So as I mentioned a few days back, on Saturday I hosted / presented a full-day event at a London Cinema on dinosaurs in the movies. The idea was to try and combine some history of dinosaur research with their various appearances on film and the changing techniques used to bring them alive. As such we touched on Owen and Mantell, The Lost World and One Million Years BC, stop-motion and rubber suits and everything from the Dinosaur Heresies to Reptilicus. All of this was bracketed by showings o the 1933 King Kong and Jurassic Park on the big screen.
For me, it was exhausting. basically a 12 hour day and I was talking for more than half of that. I’m not doing that again in a hurry, or at least I need to space it out better, but it was certainly an experience and in terms of presentation I think I learned a fair bit. Chatting to various people I do think the pitch was about right for the audience and they seemed to keep up with what I was saying and absorb things. They seemed engaged and I got some good questions (though not too many).
King Kong really hasn’t dated too badly at all. The introduction was much longer than I remembered (and Peter Jackson drew it out still further), with things only really kicking in and getting exciting in the second half with rather too much lead in time. There was also very little chemistry between the leads, or for that matter, Anne Darrow and Kong – something that the Jackson version did improve on massively. The effects were great though – there were some nice details I’d missed before and the way the layers were put together was excellent. Only a couple of moments really jarred which given that this is some 80 years old is very impressive.
On the other hand, Jurassic park does seem to have dated rather badly. Sure I loved it when I first saw it, and have fond memories of it. While for a long time, I’ve thought of it as being actually quite a poor film with some great moments and great effects, I have to say that some of the CGI looks really ropey in hindsight. Sure this it also getting on and it was brand new technology when created, but I did watch JP just a couple of years ago on the TV and it looked fine – in full cinema size, less so. The T. rex attack especially, there are parts where the whole animal seems glossy and with a sheen, that’s only apparent when it’s computer generated, and it looks much more natural and ‘dusty’. In short, I’d probably rather watch KK again tomorrow than JP.
Oh yes, and I got to meet Himmapaanensis too, who brought along a lovely card of a hadrosaur he gave to me which was lovely.
Overall it was fun, but also tiring and stressful. I hope people enjoyed it and learned something, that’s about as much as you can wish really.