Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ryan Watches A Motion Picture #83: The Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954)

Still insatiable
hungry for monster movies
I watch Black Lagoon

There are embarrassingly huge gaps in my cinema history, and The Creature From The Black Lagoon has been on my 'to watch' list for years and on my mind for the past few months. Finally saw it, and was surprised by how much I liked it. Great atmosphere, great monster, and an environmental subtext I hadn't been expecting. There's a shot where the leading lady tosses an unwanted cigarette into the creature's lagoon, and the camera moves below the surface to the face of the creature, who watches silently. Thanks to how it's shot the cigarette becomes invasive, and, more importantly, insulting. This is some of the earliest environmental awareness I've seen in a Hollywood film, sci-fi fear of toxic waste and nuclear war aside. There's a scene where poison is dumped into the lagoon to force the creature out of hiding, and the comatose fish that litter the water's surface highlights the disregard for the natural world that the scientists, behaving more like hunters, are exhibiting.

The creature itself looks awesome, and the amount of understanding and sympathy we find in him makes for great monster cinema.

So: A thoroughly satisfying classic.

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