Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Dreamt that a planet was discovered at the centre of our solar system, where we'd all supposed the sun to be. For some reason, what'd looked like a sun from a distance was in fact a planet similer to earth, covered with green and water.

With an old man, a raven, and a spaceship, I journeyed to that world. We wandered through vibrant green forests under a blue, sunless sky, finding no apparent sentient inhabitants. Then we came upon a very nice, large house of dark mahogany wood and various places to put scotch and bourbon. We wandered around in there, and stayed the night. The next day, we continued exploring the world.


Last night I watched Tarzan, the Ape Man. It was made in 1930, before the production code, so Maureen O'Sullivan got to look really gorgeous in a skimpy, shredded dress, confusedly handled by Tarzan. It was odd how much her screams sounded like the screaming apes clustered around them. Apparently, in 1934's Tarzan and His Mate, she even has an extended nude scene. Since 1934 was the year the production code was established, it gives a tantilising glimpse of what movies of the 40s and 50s--perhaps even society--might've been like if people'd realised from the beginning that the proposed code was in violation of the First Amendment.

Ah, well.

So, Tarzan the Ape Man. There were several moments in the movie that one might dismiss as racist, such as when Jane and her father's expidition are negotiating a lofty, hazardous cliff and one of the black men they'd hired to carry things falls to his death. Mr. Parker and Holtz seem far more concerned with the loss of what the man'd been carrying, although Holtz did add, as an afterthought, "Poor devil." Personally, I saw this more as an illustration of how hardassed the men were, and how pragmatic, rather than as casual racism.

Which is not to say there isn't racism in the movie. Much is made of the fact that Tarzan's white, for example, although Jane's father does have a line something like, "It doesn't matter what colour they are. They're all savages!"

Even so, I liked the movie. The scenes with the animals felt eerily genuine, as if Tarzan really was cooperating with the elephants and chimpanzees. I'm pretty sure that, in one scene, he's genuinely wrestling some lions. Of course, the poor animals must've been terrified going through whatever they'd been forced through to make them seem so canny for the camera.

I liked also how silent much of the scenes were of Tarzan and Jane hanging out in the trees. There was something truly animal about John Weismuller's Tarzan, something about the noises his body made scraping against the trees. This was one of those cases, I think, where Hollywood was blessed by the fact that it didn't know how to be as polished as it does to-day.

I suppose I've always had some difficulty with the Tarzan premise. I can never help wondering, "Why doesn't he have a beard? Why is his hair so perfect? Why does he wear a loincloth?" The answer to all of these questions, of course, is, "So he'll be presentable to the audience." I ought to read the book and find out if Edgar Rice Burroughs really meant it to be that way . . .

I made a new pin-up for Nar'eth. In the process, I learned a little about Indian jewellery and clothes.

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