It’s been virtually 4 years since I had the intense thought to evaluation the Eyewitness Dinosaur video, a factual quick movie that was a treasured childhood possession (and one thing I’ve really managed to carry onto, which I’m completely satisfied about even when it’s on a completely out of date format and the movie is now available on-line. So there). Within the interim, I’ve been made conscious of one other kid-friendly dino-factual VHS that emerged from the UK over a decade prior – in 1982. It, too, was apparently a treasured childhood possession for a lot of, with numerous YouTube commenters expressing variations on the theme of “THIS WAS MY LIFE!”. So, what’s the fuss all about? Let’s discover out. Oh boy.
All the pictures right here come from an add on YouTube by DinosaurTheatre.
Dinosaurs: Enjoyable, Truth and Fantasy is a merry, musical romp via dinosaur palaeontology, incorporating what they have been, when and the place they lived, completely different dinosaur teams, the connection between people and dinosaurs, and a quiz present wherein glove puppets of Lesothosaurus, Diplodocus, Tyrannosaurus and a Welsh dragon reply questions posed by a googly-eyed puppet crocodile, whereas a silent Pteranodon retains shut watch. You realize, the same old kind of factor. The whole affair is hosted by an unseen, anonymous narrator and stated crocodile, whose title is Dil and has a voice supplied by Derek Griffiths. In the event you’re British, you’ll definitely recognise him; Griffiths has appeared in quite a few British youngsters’ TV exhibits through the years, together with Eighties sequence of Look and Learn that have been nonetheless being repeated to us in class within the ’90s. However I digress.
I shan’t beat concerning the bush, right here – I discover Dil quite annoying. In truth, I’d go so far as to say that I discover him very annoying, however that’s merely a product of his child-friendly, overbearingly enthusiastic nature. I suppose it’s fairly spectacular that they managed to offer a quite primary, perma-grinning puppet fairly a lot grating character. In addition to interacting with the off-screen narrator, Dil sings the movie’s many songs (for Griffiths is a singer in addition to an actor). These embrace a recurring quantity that at all times begins with Dil singing the next:
“Now listed here are some very unusual dinosaur names,
Attempt to say them out loud, after which say them once more!
Diplodocus, Vulcanodon and Plat-e-osaurus,
Iguanodon, Deinonychus and Tyranno-SAUR-us!
Triceratops, See-loh-fi-sees and Hy[deep inhalation]psilophodon!
Torosaurus, Stegosaurus, that’s about sufficient of ’em!”
That is adopted by the narrator rattling off an inventory of dinosaurs belonging to whichever clade is below dialogue – be they sauropods (or “the plodders”), “chook footed dinosaurs”, “meat eaters” and many others. It rang a bell in my memory of songs on a cassette I had as a child, which got here from the Early Studying Centre, a series of retailers stocked with edumacational toys geared toward babies (together with Carnegie dinosaur figures, most notably); the method of itemizing sophisticated names over a catchy beat is a actually efficient technique to get youngsters to be taught stuff. I nonetheless bear in mind the songs (and names) on that tape. (Oh pricey, future weblog put up within the making, that one…)
The odd pronunciation of ‘Coelophysis‘ right here can simply be excused as simply making the phrase match the music, however I did discover extra peculiar pronunciations scattered all through the movie. Specifically, the rendering of Iguanodon as “Ig-yoo-wah-no-don” actually caught out to me. I’m positive I used to listen to ‘iguana’ pronounced as ‘ig-yoo-wah-na’ very often again within the ’90s, however ‘ig-wah-na’ appears to be the usual as of late. Fairly presumably, it’s an especially parochial British factor. (For what it’s price, I definitely pronounce it ‘ig-wah-no-don’.)
In any case, many of the songs are well-written however very a lot child-friendly affairs, beautifully designed to Train Issues to Kids. Nonetheless, I did actually get pleasure from a quantity close to the tip that was sung from the angle of varied non-dinosaurs, who have been fairly eager on extolling the superiority of not being dinosaurs. It’s nicely written, refreshing in not diminishing the animals as a result of they’re not dinosaurs, and contains a intentionally crude stop-motion animation of varied very cheap-looking rubbery dinosaur toys that I loved very a lot.
By way of, you already know, the precise science, it’s a lot as you’d count on for the time. The opportunity of a dinosaur-bird hyperlink is talked about, however downplayed, with birds’ numerous dinosaurian options written off as “coincidental” (for they really emerged from a standard thecodont ancestor, you see! YOU SEE!?!). Tyrannosaurus is talked about as being a scary beast, but in addition sluggish and due to this fact most likely principally a scavenger. Dinosaurs’ tiny brains are talked about, however not such a giant deal is made from it as would have been 20 years prior. And so forth.
However nobody right this moment is watching this for the science – it’ll be for any glimpse of shonky stop-motion, clips of previous films, and pictures of previous dinosaur displays. Naturally, Enjoyable, Truth and Fantasy gives loads of all of these. Proper from the beginning, we’re handled to a plasticine theropod (that appears like a brand new, terrifying type of Morph, and likewise like a Neave Parkerish Megalosaurus) searching Iguanodon, and whereas it’d look quite dodgy right this moment, I can think about youngsters within the Eighties being enthralled by it. Even within the ’90s, there was nonetheless so little naturalistic dinosaur animation on the market (versus previous films wherein they menaced people) that I ate up all the pieces I may discover.
In fact, there are (as I discussed) loads of previous film clips right here too, in addition to valuable insights into what sure establishments appeared like up to now. Specifically, there are numerous photographs of previous gallery layouts in London’s Pure Historical past Museum, highlighting simply how a lot you may really see again then, earlier than the ’90s hit and all the pieces needed to be darkish and edgy and funky and XTREME. Bah.
Oh, and there’s after all a section wherein actors dressed as Gideon Mantell and Mary Ann Mantell occur upon the Iguanodon tooth, after which ponder over what they’ve discovered. This naturally features a music that repeats a few times too typically.
For what it’s price, I quite loved this curious little artefact, regardless of Dil’s irritating nature, the child-friendly repetitive songs, and the truth that by the point I’d reached the aforementioned quiz section I used to be fairly satisfied that I’d misplaced my bloody thoughts. I can see why persons are so keen on it; despite the fact that 1992 was virtually over once I turned 5 years previous, I can nicely see myself having fun with it then.
That jogs my memory – isn’t it the thirtieth anniversary of one thing or different this 12 months? Ought to I hassle writing something about that? Is there something left to be stated? Let me know in case you like. So, uh, there it’s.