11/23/15

D.O.A. FILM FESTIVAL PRESENTS "CREATION"



The D.O.A. (dead on arrival) Film Festival continues with a few minutes of footage from the scrapped 1931 pre-"Jurassic Park" dinosaur epic "Creation." The brainchild of stop motion animation pioneer Willis O'Brien, "Creation" used O'Brien's then startling special effect model-miniatures to tell the story of a man on an island filled with dinosaurs. (Or something like that. I don't have the time to read the full Wikipedia entry. Read it yourself, for Chrissakes). David Selznick, then the young, pudgy and arrogant head of production at RKO, looked at the footage and cancelled the film, allegedly due to its expensive and slow progress. But there's another wrinkle to this tale. Merian C. Cooper, who was already planning his "King Kong" (he conceived and produced the legendary pre "King Kong" "King Kong") was behind the scenes, advising Selznick to shitcan the movie due to its "boring" plot. In a year, Cooper would turn around and hire O'Brien to create the stop-motion Kong model effects.

This sounds to me like a typical Hollywood fuckover. Cooper clearly admired O'Brien's work and I would guess wanted his movie to be the first to showcase the techniques that O'Brien used and conspired to sabotage O'Brien's own film in order to have first dibs on the stop motion stuff. Four minutes of "Creation" are said to survive. The above posted stuff is referred to as "test footage" though I doubt O'Brien thought he was taking a test--he thought he was making his film. Still, it's quite chilling in its antique way--not only for the scary dinosaurs (part of what makes them scary is the antique herky-jerky nature of O'Brien's primitive but fascinating technique), but for the eerie abandoned film vibe that I'm getting into: a cancelled film is an unfinished story, and because it exists on celluloid the humans are there staring at us, wondering why they got left behind when the other fellas got to go to the theaters.

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