Saturday, November 19, 2011

Gertie the Dinosaur

An academic husband comes with benefits you might expect – the ability to translate Latin inscriptions at a glance and quote "The Waste Land" at just the right moment, a library of books you’d never buy for yourself, but like to read on occasion, a schedule that allows at least a week off for Christmas. Later you discover that someone who can memorize long passages from Ovid can memorize just about anything, and is a walking database of Beatles songs as well.* And that anyone interested in early 20th century poetry might find early 20th century films just as cool.

Which helps explain why we’ve spent the last few weeks watching silent movies and cartoon shorts each night before the kids go to bed. The animations come from a top 50 cartoons list picked out by a scad of animators almost twenty years ago,** and now listed in Wikipedia for easy reference. The earliest cartoons have a tendency to the surreal, with nightmarish worlds getting built and then twisted inside and out at the whim of the animator, and they are mostly not my favorite. We all developed a fondness for Gertie the dinosaur*** though, and I thought you might like to meet her too.

* I can’t guarantee this quirk in every academic, just mine.
** The list was published in The Top 50 Greatest Cartoons: As Selected by 1000 Animation Professionals, by Jerry Beck.
*** You'll probably know her parent, Winsor McCay, through his most famous character - Little Nemo.


Barrett Bonden said...

And who can answer questions like this: "I had enormous problems reading Henry James The Awkward Age; I really didn't know what to make of it."

Answer: "Just don't bother."

lizardek said...


Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I am SO intrigued by this list of cartoons! I may begin what you've started and try to watch all of them.

Julia said...

It's an excellent list, and what makes it so useful now (compared to 1994 when it was first published) is that you can see so many of those movies on YouTube. Will calls it Youtopia for film buffs. I'd love to hear your favorites when you go through and watch them.