The Little Prince

Antoine de Saint-ExuperyOne of the founders of the Mayo Clinic, William James Mayo, was born on this day in 1861. Singer Nelson Eddy was born in 1901.

And the great, great, great special effects master Ray Harryhausen was born in 1920. Harryhausen only died last month. He is best remembered for his films Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans. His work holds up surprisingly well in this world of computer animation where literally anything can be done. Something to note about his films is that the look of them is not dictated by his special effects. That is a common complaint of mine about many more modern special effects.

Here is a short Turner Classic Movies tribute to Harryhausen:

Addiction guru but mostly idiot John Bradshaw is 80 today. Actor Gary Busey is 69. And comedian Richard Lewis is 66. When I was younger, I though he was hysterical. Now I find him kind of annoying.

The day, however, belongs to author Antoine de Saint-Exupery. He is best known for The Little Prince. He sadly disappeared on a reconnaissance mission during World War II at the age of 44. Here is the first part of the book read aloud:

Happy birthday Antoine de Saint-Exupery!

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “The Little Prince

  1. There’s a story about "Jurassic Park," a really dumb movie with wonderful dinosaur effects. Apparently, it was already in production when the digital geeks made some screen tests and submitted them to Spielberg, who was planning to make the movie with traditional stop-motion and puppetry. The screen tests were so good that Spielberg decided on replacing stop-motion with CGI.

    Spielberg’s more than a bit of a doofus when it comes to human emotions, but he’s no slouch about the technical side of his movies. In a brilliant move, he put stop-motion wizard Phil Tippett (the four-legged snow war machines from "Empire," the ED-209 from "RoboCop") in charge of the CGI team. The computer kids could create anything they imagined digitally; Tippett (who worked with Harryhausen) showed them how to imagine dinosaurs that looked threatening and believable.

    I think something similar was at work with the (now, apparently ended) stretch of superb Pixar films. The people who made "The Incredibles" and "Wall-E" and "Up" and"Toy Story 3" came up in traditional animation; they knew how to use story and visual design to mask the technical imperfections of their medium. Once they had limitless visual perfection to work with, the results were amazing.

    If you’ve never seen it, check out Brad Bird’s "The Iron Giant." (He did "The Incredibles" and "Ratatouille," and a forgettable live-action Tom Cruise movie.) I think I have a sense of movies you’d like (they shouldn’t be too dark, they should be funny and unpretentious, but neither should they be shallow) — and that’s really one that works fantastically well. It’s quite affecting . . . and it’s actually anti-gun, on top of being just a terrific "boy meets imaginary friend who turns out to be real" story that’s better than "E.T."

  2. @JMF – My theory is that animated films are better because they have to finalize the script before they can start production. Most action films seem like they start with 20 pages of dialog and figure they will create action scenes to link them together. So a lot of my family think I like cartoons, but that isn’t really it. I just like well told stories.

    I requested the film. I’ll let you know.

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