CAMDEN By Bradly Gill
Nostalgia is a funny thing. The idea that things were better in the past and nothing is as good now seems to be a pretty common theme.
I recently purchased Disney+, largely because of the collection of animation from the early ’90s that filled my Saturday mornings and afters school afternoons. I’ve started up ‘Ducktales’ around 10 times alone just to listen to the theme song. I was also presently surprised to see ‘The Adventures of the Gummy Bears’ was available to stream: admittedly it’s more or less a Smurfs ripoff with a far better opening.
The other night, my wife and I watched “Return to Oz’, which is much creepier than I remember, but full of practical effects that still hold up. The same movie made 15 years ago would have been full of dated CGI and probably terrible. Look at the Mummy movies with Brendan Frasier. The CGI looks like a bad car insurance commercial. It’s also a pretty good adaptation of Frank L. Baum’s novels that continue after ‘The Wizard of Oz.’
It was a relief, because sometimes you view a cherished relic from childhood and it’s terrible. There’s a certain validation in something that can stand on its own, without the benefits of rose-colored glasses.
The viewing led me to revisit another childhood favorite Ralph Bashki’s Lord of the Rings. I vividly remembered sitting down with my brother and his friends and watching the story of Frodo carry the Ring of Doom and fight orcs along the way. As a short child with curly hair, they even nicknamed me “Bilbo.” I was thrilled to relive those memories.
But about 10 minutes into the movie, and with no sign of Glen Yarbrough’s terrible warbling, I came to a realization….this wasn’t the cartoon I watched as a child. I saw a version directed by Rankin and Bass. I had to google to make sure there were two Lord of the Rings cartoons.
My beloved childhood version was — how do I say this — not nearly as good as what I watched last Thursday. For one, the Bashki version is more mature and the rotoscoped animation is much better than the fat faced hobbits in the Bass version.
It also is more thematically true to Tolkien’s novels. The Rankin and Bass version still seems like a story for children. But Bashki directed ‘Fritz the Cat’ and they directed ‘Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer’ and if you’ve seen both of those that should let you know what you need to about them.
I guess my point is, nostalgia has it’s place, but sometime you have to accept what is actually better regardless of the memories attached to it.