In which, Andrew and Tracy revisit the topic of literary influences. We discover that most of Andrew’s are sci-fi books that have since been turned into movies, and that Tracy is a little too passionate about C. S. Lewis. Also we get sidetracked on Hunter S. Thompson, the libertarian views of Robert Heinlein, and the bizarre scientific theory that led six men to take a balsa wood raft from Peru to the Polynesian islands (a trip that took 101 days) in 1947.
Tag Archives: The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe
In which Andrew and Tracy discuss their favorite origin stories, and what makes a good origin story. Origin stories aren’t limited to comic books, and we’ve got some good ones to talk about. Also, there is some random bantering back and forth. Tracy accidentally spoils Game of Thrones Season 4, and Andrew promises to edit it out. We wrap up by telling Therefore I Geek’s own origin story, in celebration of our first anniversary.
I remember the very first “behind the scenes” special feature I ever watched. It was a video of Andy Serkis wearing a motion capture suit in a warehouse, acting out the part of Gollum. At the time we had a 54K dialup modem, and since each of us kids were only allowed an hour of internet per day, we would all sacrifice our internet time to wait for the whole video to download so we could watch it all the way from the beginning. I was fifteen years old, and that was the Golden Age of the special feature.
These days, special features are going the way of the Dodo. I would mourn them, but to be honest, I cannot remember the last time I bothered to watch the DVD special features. I think that this progression has been mostly organic, based on technological advances, but I also think that movie buffs are experiencing special feature fatigue.
The birth of the DVD suddenly provided extra space for producers and especially directors to show off all of the things that they do to create the amazing movies that their fans love. At first, we were incredibly grateful! Suddenly we fans felt as though we were right on set. We learned about all the things that go into making one minute of Star Wars. Then we watched as Mark Hamill got better and better at light saber choreography.
Later on, my siblings and I squirmed in anticipation as we waited for the special features from the official Lord of the Rings website to download. (One of my favorite videos was the one entitled “Bringing Gollum to Life.”)
Another movie with great special features was Pixar’s The Incredibles. We watched the voice actors talk into microphones (titillating stuff) and learned how Brad Bird, the director, became the official voice of Edna Mold. I don’t know about other fans, but we watched these short videos over and over until we had almost memorized them as much as we memorized the movie from which they came.
In the early days, few DVDs came with very many special features. A few had the music video to the credit song, and occasionally a blooper reel. Before too long, however, every DVD had a host of special features, including the ever popular actor/director commentary—the entire movie, but being talked over by cast or crew member describing funny stories or explaining the technical reasons behind certain screen decisions. DVDs were released in expensive two- and four-disc sets to have room for all the extras. Even TV series were including commentaries on the DVD releases of each season. Brian Collins of Badass Digest said it well:
“[G]uys actually had to dig out these elements and put them into the movie, not to mention create the other original content on the disc. It probably cost almost as much to put together this DVD (including the remastering, rights acquisition, man hours spent digging up the materials, etc) as it did to make the movie in the first place.”
Since then, technology and the free market system has changed a lot about the way that fans watch movies. Rental versions of DVD’s—once the full movie and all its features from a Blockbuster shelf—are now single discs in a paper sleeve. Distributors wanted to encourage movie renters to purchase DVDs, so they stopped including all the special features on rental discs. Now, many people get their movie fix by streaming videos or downloading digital versions, which come with even fewer features. As time goes on, already fatigued viewers have gotten out of the habit of watching them.
I personally do not mourn the slow death of movie special effects for the most part. Soon after The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe came out on DVD, I sat down to watch the actor commentary. It didn’t take long for me to be weary of the banal stories of actors in massive costumes tripping over their hooves, and of Georgie Henley’s (Lucy Pevensie) surprise on her first moment in the wintery world of Narnia. While I thought of the older Director’s Cut DVD sets as something like film school at home, I also find myself experiencing special feature fatigue.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I found a video describing exactly how Peter Jackson got the runes on the doors of Khazad-Dum to glow.
I lived a very sheltered childhood, and so books have been the staple influence in my life. My mom read to me when I was very small (we started the Little House on the Prairie series with her reading to me, and ended them with me reading to her). I was off and running into the wild world of books that ended up taking me all over the world and beyond it. Some of the authors and books that have influenced me (and this is only a partial list) are below.
- As a girl, I was obsessed with horses, and thoroughly enjoyed Marguerite Henry’s White Stallion of Lipizza and of course, Misty of Chincoteague, as well as Cinnabar, the One O’clock Fox (although this one was more about the fox than the horses). I preferred the less well-known books. White Stallion of Lipizza had me sitting backward on kitchen chairs for months, because that was how the Lipizzaner trainers would stretch the inside of their thighs to fit over the extra wide barrel of those gorgeous horses.
- The Colored Fairy Books were another huge influence on me. Andrew Lang took me all over the world, from the snowy, troll infested forests of Germany to the oyster beds off the coast of Polynesia. I can’t wait to introduce my nephews to this series.
- C.S. Lewis was a huge influence on me very early on in my life. I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe so early that I cannot remember reading it for the first time. I lost count of my rereads at number nineteen. I also read and enjoyed the space trilogy. Perelandra was a beautiful picture of an idyllic world that made me ache for a place I had never been. That Hideous Strength was a book that I read long before I was ready. It was terrifying, but beautifully written. Till We Have Faces was amazing and profound.
- I was also really interested in all of the classic authors; Dickens, Austen, and the Bronte sisters were high on my list. Unfortunately, thanks to the Great Illustrated Classics, abridged books for children, many of these books were ruined for me. I couldn’t even get through David Copperfield until I was in my late teens. That abridged series taught me to loathe spoilers. I guess the children’s versions had some influence on me as well as the original versions.
- I continued to read books that I could technically comprehend, but was not old enough to properly digest. I read Jane Eyre when I was fourteen, and I was not particularly impressed. I felt that Charlotte Bronte got lost on her way to the conclusion. On the other hand, after I read Wuthering Heights, I wandered around the house in a funk for a couple of days.
- One of the greatest influences on my life was a series called The Young Underground, by Robert Elmer. These books were about a young brother and sister, Peter and Elise Anderson, who smuggle underground newspapers, and later humans, in Nazi occupied Denmark. These books influenced me, not because of their content, but because my mom used to read them to my siblings and me to keep us close as a family after she had to go back to work.
This can only be a partial list (it’s not even CLOSE to a full one), because there were so very many books that influenced me growing up. I am happy to say that I continue to find books that change the way I see the world, so the list continues to grow. -t