The History Of Dinosaur Cinema Explored In The BBC's REX APPEAL

Written By: Ken Hulsey
Sources: BBC / Radio Times

The BBC has gone absolutely prehistoric with a new documentary about dinosaurs in the movies called "Rex Appeal". The hour-long special covers everything from "Gertie" to "Godzilla" with a collection of clips from the dino films that made all of our Saturday afternoons growing up all that more special.

Here is the scoop from the BBC:

From the beginnings of film-making to the triumph of Jurassic Park - the dinosaur has always been a movie star. Over 60 minutes, BBC4's Rex Appeal takes a bite out of the Cretaceous cinema and reveals the truth about T-Rex.

It's a story that stretches from the charming cartoon apatosaurus Gertie (1914), to the vicious and cunning velociraptors of Spielbrerg's imagination.

But it's not all teeth and trashing city centres - as our critics explain, dinosaur movies are always about more than just dinosaurs. The 'nature finds a way' DNA argument in Jurassic Park directly mirrored the arguements about GM crops in the early 90s. Godzilla - the radioactive-breathed dinosaur emerged from the seas of Japan just nine years after the nuclear attack on Hiroshima. King Kong and his dinosaur pals on Skull Island have sparked a million film school theories.

Of course, not all dino dramas are so high minded - in the Hammer film One Million Years BC, the audience were just as fascinated with Racquel Welsh's fur tops as they were with the Triceratops. Despite Hammer's claim that 'This is the way it was', the science was a little dubious- the last dinosaur died 64 million years before the first modern human appeared.

Whatever cultural anxieties dinosaurs represent, they've always been a cinematic spectacle that has thrilled audiences on a instinctual level - with each new breakthrough in special effects giving us ever more real Rex's.

Willis O'Brien gave us the legendary Kong v Rex fight that taught us to love Kong, Ray Harryhausen invented 'dinomation' and put dinosaurs and cowboys together in The Valley of Gwangi. And since the 90s - CGI has banished the man in the dino suit, and made prehistoric protagonists are more real than ever.

Contributors include film critics James King and Kim Newman, science broadcaster Adam Rutherford, comedian Susan Calman and broadcaster and film historian Matthew Sweet.

In conjunction with the broadcast of "Rex Appeal" the Radio Times in the UK has released their own list of the top 10 dinosaur films of all-time. It's a decent list but I would yank out "The Land Before Time" and insert "The Valley of Gwangi" but to each their own. You can check out the list HERE

"Rex Appeal" airs again on Sunday (October 2nd) on BBC 4

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the tip-off. Sky+ now set to record this in the early hours of Sunday morning :D


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