Saturday Evening Post #169: Anthropomorphism?

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.

10 thoughts on “Saturday Evening Post #169: Anthropomorphism?

  1. My third attempt to post this comment…
    G’day David and Happy New Year to you. Today I jumped quickly to read your Saturday Evening Post to compensate for your absence on Flickr. Somehow I’ve missed your last post there but when I finished reading and admiring the Sacred Kingfisher I noticed the picture with two Black Shouldered Kites, clicked on it and now I know about your taking a break from it all. That’s a very healthy lifestyle.
    Interesting to read your thoughts on Disney and all that business of making films for children. I must admit I associate Disney with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck but that’s the anomaly caused by my childhood spent behind the infamous Iron Curtain, where screening of Disney cartoons (with a man’s voice-over!) was a much celebrated half an hour every Wednesday, after I was allowed into my friend’s home with the only TV in my street. I don’t think I’ll watch that doco on Walt Disney. Your critique is all I can bear (-;

    Interestingly, your excellent photo of the Sacred Kingfisher brings back another memory – you’d never guess – of the Sistine Chapel Ceiling before its renovation. I’m sure Michelangelo would paint the Sacred Kingfisher exactly the same way there, if he’d only had a chance to see one.
    Keep on painting with light.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Adam, WordPress has its own games it likes to play. I know this from trying to leave comments on other sites. Just easier to clear the Browser and start again.
      We haven’t been away, rather just giving a breathing space to Flickr for a bit.
      We’ve also been regularly monitoring the Hobbys and now the Kites. So its just been easier to gain a bit of time by leaving Flickr to itself.
      Will come back probably next week, but I’m going to be doing a lot less following and commenting, although I love seeing the work of others, I think I get to a ‘cramped’ style of my own and it needs some freshness for my sanity.

      I have a Romanian friend who escaped the regime and has similar stories to tell. I guess the legacy of Disney is not so much an universal one size fits all, but rather is hammered out in the experiences we each bought to the encouter(s) with his products.

      His overriding fault I think was he was so enamoured with his own idea of success that he didn’t see that those around him were not contributing 100% of their lives as he thought he was and so should they.
      Having worked in an organisation of that mind-set, it is easy to see how much of a house of cards it was and how vulnerable it made everybody.

      Still we all laughed at Goofy and Pluto, and hoped to “Wish upon a Star to Make our Dreams come True”
      There are been some much worse people at work in the world than good old Uncle Walt.

      It is interesting I think to study the lighting of the old masters. One of my favs is “Jeremiah lamenting the destruction of Jerusalem” by Rembrandt.
      Such fine use of shape and shadow.

      Keep takin’ pictures, We do!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting story about Disney, David, and the revelations from the book by Neal Gabler about his life, which aligns with what you started saying about him. Sadly the worm fatherly image he projected was not the image his family and co workers experienced. In my earlier reading years I would love comparing biographies with autobiographies and in most cases they would read very differently. The weather has not been kind these last weeks having winter in summer and the wet, and I guess you have had more than your fair share also. Your Kingfisher images have been amazing from the previous year, and they continue to leave their impression in my mind. We likewise did not see our Kingfishers much at all this breeding season, and our Azures seem to moved elsewhere.We are currently just trying to keep away from crowds as many around us go down with Covid, partly due to our gung-ho Premier, who is not very popular at present. Have a restful weekend and stay safe my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ashley, I have often wanted to read the NG book, but never bothered to plop down the hard earned cash.
      Villain or Hero? I guess as a little kid with Mickey Mouse ears on, it was hard to see him anyway other than another eccentric uncle. 🙂
      The doco made an important point, and that was the he, Disney, was so enthralled with his work, that sadly he thought everyone that he employed came with the same complete involvement. Little did he realise they all had their own agendas, families to look after and career dreams they would fulfil.
      When things got tough, they turned on him as the ‘demon’, and he never recovered from that. Was he a bad manager. Yep, I think he’d have been dreadful to work for as it would only be his way. Others creativity had to match that score.
      Bit like mother-of-the-bride Godzillas at weddings. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A splendid image of the Kingfisher, David! Lovely to see!
    It is always interesting to know the story behind the story as with Disney. Not all is as it seems!
    And don’t I know that from to many years in news rooms!
    Hope you didn’t get flooded over the past few days. I had 82 mm in the gauge in 36 hours.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. G’day,
      Marketing has a lot to answer for!
      What is an interesting correlation between the number of people that recieved (and still do) pleasure from the simple and the intricate of Disney and by extrapolation, Bugs and Dafffy, Yogi and the Jetsons, and not forgetting The Simpsons, against the harsh realities of production is a difficult road to negotiate (says he mixing metaphors!)
      I think the wide-eyed naïveté of watching the Coyote endlessly pursuing the Roadrunner, simply allowed us to develop an imagination that has stood us in good stead in the real world. I don’t think I ever worried about the escapes from impossible situations. 🙂

      Our local Davis Creek water retaining basin is roaring with water. But, it will be gone in a few days. Melb Water have lots to be thanked for.

      Did the Grebes this morning, plenty of water in there, and the young are near the size of the adults. Glad they finally got a clutch.
      Most of the Wagtails we were worried about either fledged their young before the deluge or somehow managed to keep them safe. Several pairs will fly this week.


  4. Hi David, A glorious shot of the Sacred Kingfisher, and some interesting comments. However, I wouldn’t put the film-making of David A and his team in the same basket as Disney. While I’m sure they make a dramatic story at times, I don’t think they have ever done the sort of thing that was done with the lemmings. See Total dishonesty, and also of course ill-treatment of animals.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Eleanor,
      As you say, all for the sake of the ‘story’. I do grinch at times with the Bro voice over.
      Utmost respect for his hard working team, but there is always a ‘story’ to tell.
      We all can’t fact check everything and i do hope that my bloggy bits are moderately free of bias.
      Had to laugh at the Channel 9 news promo about news being without agenda. Just the way its presented brings its own agenda 🙂

      Had some discussions recently about the average reading/retention/focus of an average reader.
      Does it mean blogging is wasted by up to 90% or more as people will skim for the one highlight, often out of context and then click away for Ubereats.

      We live and learn.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Eleanor, I pay WP money for the site you’d think I’d get some service. Never been able to figure out what it is about the comments. I know its a browser issue more than anything because if I change to Firefox it drops in a treat. No doubt Google Chrome would do it too, but I’m allergic to their products.

      Liked by 1 person

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