10 years after The Gospel According to Mel Gibson tapped the surest formula for box office gold (if not frankincense and myrhh), we see Hollywood marking, or rather marketing the anniversary with almost evangelical zeal.
From the digital deluge of Noah to a chain of Jesus, Mary, Pontius Pilate, Moses, Cain & Abel and Rapture reboots guaranteed a collective profit-margin of biblical proportions, far be it from cash cow-focused suits to be left behind when a calf this golden is spoiling to be milked.
Meanwhile, quasi-religious fervor over the hotly anticipated Godzilla reboot has franchise acolytes taking social media by storm per their own liturgy, with a ripple effect inviting no less than Plattsburgh’s Mayor’s Cup 2014 to celebrate our very own “monster” here.
With the first-ever Mayor’s Cup movie, the faithful may expect a reincarnation of Port Henry’s “Champ Day” event, sadly discontinued after 31 years of saluting Lake Champlain’s oldest enduring folklore.
Take heart, true believers. As the final attraction on the four-day festival’s July 11th playlist, Mayor’s Cup 2014 will channel “Champ Day” with help from the Rhedosaur, a (fictional) kindred spirit of Champ, Lake Champlain’s mysterious mascot.
At 9:15 p.m., behold the mighty Rhedosaur in an immaculate, like-new 16mm print of 1953’s seminal classic The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms at the Newman Center (90 Broad St., across from SUNY Plattsburgh‘s Myers Fine Arts).
About The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms
Widely consecrated by film historians as the holy grail of its genre, Beast is best not only for its Champ lore connection, but for having sired the entire Godzilla franchise whose 60th anniversary this is.
That’s right kiddies, from his low-tech 1954 B/W christening to 2014’s digitally drenched resurrection, Godzilla owes everything to the trailblazing, inimitable Beast.
In this unusually biblical Hollywood year, it’s tempting to see the Mayor’s Cup movie as part of a noteworthy if not exactly holy trinity, with Beast representing one-third in a triad of special effects formats.
It was sculpted and animated by ‘stop-motion’ master Ray Harryhausen, while Godzilla was the handiwork of Eiji Tsuburaya, father of the ‘suitmation’ trend that would last over 50 years. Thirdly, there’s CGI (computer-generated imagery) upon which the brand new Godzilla is entirely dependent.
Purist consensus considers CGI the least special of the three, frequently indulged at the expense of story and characterization instead of balanced, empowering application in their service.
Even at its best, CGI lacks the sheer sense of wonder sparked by exhaustively created miniatures, matte paintings and photographic wizardry typical of old-school geniuses like Harryhausen and Tsuburaya. Indeed, the classically trained technicians of yore were the folks who really did the work, painstaking, time-consuming, more entertaining and memorable than even exemplary CGI.
Beast was a milestone of pure, resourceful movie magic illustrating why Harryhausen’s expertise is king of the three formats, his greatest illusions still awesome in the truest sense and seemingly beyond the potential of manual dexterity.
Moreover, Beast belongs to yet another “trinity” if you will, an organically grown threesome in which none other than Champ plays a key role. But first, some backstory for the uninitiated.
About Lake Champlain’s Champ
405 years after Samuel de Champlain’s expedition sighted a very unusual lake dweller in the first of over 300 documented encounters with Champ to date, this strange and wondrous organism still eludes official classification.
Unconventional wisdom speculates a prehistoric throwback that, per the majority of eyewitness accounts, may be a remarkably hardy offshoot of the Plesiosaur. The famed 1977 “Mansi” photograph taken from the Vermont side, an astonishing video recorded near the mouth of the Ausable River in July 2005, and an equally compelling group sighting at Wilcox Dock in June 2009 highlight reports supporting this theory.
Deductive reasoning posits that via adaptive evolution, a breeding colony of these cryptids developed compatibility with drastic environmental shift, enabling their continued survival outside the realm of the ecologically sensitive dinosaur to which their lineage many believe can be traced.
One thing’s for sure, Champ is not a digital effect.
Neither is the seemingly miraculously mobilized Rhedosaur ‘puppet’ nor our forthcoming celluloid screening of the landmark film in which it stars.
Mayor’s Cup Movie on July 11, 2014
Thus, as promised, a purely organic triple tag-teaming set to make Mayors Cup history on July 11th, complete with intermission and exit music from Arcade Fire’s peerless Neon Bible album. Given that half its songs ‘harmonize’ with corresponding motifs in The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (e.g. “The Well & the Lighthouse”), it’s less a question of why not than simply what else?
Regardless, whether you’re among the devout or are merely a dabbler, hope to see you at Mayor’s Cup 2014’s tribute to dearly departed “Champ Day.”
Visit the Mayor’s Cup Website to learn more about this event and other Mayor’s Cup celebration activities.
- Big plans for Battle of Plattsburgh unveiled (pressrepublican.com)
- The science, ethics, and rubber suit of Godzilla (thedissolve.com)
- Don’t Open That Door! #11: ‘The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms’ (1953) (popmatters.com)
- Why We Still Love Godzilla (news.moviefone.com)
- This year’s Mayor’s Cup shaping up (pressrepublican.com)