Been watching a Doco series on SBS about Walt Disney.
It is quite indepth and covers a lot of history I only had a nodding feel for. Was he a hero or a despot, well, let’s not go there now.
What it did show was that he needed to make some movies that could bring in some dollars to pay the wages. And of course furnish his lavish lifesstyle, but let’s not go there either.
It seems he hit on an idea while on holiday in Alaska and shot lots of 16mm footage of seals on “Seal Island”. Once back in the studio they plotted out a cartoon style drama.
Need a hero, or two, a dark-moody antagonist or two, a desperate situation that would require said hero to confront said enemy, and stress and strain of the battle.
So they hunted though the material. Located sequences of ‘Our Baby Seal’, its “mother” the nasty shark or gull, and then worked the shots into a sequence and of course wrote the voice-over to match. “Oh, look here our helpless baby is trying to climb over a rock”. “Here is another one climbing down from a similar rock.” Hero does good as the two disparate sequences were spliced together and eventually they had the story of “Will the Mother seal make it back in time with the food or will the baby become an orphan and be abandoned by the colony”. Cut to shots of abandoned baby seals.
And so it went. Insert David Attenbro voice here.
For sequences they didn’t have, they sent out a crew to reshoot.
Once back in the studio, it was all cut together to match the written story line of Hero Triumphs over Odds. (You have to read Joseph Campbell to see how these stories play out in so many cultures:- “The Hero of A Thousand Faces” is a good start).
Now of course the cynic in me has always been suspect of the said Attenbro ’stories’, but it seems he didn’t invent the genre: another success for Disney. 🙂 Or maybe someone earlier?
The Disney Studios made half a dozen of these ‘docos’ and made enough to cover the wages so all was good. So next time you hear the Bro expounding some heart-rending formula, about Elephants, Zebras, Polar Bears or Sea Lions, you’ll know where it came from. 🙂
One part of the doco also recounted the making of “Bambi” and how a whole generation of small kids were scarred by the tension and drama of that movie.
As one of those from the scarred (and scared) generation, I can recall being in a picture theatre somewhere as a very small kid, trying to hide under the portable wooden chairs in the hall. So it came as no surprise to me many years later when I took my own young girls and their little friends to see “ET” that we left the theatre with a bunch of tear-stricken children.
Such is the power of the Theatre of the Mind.
I often tell stories here on the blog of various encounters we have. Hopefully—as the Channel 9 news so ambitiously claims, “News does not have an Agenda!”—the stories here tend to portray what happens and doesn’t embellish the reality just for the sake of, as Campbell writes, “A multitude of preliminary victories, unretainable ecstasies, and momentary glimpses of the wonderful land”. (Hero of a Thousand Faces. p109 Fontana Press 1993)
This year we missed the Sacred Kingfishers nesting. Such clever birds didn’t want to share with us a second year, so here is one I prepared earlier.