In case you missed it, the crew over at the Stan Winston School added this amazing T-Rex rehearsal footage from the set of Jurassic Park to their YouTube page. This is the kind of thing that would appear as a bonus feature on a disc, but it hasn’t. It’s good old RARE behind-the-scenes footage. And it shows how incredibly life-like the T-Rex was in its non-digital form. Check it out…
The crew over at Slashfilm unearthed a wonderful, 90-minute interview with directors Andy and Lana Wachowski. The interview was conducted in 2013 at DePaul University in Chicago (the Wachowski’s home town) as part of DePaul’s Visiting Artists Series.
Hopefully you have the time to spare to watch it. If so, click it, sit back and enjoy…
You’ve really got to see this before Lucasfilm has it removed … 6-minutes of never-before-seen behind-the-scenes footage from Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. This is a real find. I thought I’d seen everything when it came to behind-the-scenes footage from the making of Star Wars, but I’ve never seen this. Click on the video and check it out…
1. Ernst Lubitsch’s Trouble in Paradise
2. The Marx Brothers’ Horse Feathers
3. Clara Bow’s Call Her Savage
4. The Mummy
5. White Zomebie
7. George Cukor’s Girls About Town
8. Bring ‘Em Back Alive
9. The Lost Squadron
10. Tod Browning’s Freaks
11. Madame Butterfly
12. Clinton Child’s The Blonde Captive
13. Harold Lloyd’s Movie Crazy
14. King Vidor’s Bird of Paradise
15. Harold Lloyd’s Feet First
And a couple more oddities…
“Ask the Iron Man”
They say you can’t go home again. And while that’s not completely true (unless your home was paved over to build a Burger King or something), you may find upon returning that the house and its furnishings don’t really fit your life too well anymore.
Movies and TV shows are a lot like that. As all fans of sci fi and horror know, our favorite genres are ripe for a constant stream of reboots, reimaginings and remakes, some good and some best left unseen (that’s right 1999’s Wild Wild West, I’m lookin’ at YOU). The good ones will bring an updated or unique approach to the source material that creates a new experience that often compliments the original while at the same time moving it in a different direction. But more often than not, the newly created material focuses solely on the events of the original tale, stripping away or ignoring the updates needed to set those events in a different context (2002’s Rollerball, you may now leave the building. By serving as example for this article you have finally fulfilled any value you may have once tried to offer us).
The Planet Of The Apes franchise is an excellent example of this and rather than go into a long essay on the concept of why some remakes work and others don’t we’re going to briefly focus on why the current reboot of the franchise was the right way to go and why—simply put—the original stories in the original films simply could not be remade with the same impact in today’s culture. And we’re going to do that by quickly looking at the social events that were integral underpinnings of the original films.
Planet Of The Apes – Written by Rod Serling and Michael Wilson, the film borrowed only the barest premise from Pierre Boulle’s novel—that three astronauts would end up on a planet dominated by apes. Beyond that, the film is really a metaphor for the McCarthy era and the entertainment world’s persecution and ostracization of its own members (a fate suffered by screenwriter Wilson). The humans represent those accused of communism, the chimpanzees those who sympathized with the accused, the orangutans represent the zealots in the entertainment world who cooperated with McCarthy and the House Committee on Un-American Activities and the gorillas are acting as the government (Wilson literally based the trial scene where Taylor tries to defend himself for being a human on the McCarthy trials of the era). While not intended to go too deeply into the symbolism of everything that was wrong with McCarthyism, the film was made at a time when the industry had largely realized how irresponsibly it had acted and was beginning to reach out to the accused for forgiveness (or at least pretending nothing had happened and started to let them work again).
Beneath The Planet Of The Apes – Screenwriter Paul Dehn (who wrote the following three films and largely re-wrote the final film in the series) was told to write a script that would preclude any sequels. Richard D. Zanuck, one of the film’s producers, had grown angry at the constant bickering among the board at Fox and wanted to kill the series off which of course, didn’t happen. The heart of the conflict is straight out of the headlines of the late 1960’s and early 70’s and America’s shifting attitudes towards the Viet Nam war. If we look at the Forbidden Zone as an analogy for Viet Nam (filled with “mutants” who are militant, merciless, aggressive and share a hive mind, largely the way a lot of middle class Americans viewed Asian culture), the film gets very interesting, indeed. Though the gorillas of Ape City are hawks who want to invade the Zone, most of the apes are hands-off and don’t see the value of getting involved in the war, with the younger generation going so far as to protest the approaching conflict in a not-so-subtle nod to the student activism taking place in America at the time. When the apes get to the mutants home turf, conventional warfare quickly falls apart and the detonation of the doomsday device destroys the planet (nicely pulling into the mix the growing anti-nuke sentiments).
Escape From The Planet Of The Apes – The film always struck me as an interesting analysis and satire of American middle-class society shortly after the civil rights movement of the early sixties. The culture’s previous perceptions (up until the late 50’s) of African Americans as buffoons and caricatures is nicely illustrated in the way humans perceive and embrace Cornelius and Zira: they’re really just animals who amuse and delight and so long as they maintain that role of clown and offer no threat, they’re accepted…albeit on a low and demeaning level. But as soon as they begin to assert their rights as living, intelligent creatures who demand to be treated as equals, things turn dark and threatening. So begins the persecutions and pursuit; they’re now a threat to the established order who must be confronted with violence and immediate extermination.
Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes – There is absolutely no subtlety in the symbolism of this film (which is fine). Expanding on the idea of Escape with the apes representing African Americans, the film is about the race riots and racial violence of the mid and late 60’s, confirmed by such lines as Caesar’s when he addresses Macdonald, the African American chief aide to Governor Breck:
By what right are you spilling blood?” – MacDonald
“By the slave’s right to punish his persecutor.” – Caesar
Battle For The Planet Of The Apes – Though this film preceded the resignation of Richard Nixon by a year, it was made in the thick of the Watergate scandal and I see some interesting parallels in how the blind trust America had previously held in the government had so fatally cracked and begun to collapse. Once again we have a depiction of the mutants from Beneath but in an early stage of their development; wearing black and being little more than savages (echoes of the Viet Cong), they seek to attack and destroy the apes. At the same time, Aldo, the gorilla leader of the military, is furious that Caesar wants peace with the humans and plots a coup and Caesar’s assassination (echoes of JFK and the emerging conspiracy theories, perhaps?). Though the symbolism in this film seems disconnected to any thematic thread running through the film, we have elements suggesting the Viet Nam conflict, a military out of control that is content to doom everyone in pursuit of the annihilation of its enemy and a fractured society trying to sort out and organize some very disparate elements that threaten each other’s stability…a perfect snapshot of the early 1970’s.
With the exception of the McCarthyism of Planet and the race wars of Conquest, I freely admit that many of these perceptions and translations are mine and I’m NOT stating unequivocally that the series’ creators implicitly intended for the stories to be received on the level I’ve described above. But to me, these thematic elements fit nicely with the conflicts that were defining the culture at the time. While some of these bits could be shoehorned into current events, I feel that if someone were to film these scripts today, they would not be as well received. There’s a context to these tales and the way they’re told that are deeply enmeshed in the social events of that era…if you weren’t there, you may still be able to enjoy the films for the purely wonderful storytelling they are, but many of the delightful subtle touches that drive them and the characters will be missed.
Though I haven’t seen Dawn yet, I was pleased with Rise and how the creators did a reboot the right way: by taking the ingredients of a tried and true recipe and creating a whole new series of dishes that are better suited for a different meal and a different crowd, allowing a new experience to exist that respects the older one that inspired.
So yeah, I think you CAN go home again…but only to visit for a while. Sometimes it’s better to build a new house on a new lot and simply admire from afar the place you grew up. And let it be what it was while you enjoy your new digs.
Something for School of Rock fans out there. 7 never-before-seen publicity stills…
Well, it’s about fucking time! Because no prior version of the soundtrack to Empire of the Sun ever really did the film justice.
La La Land Records (you have to love a company named La La Land) has released the Empire of the Sun: Expanded Archival Collection 2CD Soundtrack, and they’ve added about as much as can be added to a soundtrack without including a track entitled “Kitchen Sink.” Just lots of coolness here.
To get the complete story on the making of this set, you’ll need to head on over to JWFan.com. They’ve added two exclusive features: 1) Producer Mike Matessino on the Making of the Empire of the Sun 2CD Set and 2) Empire of the Sun: Cue Lists and Additional Notes.
The set itself can be purchased here.
There are soundtrack purists who consider Jerry Goldsmith’s score for 1985’s Legend the greatest rejected film score of all time. I am one of those purists. However, Tangerine Dream’s American-release score for Legend has unquestionable merits – in particular the ending track “Loved by the Sun” with its lead vocal by Yes’ Jon Anderson.
Ohio music teacher Aaron Okeefe certainly is a fan of Tangerine Dream’s score. He had his class of young musicians perform an amazing cover of “Loved by the Sun,” which you can check out right here…
Now here’s something cool. MGM and 20th Century Fox commissioned the design firm La Boca to create this new poster for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
Click on the image for the hi-res version.