Monty Python and the Holy Case

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Today we are going to talk about a very famous and influential group of comedians. The impact that they had is still felt today by those like Lorne Michaels of SNL which started in 1975 and even movies such as the recent Jojo Rabbit where the director Taika said he feels that when he had the Gestapo salute with “Heil Hitler” to each and every person in the room it is something that this troupe would do. We are talking of course about the Pythons and Monty Python and the Holy Grail!     

We will discuss a little history on how John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, and Michael Palin became the Pythons,  followed by the making of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and finally we will share how it was received and what it meant to us.

History

  • Radio
    • Although the Pythons all had many influences, one of the greatest was that of an old radio show called the Goon Show.  It starred Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers, and Harry Secombe. It changed British comedy. It was unlike any other show because it was very ridiculous and silly. As thegoonshow.net says   “They burst onto the radio with surreal storylines, absurd logic, puns, catchphrases and groundbreaking sound effects. They ridiculed the pomposity of those in authority and laughed at the stupidity of mankind.”
  • Flying Circus
    • Cleese and Graham had been working together for a while and they enjoyed watching this kids show called “Do Not Adjust Your Set” which had Idle, Jones, Palin, and Gilliam in it.  Cleese and Graham decided to approach them to do a show together. They all thought it was a great idea and approached the British tv producer Michael Mills. None of them knew what they were going to do, just that they were going to have a humorous show. Michael Mills at the time trusted his gut and gave them 13 episodes without having any idea what they would come up with. 
    • This 1969 show would become known as Monty Python’s Flying Circus. It was the beginning of the Pythons and would have 45 episodes over 4 seasons. 
    • The name took a while to come up with. It was the result of a prolonged brainstorming.  The BBC seemed to like Flying Circus and in all their memos called it “The Circus.” Finally however they needed a concrete name for the show and Michael Mills told them to call it ‘something Flying Circus.’  So Cleese and Palin came up with the nonsense name Monty Python.  
    • The brilliant aspect of what they came up with was that the cast was able to play many different characters without one particular person standing out above the rest.  This was very unlike other comedies of the time where there was one star with a supporting cast. 
    • Another aspect that set it apart was that the sketches were not done to music.
    • The sketches lampooned issues of classicism and social mores, but are more dated when it comes to topics of race and gender. There was one recurring female actress, Carol Cleveland, who played the “straight woman” in many of their silly sketches. Cleveland has been referred to as the 7th Python due to her frequent appearances. Outside of her performances, most female characters were sexualized or “ditzy.” 
    • Many famous aspects of the show are considered timeless and have made a mark on modern pop culture.
      • The show was popular because it was different! It shows a disruption with authority by breaking the rules of TV at the time. It makes fun of bureaucracy, something we all still can relate to today
        • Characters constantly broke the fourth wall, sometimes a character from a previous sketch may walk into a current one and ask everyone how the show is going. 
        • Sketches rarely ended, either. Usually they flowed directly into another sketch or would end with an interruption from another character like The Colonel–he frequently dropped in to shut down a sketch for being “too silly.” 
      • One favorite sketch that all the Pythons mentioned was the Fish Slapping Dance which will be included in our blog because everyone should see it.

      • The Dead Parrot Sketch
      • The Cheese Shop
      • The Ministry of Silly Walks
    • In order to save money the BBC would often erase tapes but thanks to Terry Gilliam for buying them from the BBC before they could be erased!
    • After Season 3 Cleese called it. He was essentially getting bored and did not want to continue doing the same thing forever. The BBC therefore continued with a Season 4 without John Cleese but it only had 7 episodes and was just called “Monty Python.” It was clear that it just wasn’t the same without Cleese and so after season 4 the Circus ended.
  • Now For Something Completely Different
    • This movie was an attempt to bring in an American audience and consisted of reshot skits from the show done without a studio audience. Since it was not really the Pythons who decided to put this movie together they did not have much say in how it was made.  It ended up not being a very big box office hit. The estimated budget was $100,000 and the cumulative Worldwide Gross was only $6,979. 

Making of the Movie 

  • The budget was fairly low to begin with (only £150,000)  for the movie. They had to raise the money themselves but they were luckily able to secure some supportive donations from some famous bands such as Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Charisma.
    • On top of a low budget about two weeks before filming they were told by the Dept. of the Environment of Scotland that they could not use their castles for shooting because it may be “inconsistent with the dignity of the fabric of the building.”  This meant that they had to find privately owned castles. They found one which was Doune Castle which stands for most of the castles in the movie. For the ending thankfully they were able to find Castle Stalker. This all ended up working in their favor with time as then they did not have to run around from castle to castle filming.
  • In order for the team to get what they wanted out of it, Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones directed the film.  Neither of them had any experience in directing and so it was a struggle and learning experience for all. Gilliam being the one who had done all the illustrations for the tv show was accustomed to looking closely at visuals, while Jones was good at getting the jokes to flow well and keep things going in a timely manner.
    • At times the actors would become a bit annoyed by the two directors.  Cleese gave a great example of this when he said they had hit gold with the Lancelot “Message for you, Sir!” scene.  However, when “Cut” was called Gilliam said there needed to be more smoke for the visual. 
    • Having two directors with different views caused some confusion but overall it seemed to work because the balance of visual and the whole experience was achieved.
  • The difficulty even started the first day when the camera broke on slate one take one.  It’s gears literally stripped, the only other camera had to be used because it was not an easy fix.  The problem however is that the audio did not automatically sync with the camera.
  • Lighting 
    • The lighting was minimal for the film.  Terry Bedford, the Director of Photography, said that quote “We had a couple of what we call red-heads and a small generator that you could stick 300 yards away and cover with blankets to cut the noise.”  
    • And for the cave scene they used real burning torches.
  • Black Knight Scene
    • The stand-in for Cleese was a man with one leg so he was already able to balance with one leg and an arm to his back.  The second leg was a dummy rigged by wires. The final piece was when they dug a hole for him when he was just a stump.
  • The first script 90% of it was thrown out
    • They did lots of research about the legends of KIng Arthur.
    • There were probably about 13 edits and screenings before the final finished product.  One of those changes was that they changed the music to a lot of library music and only kept new written pieces for the singing portions such as the Camelot Scene.

Starring

All the guys except Terry Gilliam graduated from Cambridge or Oxford. So basically they were all incredibly smart but just loved being silly!

  • John Cleese
    • Always the most well known because he was a tv star first in things like “The Frost Report” and “Fawlty Towers.”
    • Fun fact: HIs last name would have been Cheese but his grandfather changed the last name when he became a member of the British Army in 1915.
  • Terry Gilliam
    • The only American of the group, he was the one to do all the illustrations.
    • After directing for Monty Python Gilliam went on to direct films such as Time Bandits, Brazil, Twelve Monkeys, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
  • Eric Idle
    • He is said to be manager-like. He was not usually a writer of the jokes so he was able to judge it and change it as needed. He was also very good with songs and was why there were musical numbers in the show and movies.
    • He was also in Nuns on the Run and Casper.
  • Graham Chapman
    • Known for being late all the time
    • The first of the group to pass away in 1989.
    • He played the Colonel!! 
    • Lead in the Grail.
  • Terry Jones 
    • He is said to care about everything and was supposedly the most likely to be wearing drag for the sketches.
    • He is a major history buff who has done documentaries such as Ancient Inventions and The Crusades.
    • The second to pass away, very recently in January of 2020.
  • Michael Palin
    • Is known for his niceness and came up with the best ideas for sketches.
    • After being a Python he did world travel shows such as Around the World in 80 days, Pole to Pole, and Full Circle.
  • Carol Cleveland
    • Carol was their go to when they themselves could not play the character. She was only supposed to be in a few sketches but was quickly recruited to work with them whenever possible because she was so great at what she did.
    • She also appeared in The Avengers, The Persuaders, and Are You Being Served? 

Final Thoughts/ How it was received

  • Received very well!
  • Elvis Presley loved it and reportedly saw it about 45 times in the cinema and quoted it often!
  • To help promote Monty Python and the Holy Grail  there was a full page ad taken out offering the first 100 people at the cinema coconuts.

Sources

Avatar The Last Airbender

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Water. Earth. Fire. Air. Long ago, well, 15 years ago, Nickelodeon premiered a TV show that is still considered to be one of the best animated shows of all time: Avatar the Last Airbender. In the era of Spongebob, Fairly Odd Parents, and Drake and Josh, this show stood out for its animation style, intense storyline, and unique characters. 

Although it aired on a children’s network and is widely considered to be a children’s show, Avatar appeals to many different audiences and age groups. It’s a series of breathtaking animation and detail, funny quips, and heart-felt moments. 

 

How it came to be

  • In the early 2000s, Nickelodeon was shifting its focus to include shows that explored more mythical and legendary storylines. Eric Coleman, the Vice President of Animation Development approached Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko and asked them for a show pitch. The men returned one month later with the early concepts that would become Avatar: The Last Airbender. 
  • The original Aang was a bald kid with no arrow, though he was drawn with a robot cyclops and and polar bear that both had arrows. The robot monkey was the first inspiration for Momo, while the polar bear became Appa. 
  • Inspired by documentaries about antarctic exploration, the team developed a show concept about nations of people, based on the four elements. One of the key pieces of the puzzle was how to create an action show without too much violence. So, they created the idea of bending elements instead of weaponry. They pitched the story to Eric Coleman two weeks later, and the team started working on a pilot. Bryan went to Korea for a few months to work with artists there on the initial eleven minute episode. 
  • The characters were complex, and animators would sometimes spend as much as 15 hours in the studio, trying to complete the pilot in time. Once the pilot tested well, the show was greenlit for 13 episodes!
  • The tricky part about the show being picked up meant that they now had more work to do with pretty much the same deadline. Bryan and Mike put together a large team of writers, animators, and musicians to get the job done. 

 

The Making of Avatar

  • The martial arts
    • The team was dedicated to learning traditional Chinese martial arts styles, so they sought out Sifu Kisu, a martial arts teacher who helped them develop the individual fighting styles of the four nations.
    • Another martial arts teacher, Sifu Manny, came in to help develop a different style for Toph. Because Toph is a blind character, her fighting style would be different than other characters in the show. Sifu Manny’s method was rumored to have been created by blind warriors on a remote island. 
      • The style worked for Toph because it could be achieved without having to look at an opponent. 
    • Brian and the director would take the script for each episode and choreograph the fight scenes with live actors as reference for the animators.
  • The Animation
    • The creators wanted an expansive view of the universe, with wide shots of beautiful landscapes.
    • The variety of imagery made the show much more dynamic than many other animated children’s shows at the time; with wide, medium, tight, and detail compositions that gave the viewer a strong sense of the universe
      • They wanted it to be cinematic.
  • The Music
    • Jeremy Zuckerman and Ben Wynn were the track team that created the music for the show.
  • The story
    • In a world of elemental magic, there are four elemental nations: The Northern and Southern Water Tribes, the Earth Kingdom, the Fire Nation, and the Air Nomads. The Avatar, the one person who can control all elements, upholds the balance of the nations. The Avatar is reincarnated into a young boy named Aang, who is reawakened after being frozen in ice for 100 years, to embark on a dangerous journey to fulfill his destiny. With the help of friends he meets along the way, he will have to fight to bring peace to the world.
    • The success of the show came from how well it was made, but what truly connected with fans was the story and characters.
    • The story was meant from the beginning to have a finite ending, with three seasons and 61 episodes.
      • No matter how upset it made creators and fans, Bryan and Mike were consistently clear that the show would end, and building toward that ending was what made the story so solid.
    • Aang
      • Played by Zach Tyler, Aang is a young monk from 100 years in the past.
        • Michael and Bryan initially imagined Aang to be from 1000 years before the events of the show, from a more advanced civilization. In early drawings, he had a futuristic staff and robot sidekick.
        • The air nation, which Aang is from, was inspired by Buddhist and Tibetan societies. 
        • Aang is a cute, fun-loving 12-year-old kid that was thrust into an impossible situation with immense responsibility. He is a skilled martial artist, and as the Avatar he is the most powerful bender in the world. But, because of his nature and upbringing, he is hesitant to use that power to hurt others.
        • Aang goes through a lot of change in the series, though he never abandons his beliefs, even when everyone tells him he should.
    • Appa
      • Voiced by Dee Bradley Baker, Appa is Aang’s best friend and flying bison. The artists were inspired by manatees and bison to draw Appa. His six legs were a direct reference to the Catbus in My Neighbor Totoro from Hayao Miyazaki.
      • Originally there were going to be 20 bison, which was broken down to just a small family of two adult bison and their calves. Eventually they settled on only one.
    • Momo
      • As we said before, Momo was originally a robot! But, his name was Momo-3. The show slowly became less sci-fi and the creators transformed a talking robot to a cross between a ring-tailed lemur and spotted bat.
      • Momo was almost dropped from the story, but instead Aang finds him at the deserted air temple as a symbol of hope for the future.
      • Momo was also voiced by Dee Bradley Baker.
    • Katara
      • Voiced by Mae Whitman, the creators considered Katara to be the heart of the show. In a parody episode called “The Ember Island Players,” the show jokes about Katara’s infatuation with hope. But, this was a big part of her character.
      • To the creators, it was important that there would be a strong female lead to appeal to young girls watching the show. The show itself was targeted to boys, but Bryan and Mike always knew that young girls would also be interested in an action-adventure epic as well.
      • Katara’s original name was Kya, but there was a video game character named Kya and it had to be changed. Her second name was Kanna before they settled on Katara. Kya is Katara’s mother’s name and Kanna is her Gran Gran.
    • Sokka
      • Played by Jack De Sena from the All That reboot, Sokka was very clearly the comic relief of the show. He was created with Katara to have a sibling rivalry, and was meant to appeal to the audience as an everyman.
      • Sokka has one of the best character arcs in the show, as he transforms from a brash kid that hides his insecurities with humor, to a confident leader of Team Avatar.
    • Toph
      • Voiced by Jessie Flower, Toph is the toughest character and one of the most powerful benders on the show. Toph comes from a rich, pampered background where she was forced to be someone she wasn’t. Although she was born blind, she learned earthbending from blind badger moles. 
      • Toph was originally a male character, until one of the head writers, Aaron Ehaz of Dragon Prince fame, suggested they make her female. Aaron argued for a long time until finally he won over the creators. The idea of taking such a huge, brash personality and placing it in a cute young girl really worked with the character.
      • Jessie Flower originally voiced a character in one episode of season one, and the creators liked her so much that they asked her back to play Toph.
      • Even though they thought including another female lead would connect to girls, the most comments about Toph came from young men who cited her as their favorite character.
        • Seugn Hyun Oh, a supervising director was quoted in saying, “She is blind, but I don’t know how to express in English, she just won.
    • Zuko
      • Voiced by Dante Bosco (Hook) Zuko is a fan favorite. He undergoes possibly the most change of any character in the show, and introduces the audience to the concept of a villain you can root for. Zuko has a complicated past that the show reveals over time, and acts with a sense of purpose. The show begins with him knowing exactly who he is, and we watch him become more and more unsure over time.
      • Originally, the show only had one villain: the Firelord. Zuko came about when Eric Coleman asked about a character that actively pursued the avatar and Zuko was born.
    • Uncle Iroh
      • Another fan favorite, Uncle Iroh was voiced by Mako and later Greg Baldwin. 
      • The creators initially thought Iroh would just be a teacher, but then they decided it would be more interesting if he were related. Aaron Ehaz described him as a man trying to enjoy his retirement but was forced to watch his nephew instead. It was Mako though, the original voice actor, who gave uncle the level of wisdom and personality that made fans fall in love with Iroh. 

 Also Starring

  • Jennie Kwan as Suki
  • Grey Griffin as Azula
    • Azula is one of the most complicated and layered characters in the show. She is a villain audiences loved to hate, and she shoots blue fire to stand out against Zuko’s orange fire. 
  • James Garrett as Avatar Roku
  • Mark Hamill as Fire Lord Ozai

The finale is a rare accomplishment, ennobling the characters and bringing a satisfying conclusion to both its world and Aang’s spiritual struggle between his beliefs and the violence the world wants from him as the Avatar.

Awards

  • Primetime-Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Animation in 2007
  • Kids’ Choice Award for Favorite Cartoon in 2008
  • Peabody Award in 2009

Drink of the week:  The Jasmine Dragon

Here’s a link to the documentary:

Sources:

The Case of Movie Dinosaurs

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This week we dive into a subject Adam has been waiting to discuss… Dinosaurs!!!! We know Adam has been periodically inserting facts about Jurassic Park in many of our other episodes, but this time we discuss the history of dinosaurs in film. We also talk about some of the most well known and loved dinosaurs in these movies by ranking the top five.

History of Dinosaurs in Movies

The word “dinosaur” was coined by Victorian naturalist Sir Richard Owen in 1841, and means “terrible lizard”. The modern meaning is more along the lines of, humongous monster that tramples the getaway car and eats all the supporting actors. Dinosaurs fit perfectly into the role of movie monsters. Many of them were huge, or had good monster characteristics such as spikes, horns, claws and big teeth. It’s not surprising that the history of movies featuring dinosaurs goes back more than 100 years.

  • The first dinosaur movie ever was Prehistoric Peeps in 1905. However Prehistoric Peeps unfortunately is now lost to history much like the dinosaurs it portrayed. Then came Gertie the Dinosaur, in 1914. Gertie is far more famous, and she has the honor of being history’s first dinosaur cartoon.

  • But the real origin of dinos in the spotlight is Brute Force, also from 1914. Brute Force debuted just two months after Gertie did, but Brute Force is live-action, and it contains the origins of every dinosaur special effect to be implemented for the next 60 years. The movie is a short silent drama directed by D. W. Griffith. The film was shot in Chatsworth Park, in California. It is a story of cavemen and dinosaurs, and is a sequel to Griffith’s earlier film, “Man’s Genesis” (1912).
  • It took all the way until 1925 for the first full-length movie to feature dinosaurs to hit theatres. The Lost World. Based on the 1912 book by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, it tells the story of dinosaurs that survived the mass extinction 65 million years ago. Sculptor Marcel Delgado made dinosaur models for the film based on the work of a leading paleontologist of the time. Stop-motion pioneer Willis O’Brien brought these extinct animals back to life using animation. After that, dinosaurs rampaged through popular culture, and for nearly forty years, stop motion remained the technique of choice for bringing extinct creatures to life.
  • So stop motion may have been king of the dinosaur world, but moving a puppet frame by frame is very time-consuming and expensive. Movie producers were looking for ways to cut corners so along came the “slurpasaur” (AKA a lizard in a dinosaur suit).
  • One of the earliest slurpasaurs appears in “The Mysterious Island”, made just four years after The Lost World. Slurpasaurs continued to offer a low-cost alternative to stop motion into the ’50s and ’60s. Even Willis O’Brien consulted on costumed iguanas for the 1960 remake of The Lost World.

  • Dinosaurs are the beginning DNA of the much broader subject of creature effects. Almost every technique for movie effects that we discussed in a previous episode have been used to make dinosaurs; people in suits, puppetry and animatronics, computer generated images, and more. To top them all it was Stan Winston who finally achieved the impossible when he created full-scale dinosaurs that not only looked incredible, but delivered great performances too.
  • With the addition of truly convincing CGS creatures, Jurassic Park set a new bar for movies as well as visual and special effects. By the time the T. Rex brought the house down, literally and figuratively, at the climax of the film, audiences could believe that dinosaurs really do rule the Earth.

Top 5 Dinosaurs

  1.       Tyrannosaurus Rex (Jurassic Park)
  • The Tyrannosaurus rex of Jurassic Park was nicknamed Roberta in Phil Tippett’s storyboards for the first film, but most fans call her by her novel nickname Rexy.
  • Rexy has made three appearances in the franchise. Debuting in Jurassic Park, then reprising her role in Jurassic World, and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. She is also rumored (basically confirmed) to return in the final Jurassic World film in 2021.
  • She is most well-known for saving the main characters at the end of the first film and Jurassic World, although inadvertently. This makes her something of an anti-heroine.
  • Mark McCreery created the design of the T. rex that was used in the film. Before the film was greenlit, McCreery was working on Terminator 2. Stan Winston moved him from that project to create sketches of the T. rex in order to generate interest in Jurassic Park from Universal Studios.
  • (We talked about the animatronic two weeks ago in our Special Effects episode)
  1.       Littlefoot (Land Before Time)
  • Littlefoot, originally voiced by Gabriel Damon, (and many others since) is the main character in the Land Before Time film and television series. He is the main protagonist in the series and is one of only three characters to appear in every piece of media. The other two being Ducky and Petrie.
  • He is an Apatosaurus, (aka “Brontosaurus”) which are referred to as “Longnecks” by the other dinosaurs in the Land Before Time universe.
  • He can easily make friends with other creatures, however his friendships with other animals outside his species is often viewed as a taboo, as many of the dinosaurs practice racial, or species based, segregation. (Mainly in the first movie)
  • Littlefoot is intelligent, playful, and adventurous. He acts as a leader to the other main characters. Pushing them to move forward in difficult times, (most notably in the original The Land Before Time) and is their voice of reason.
  • According to a blog post by Mark Pudleiner, an animator who worked on the original film, Littlefoot was originally going to be called “Thunderfoot”. But it turned out that there was a Triceratops in a children’s book with the same name. His name was Thunderfoot all throughout production, only changing after the movie was finished and had to be dubbed over! If you look closely you can see that whenever a character says “Littlefoot” the animation doesn’t quite match!
  1.       Rex (Toy Story)
  • Rex is a supporting character in the Toy Story franchise. He is a plastic Tyrannosaurus Rex who is voiced by Wallace Shawn.
  • A running gag throughout the Toy Story movies is that Rex is insecure about his lack of ferociousness.  Rex’s worst fear is that Andy may want another, scarier dinosaur to replace him. “But what if Andy gets another dinosaur, a mean one? I just don’t think I could take that kind of rejection!”
  • In the original story pitch for Toy Story, Rex’s personality was mostly the same as in the final film, except that he also was to get very angry and even vengeful when it’s revealed Woody threw Buzz out of the window on purpose. All the toys do this to some degree in the final film.
  1.       Arlo (The Good Dinosaur)
  • Arlo, voiced by Raymond Ochoa, is the protagonist of the 2015 Pixar animated feature, The Good Dinosaur.

  • He is a young Apatosaurus living with his parents and older siblings, Buck and Libby. He is the last and the smallest of the three children to hatch out of his egg. Despite hatching from an egg bigger than the first two.
  • In this universe, the asteroid that is believed to have led to the extinction of the dinosaurs, never struck Earth. So, over the course of the movie, Arlo makes an unlikely human friend. While travelling through a harsh and mysterious landscape, Arlo learns the power of confronting his fears and discovers what he is truly capable of.
  • In terms of animating Arlo, animators Rob Thompson and Kevin O’Hara went to a zoo and shot video of elephants in motion. Thompson stated: “One of the most intimidating things to animate is a quadruped, because there’s so much to them and there’s so much to manage. Locomotion is all about efficiency, a lot of times you think, ‘We’re animating a big, heavy character. We should slam those feet. That’ll make it feel heavy.’ The truth is, that’s not efficient.”
  • Just some cool trivia, Arlo is the youngest Pixar protagonist to date. And in total The Good Dinosaur took up 300TB of server space.
  1.       Aladar (Dinosaur)
    • Voiced by D.B. Sweeney, Aladar is an Iguanodon that is first shown as an egg. The opening of the movie shows a ridiculously lucky egg traveling across the ocean where the lemur inhabitants find him, and he soon hatches.
    • Throughout the movie, Aladar butts heads with Kron, the leader of a large herd. In the herd, “only the strongest survive.” So Aladar does everything he can to help weaker dinosaurs. He later falls in love with Neera, Kron’s younger sister, who is considerably more compassionate than her brother. Aladar also seems to be a natural leader, which fueled his rivalry with Kron who feared he was trying to take his place.
    • In an early concept for Dinosaur, Aladar was going to have grandparents and be called Noah, but this was changed due to some similarities to The Land Before Time.
    • Aladar’s story is very similar to Tarzan’s story. Both have adopted families, and both lose their biological mothers to a predator. However, both end up killing their enemies during their adulthood, where they meet their love interest. They even go as far as to both have male figures in the family who initially don’t want them.
    • Just an extra bit, the film score was composed by James Newton Howard and he was nominated for an Annie Award and a Saturn Award for Dinosaur in 2000.

Honorable mentions:

  • Butch, Ramsey, and Nash (The Good Dinosaur)
  • Barney (Barney)
  • Unknown dinosaur (T.rex?) (Fantasia)
  • Big Al (The Ballad of Big Al)
  • Blue (Jurassic World)
  • Indominus Rex (Jurassic World)
  • Spinosaurus (Jurassic Park 3)
  • The Big One (Jurassic Park)
  • Carnotaurus (Dinosaur)
  • Momma (Ice Age)
  • Tiny (Meet the Robinsons)
  • Rex (We’re Back)
  • VRex (King Kong)
  • Red Ranger DinoZord (Power Rangers)
  • The rest of the Land Before Time crew

Sources

Pride and Prejudice

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This week we talk about a beloved BBC mini series, the 1995 Pride and Prejudice. There have been many different adaptations of Jane Austen’s books, but it seems as though this version has caught the hearts of many.  In this episode we have a very special guest, Em from Verbal Diorama!

We will begin with a little about Jane Austen, the history behind the BBC show, who it stars, and what it all means to us.  If we talk too much about Colin Firth, well it could not be helped!! 

History

The beloved Jane Austen book Pride and Prejudice was first drafted in 1797 and titled First Impressions.  The revised and final product, that is well known and enjoyed today, was released in 1813. All the books that she published while alive were done so anonymously, not by a pen name but simply by “a lady.” Or in the case of P&P “by the author of Sense and Sensibility”.

The four published were Sense and Sensibility, P&P, Mansfield Park, and Emma. Two were published posthumously and they were Persuasion and Northanger Abbey.

Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775 in Steventon, UK and died July 1870 in Winchester UK.  Surprisingly there is not a lot known about Jane Austen. The majority of what we do know was derived from the letters she sent her sister Cassandra.  The letters, however, we only have a select amount of because Cassandra burned many of them before her own death. A few things we do know about her family is that her mother and father (George and Cassandra) had 8 children and that her extended family consisted of people from rich landowners, clerics, an apprentice milliner, an alleged shoplifter, and a bankrupt banker. 

Jane Austen was a fan of flirtations and for a time flirted with a young man named Thomas Lefroy.  His family expected him to marry wealthy and so they went their separate ways. This prompted the movie “Becoming Jane” which is an interesting take on what may have happened.  Like “Becoming Jane” many people dream of what Jane was actually like. It is not hard to do when the only thing we have to hint about her is a selection of letters. We do know that she herself had a marriage proposal in life to a man that she was good friends with his sisters.  She had said yes but then the next morning informed him that she had changed her mind (probably after discussing it with her sister.) She did stay friends with his sisters and he (Harris Big-Wither) ended up marrying two years later and had 10 children. We know of course that Jane never married and passed away in 1817 at just 41 years of age.

Making of the Show

  • The BBC has adapted P&P 6 times with this version being the most popular!
  • Premiered on September 24, 1995 and sold 100,000 box sets of it before it was even taken off the air.  The final episode was seen by 10 million people.
  • It was directed by Simon Langton.
  • It was produced by Sue Birtwistle.
  • Adapted by Andrew Davies into a 6 episode mini-series.
    • Davies wanted to portray the immense things that he believed was what Jane Austen wanted to get across such as love, sex, money, and betrayal. 
    • He also helped to take a 1996 book by Helen Fielding, which is a modern day retelling of P&P, into a 2001 movie.  A nice touch was that Colin Firth played the Romantic lead, Mark Darcy, in this one as well!  
  • Costumes done by Dinah Collin.  She created them in such a way as to keep it accurate for the time but also kept in mind how the 1995 viewer would perceive them.
    • Even the make-up designer did a lot of research in order to get things correct.

Starring

  • Colin Firth/Mr. Darcy
    • We have producer Sue Birtwistle to thank for her choice in wanting Firth as Darcy and helping to convince him to take the part
  • Jennifer Ehle/Elizabeth Bennet
    • Best actress 1996 BAFTA winner
  • Susannah Harker/Jane Bennet
    • The eldest sister
  • Lucy Briers/Mary Bennet
  • Polly Maberly/Kitty Bennet
    • Second to youngest but tends to follow the youngest around a lot
  • Julia Sawaha/Lydia Bennet
    • The youngest Bennet sister
  • Alison Steadman/Mrs. Bennet
    • Oh! Her nerves!
  • Benjamin Whitrow/Mr Bennet
  • Crispin Bonham-Carter/Mr Bingley
    • Best friends with Mr. Darcy and Jane Bennet’s love interest
  • David Bamber/Mr Collins
  • Lucy Scott/Charlotte Lucas
  • Barbara Leigh-Hunt/ Lady Catherine de Bourgh
  • Adrian Lucas/ Wickham

“Hidden” meanings within the book/movie

  • Feminist thoughts
  • Class/social status/income
    • Why Charlotte has to marry someone like Mr Collins to just be comfortable in life
  • Love in a marriage
  • Opinions of outsiders on who you should marry
    • ex. Lady Catherine de Bourgh

COLIN FREAKING FIRTH

  • She is tolerable I suppose but not handsome enough to tempt me!
  • The famous scene where he went for a swim
    • He does not actually jump in, they spray his hair a little with a spray bottle of water and then he jumps onto a blue mat while his stunt double does the actual jump in.  The underwater sequence was shot on a different day in a special water tank.

  • The change in his whole attitude when Lizzie first comes to Pemberley.

Sources:

https://www.bbc.com/historyofthebbc/anniversaries/september/pride-and-prejudice

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0112130/?ref_=ttfc_fc_tt

https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6d9hbk

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Pride-and-Prejudice

http://writersinspire.org/content/anonymous-jane-austen

https://www.neh.gov/humanities/2013/januaryfebruary/feature/the-mysterious-miss-austen

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ef3TSkQxBIM

-Jane Austen: Her Life, Her Times, Her Novels by Janet Todd