Saturday, November 12, 2011

Today in Pop Culture History: Nessie and Mickey

12 November 1933: The first photo of the Loch Ness monster was taken. In addition to anchoring an excellent episode of In Search Of . . . with Leonard Nimoy, the cryptozoological mystery beast was the inspiration for one of the best mockumentaries ever made, Incident at Loch Ness. You think you like Werner Herzog now? Trust me, you have not even begun to plumb the depths of his awesomeness.

Much more intriguing and elegant than chupacabra, don't you think?

12 November 1940: Disney released the first version of Fantasia, a pretty damn trippy cartoon. Though most of us probably remember it only for the "Sorcerer's Apprentice" segment, it included seven other animation sequences set to classical music. In a positively pomo move, Walt Disney intended the film to be an ever-evolving text with different segments constantly being introduced, so no one would see the same movie twice. That didn't quite work out due to the film's poor box office performance, but the film slowly gained in popularity as the years went on, with quite a spike in interest amongst young people during the late '60s. Wonder why that is. The "Sorcerer's Apprentice" segment, based on a poem by Goethe and designed as a comeback for Mickey Mouse, remains the film's most lasting pop cultural artifact, and was also the ur-text for the, to my mind, underrated 2010 sci-fi/fantasy flick The Sorcerer's Apprentice. Though troubling if you're prone to anxiety, it is a beautiful piece of animation:

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