For a grown-up cartoon geek in the 1980s like myself, Marv Newland’s “Bambi Meeds Godzilla” was truly iconic. It was an early example of Very Independent Animation, Remix Culture, Shock Video and Scrolling Credits Silliness. But even in big theaters as part of an Independent Animation Festival or on late-night cable TV (it’s the first listed animation example on a “Night Flight” fansite), it always looked like an umpteenth-generation copy. And by the time it made it to YouTube, it looked even worse.
See the ‘unrestored’ version
So it was probably inevitable that some video geek would go beyond ‘restoring’ it, all the way to totally ‘rebuilding’ it, Six-Million-Dollar-Man-style (but at much less expense). Coda Shetterly (aka KindredCoda) was that video geek and he tells all about the Making of the Remake here.
But less than a week later, Cartoon blogger Jerry Beck revealed that Marv Newland had assembled a DVD collection of restored copies of the best and best-known shorts made by him and his “International Rocketship Limited” mini-animation-studio. Apparently, Newland’s entire Internet Marketing Plan for the release was to send Beck a copy so he could blog about it. And of course, “Bambi Meets Godzilla” is in there, in first position.
So the question arose, will this Official Restored version of “BMG” make the Re-Created version unnecessary? Redundant? A waste of Mr. Shetterly’s time? I had to find out. The only way to order was to send a check for $20, American or Canadian, to International Rocketship, 278-1857 West 4th Ave. Vancouver, British Columbia V6J 1M4 Canada. I decided I trusted Jerry Beck enough to send the $20. (It is a ‘limited edition’; I can’t guarantee there will be any left if you send for it now, but I now trust Marv Newland to return your check if there aren’t.)
And I have received it.
Woo hoo! Autographed personalized post-it note and all!
Now, I’m not going to upload this version to the Internet (or acknowledge if anyone else does… which no one has, yet), but I can give you a screenshot to contrast and compare.
Did the Re-Creator ‘clean it up’ too much? Or did Newland restore it too little? Who cares? I’ll watch both. Besides, there are 11 other pieces of excellent, artistic, outrageous and/or hilarious animation on that disk. Allow me to introduce them to you (in chronological order):
“Sing Beast Sing” is a leisurely nine-minute series of odd and random sight gags centered round The Toledo Mung Beast lipsyncing a 1953 blues record. A slow warm-up for what was to come…
“Anijam” is a collaborative effort among 22 independent animators each doing a brief segment with the conditions that they begin and end with the character “Foska” (featuring him was optional but the majority did), flowing almost seamlessly among extremely divergent styles. (Some cartoon nudity and other naughtiness)
“Black Hula” is a piece of seemingly heavy social commentary in which a naturally occurring paradise is visited by missionaries (bearing cultural symbols of varying propriety) who lead the natives into modernity and destruction. But another paradise emerges, reject the missionaries and gets destroyed anyway. The message: damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Very effective use of an old recording of traditional Hawaiian music.
“The Butterfly”, directed by Dieter Mueller (one of International Rocketship’s frequently-credited animators) and “based on a novel by S.J. Hentzen”, returns of to the realm of the quick one-joke film with an ugly/cute central character and an ending I refuse to spoil.
“Dog Brain”, directed by J. Falconer (another International Rocketship regular whose other credits range from the CGI “Beast Wars” to the questionable w007 revival of “George of the Jungle”), attempts to answer the question “What do dogs dream about?” complete with a staff of veterinary technical advisors. Yeah, I’m gonna spoil this one.
“Lupo the Butcher” is directed by Danny Antonucci, who went on to create and produce “Ed Edd & Eddy” for Cartoon Network. The character design is familiar, but the character is an angry, foul-mouthed meat cutter who reacts to every little problem with rage and ultimately… well, goes to pieces. But comically.
“Waddles”, directed by Dan Collins, is about a square man trying to move forward in a very square universe…
“Pink Komkommer” is another collaborative cartoon with an animated old lady dozing off into a series of absurd erotic dreams in varying cartoon styles. TOTALLY Not Safe For Any But the Strong of Heart and Genatalia (getting a usable screengrab of a dream was not easy).
“Explodium”, directed by Peter McAdams, is a cautionary and slapsticky tale of science before its time.
“The Friday Night Idiot Box”, directed by Bruce Wilson (also credited with Animating, Late Nights and Stress), breaks the one-gag pattern with three examples of bad TV etiquette, each animated in a different style.
After all this sex, violence, naughtiness, absurdity and mayhem, Marv Newland finishes with a pleasant coda in his “Beijing Flipbook”, being the result of his actual sketches made on a trip to China.
Just under an hour of active mind-bending independent animation. Well worth my $20 American.