atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#7299: For no good reason, today's theme

"Danse Infernale", by Igor Stravinsky:

29 years ago, two friends and I decided to make a movie.

Captain Fantastic was meant to be an inversion of the 1960s Batman. He was rude, crude, vulgar, dishonest, conniving, thieving, and all around not a good guy. It was not meant to be a "good" movie, in the sense that it would be art for the ages. It was meant to be a low-budget comedy thing. It managed that.

After a hectic summer of videotaping when we could manage it, I was left with two videotapes full of raw footage. Because I was the one with two VCRs, the post-production work was left to me. The friend who owned the video camera loaned me his four-track recorder; that, coupled with my stereo and computer and a few other things, served to complete my editing suite. I picked the music, did the necessary sound effects that had been omitted in production, compiled all the footage, and ran off the master copy of the movie.

"Danse Infernale" became the theme song of the movie. Even now, I can't hear it without seeing the opening titles to it in my mind, done on a Commodore 64 computer.

One thing I would still like to do is to take the raw video (long since transferred to DVD-R--I did that in 2006) and edit it on the computer. For opening titles I would take the comic strips drawn by the guy who played the eponymous character in the movie, lay them out at random on a table, and do slow pans across the resulting collage, while "Danse Infernale" plays. Overlay credits on that.

There isn't much that can be done about the quality of the video. Taped on a VHS camcorder made in 1990, it's not even high band video (SVHS). And in the time that transpired between taping and conversion to digital media, of course there was some degradation.

The guy who owned the camera, he had originally thought to shoot the movie in chronological order and edit in the camera: if a take was bad, rewind and start over. That turned out to cause a bit of trouble, though: the first night's worth of filming had some issues with clipped dialogue and so forth. A camcorder that uses tape as its recording medium does not always start recording the instant you press the button, even if the tally light goes on.

Anyway, after the thing was done, no one seeemed to have much interest in it any longer. To this day I can still say that I am the person who has watched that movie the most...mainly because I saw it so many times while editing and copying and duplicating final versions for distribution. Everyone who wanted one got a copy; I'd wager they watched it once or twice and then forgot about it, leaving it to languish in a box somewhere, and eventually tossing the tape when they realized they no longer had a way to play it.

It has been, after all, 29 years since then.

Next year will be the 20th anniversary of 9/11, but it'll be the 30th anniversary of Captain Fantastic. In 1991 I wasn't thinking about 2021; I was thinking about the immediate future--next semester in college, next year, the next step.

I could not have imagined 2021 from where I stood then, not with any kind of accuracy. In 1991, cell phones were still ginormous bricks, not portable computers with touch screens. Al Gore hadn't invented the Internet yet. DVDs hadn't been invented yet and "on demand" video was a distant fantasy; you still went to Blockbuster and rented a videotape. You could get a laptop, but it weighed a good dozen pounds, and cost a fortune.

That was a time when you wore a pager if you were a person who needed to be in constant contact; the pager would go off and display a phone number, and you'd call the number from the nearest available telephone. Cellular service literally charged by the minute, and God help you if you were outside of your "home" service area, because roaming charges were $YEECH!

You could still find pay phones.

...and if you needed to look something up, you went to the encyclopedia. If you didn't have an encyclopedia, or if you needed more than what was there, you went to the library. I mean, you physically left your house and went to the library and looked up your subject in the card catalog and--

Google had not been invented yet. No one (but for a precious few of the initiated) used email. @ was still mainly used for pricing items and was falling into disuse. And forget #; that was used by (still new!) voicemail systems as a kind of enter key. Only UNIX gurus called that "hash".

Video was still analog, televisions were still glass bulbs, and 27" was a big screen. Projection TVs were bigger but cost enormously more than the glass bulbs did.

I could go on and on. Thirty years--it might as well be a different country, as they say.

In the 21st century I think Captain Fantastic is more important than ever. The one thing CF never was, was politically correct, not in the slightest way. Kind of ironic considering that 2/3 of the creative force behind the movie were left-wingers in every important respect.

In a world where black trans-lesbians are the only people allowed to be superheros, I think Captain Fantastic is the one we need most.

* * *

Being out of contact with the other parties, though, I cannot simply upload the thing to YouTube and let it go. "Cancel culture" being what it is, and this movie being what it is, who the hell knows what would happen? One person or another says something the slightest bit offensive to some useless snowflake out there, and suddenly his career is over. There is not (should not be) anything in the movie that would cause such. There are no racial epithets thrown around, no women are exposed, swearing is actually rather minimal, and it's obvious that the whole thing is meant to be purely ridiculous; but that doesn't stop the snowflakes from pitching a completely disproportionate bitch about whatever it is that "triggered" them.

Which is a shame, all told. I think it'd be good for a laugh.


A different friend borrowed a video camera and one of the resulting things was when he took covers of Rolling Stone and cut the mouths out of the people on them, and then said things. It was hilarious, to us (who were there) at least, and we could not watch the damned thing without laughing uproariously all over again. Even now, I'm remembering him with the Sting cover, projecting his front teeth through the cutout mouth and doing a hillbilly laugh, "Haw haw haw," and I'm literally laughing out loud at the memory of it.

But we showed this video to some folks at a party and no one laughed.

Ah, hell, I don't know. Is this long enough?

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