Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Fantasy Film Worlds of George Pal

The 1960 version of The Time Machine was on TCM earlier today as part of a look at films nominated for Special Effects Oscars in this day of 31 Days of Oscar. I suppose I probably should have mentioned the documentary The Fantasy Film Worlds of George Pal, since Pal was responsible for the effects in The Time Machine. The documentary is available as one of the many extras on the pricey Blu-ray version of The Puppetoon Movie, while Amazon also mentions a MOD version at a more moderate price.

The documentary is fairly standard and what you might expect if you saw TCM was running one of the documentaries they do on an old star or director. There's some biographical information and a fairly chronological look at the movies for which Pal created the special effects, starting with his advertising days in the Netherlands where he went on first fleeing Nazi Germany, through to the 60s.

One of the nice things about this particular documentary is that since was was first released in 1985, there are a lot of interviews with people who were involved with the feature films, some behind the scenes and a fair number of the stars. A great many of these people are no longer with us, and it's wonderful to have these interviews recorded for posterity.

There was some talk about the behind-the-scenes part of the special effects, although it didn't strike me as nearly as much as, say, the TCM Spotlight a couple of years ago on MGM effects man A. Arnold Gillespie, which has two modern-day effects artists to discuss how the effects in those specific old movies were done. That quibble aside, The Fantasy Film Worlds of George Pal is an excellent introduction to his work.

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