OK, you’ll have to allow me this little detour into teenage obsession. When I was about ten, my parents bought me a View-Master with a 3-reel set of Tarzan of the Apes. Being the dreamer that I was – and still am, I suppose – I just loved to get lost inside those stereoscopic images, and I’ve looked at them so often that they must have left a questionable imprint on my young brain. The lush, nightmarish tableaux struck a nerve in me. All that muscle, the big hairy apes, plus a Jane outfit so tight that I kept expecting it to burst open… Let’s be honest: This was nothing less than a sexual awakening.
Unfortunately, I lended my View-Master reels out to a friend, who lost them when he moved to another house. Since then, all I had left was my memory of them. Enter the Internet… More than twenty years later, I googled the words “Tarzan view master” and guess what? There they were: All 21 images collected on a single webpage, captions included! As soon as I discovered this link, a wide grin appeared on my face. Too bad the pictures looked a tad fuzzy, I thought. Then it occurred to me that they were perhaps fuzzy for a reason. I grabbed the red-and-green glasses that came with my son’s Spy Kids 3D DVD (no recommendation), and yes sir: Glorious 3D! A lot of detail, sense of depth and color information got lost in the translation to cyberspace, but this 36-year-old kid is grateful nonetheless.
There’s something about this artwork (a combination of miniatures, clay models and matte paintings?) that I still find incredibly appealing. It’s the sensuous mixture of realism and artifice, kitsch and craft, romance and savagery; the melodramatic poses; the chiaroscuro (some of the lighting is pure Caravaggio); the meticulous staging. This is what Ray Harryhausen‘s wet dreams should look like.
Go get your 3D glasses (I know you saved them in a drawer somewhere) and have a look yourself. Do any of you recognize this View-Master set? Is there someone who can tell me more about who made it, and how? Which animation studio will have the guts to produce a CGI-feature that looks as awesome as this?