Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Pandora Kid


I watched the film Avatar last evening. Mainly because I wanted to see what sort of thing is going on in animation these days. I'm so far out of the loop that I'm not even sure what CGI stands for (although I can guess).

The film was a long slog. Shock-and-awe meets Pocahontas. All those pretty blue people sitting around their holy shrine grooving on cosmic vibrations gave me the creeps. New-Agey schlock and aww. But I gotta admit the animation (if that's what you call it) was mightily impressive.

Again, that just shows how far I am behind the curve. The last computer game I played was Pong.

You want to see how far behind the curve? Here's the animation that registers among my earliest memories, Mickey Mouse as The Klondike Kid (1932). I must have seen it a hundred times, silently projected onto the silver screen in our living room in Chattanooga, Tennessee, by my Dad's 8-mm Keystone projector. And -- lo and behold -- I can watch it now on YouTube, with sound, no less.

And here's the kicker: I remember every scene -- vividly. Seventy years later it's as faithfully recorded in my synapses as it is on YouTube.

Mickey drinking beer! Besting "Pegleg" Pete. Smooching Minnie. If I may say so, it's a minor work of genius that Avatar, for all its CGI glitz, doesn't approach. Now that I think of it, it's pretty much the same plot, although Avatar's female lead Neytiri takes a rather more active role in besting the villain than did Mickey's Minnie.