This blog post is horribly overdue, I'll admit. The First lady of Inkville had a work conference in Los Angeles back in August, and I tagged along. Besides visiting to Disneyland, eating Brazilian food, and hitting numerous tiki locales, I flew solo for one day and visited the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, where I saw two fantastic museum exhibitions, both of which were ending that very day.
The AMPAS Ray Harryhausen exhibition was an incredible collection of photographs, film clips, and, most excitingly, scale models. Many non-geeks are sadly unaware of Harryhausen and his legacy. The man was a genius of stop motion animation, animating fantasy sequences in films like Mighty Joe Young, The Seven Voyages of Sinbad, and, most excitingly for this 7th grade Greek Mythology fanatic, the original Clash of the Titans.
Photography wasn't allowed in the galleries, and a dude behind a desk was glowering at me a bit, so I hope you'll forgive these grainy, through-the-lucite iPhone photos, one of the models for Perseus and the Pegasus, the other of the monstrous Kraken. Seeing these models up close reminded me of the amazing level of fear and anticipation Harryhausen inspired in my middle school self with his Medusa sequence, and how the CGI effects of the recent Clash remake fail to deliver in terms of visceral fright... even with the requisite mental adjustment to account for nostalgia.
The second exhibition was even more amazing, and the real reason I mastered aggro Los Angeles traffic to make the commute to AMPAS. The exhibition featured materials and ephemera from the career of Chuck Jones, the amazing director of a number of your favorite Looney Tunes shorts from midcentury ("What's Opera, Doc?," anyone? "One Froggy Evening"?), including animation cells, cartoon scripts, personal correspondence, video clips, and even the man's Oscar statuette.
Chuck Jones was a bit (okay, a lot) of a personal hero of mine in the 80s and early 90s. I read the man's autobiography, as well as several other tomes on animation history. I watched Looney Tunes incessantly. I still think that the two-part Elmer Fudd hunting series cartoons Jones directed stand as some of the best-timed and funniest animated films in the medium.
Again, no photos were allowed, so I grabbed these images of the Internet. In fact, security was so tight at this thing, I halfway expected to see Foghorn Leghorn with a baseball bat whacking weasels on the head. When a couple of confused museum-goers confusedly attempted to stray into the AMPAS screening theatre, they were escorted back out again, quite definitively. A far cry from laid-back Oregon.
Amazing exhibitions, amazing trip. That's all, folks!