Archive for The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym

Valley of the Things

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on October 8, 2012 by dcairns

The Van Beuren company and its boss, Mr Van Beuren, was lampooned by Frank Tashlin as “Van Boring,” but there’s nothing dull about their AESOP’S FABLES series. There’s also no resemblance to Aesop or his fables or fables in general — these are pure early 1930s free-associative lunacy.

In GYPPED IN EQYPT, a comedy double act (seeming to anticipate Abbott and Costello and their meeting with the mummy) murders a camel and is then plunged into a hallucinogenic nightmare of guilt and torment — with musical interludes. Lots of anatomically incorrect/incomplete skeletons in the Disney manner, in a pleasing variety of designs.

The principle characters were apparently called Waffles and Don, and were apparently a cat and dog, though none of this was really apparent to me. Don Dog looks a bit Lou Costello-like to me, but he’s less flappable, more cool and collected, while the gangling cat is a panic-stricken specimen of the sub-genus scaredy.

The giant menacing Sphinx driving out of the desert like a monolithic Duesenberg is a favourite moment, somewhat echoed at the end by the vast, world-obliterating pair of malevolent eyes peering over the horizon like a kosmic Kilroy, or something out of Olaf Stapledon. And then we fade out, with no resolution or explanation. I am genuinely reminded of the apocalyptic finale of Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym.

“Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!”

On The Whiteness

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , on January 30, 2012 by dcairns

“And now we rushed into the embraces of the cataract, where a chasm threw itself open to receive us. But there arose in our pathway a shrouded human figure, very far larger in its proportions than any dweller among men. And the hue of the skin of the figure was of the perfect whiteness of the snow.”

Words from The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym by Edgar Allan Poe.

Image from THE CONQUEST OF THE SOUTH POLE by Georges Melies. Given Le Grand Melies’ habit of adapting Verne, with a dash of uncredited HG Wells, it doesn’t seem impossible that Poe was on his mind while knocking up this caper. It may have been the first Melies I ever saw, extracted in a Killiam compilation screened on TV. I think I already knew about KING KONG and stop-motion animation, so it was fascinating to see a giant monster produced using the technique a child (or naive adult) might assume had been used on the big gorilla: a bunch of people piled together in a suit.

Well, Melies’ monster is more like a machine than a costume, the support structure and apparatus being more important than the human element.

Interestingly, despite what might seem my relative sophistication at the time, I don’t think I grasped the implications of the Ice Giant being mostly concealed below the horizon line: I assumed Melies had constructed the entire creature from head to toe. Also, I didn’t question the strange perspectival implications of his arising from beyond the vanishing point.