Thursday, February 2, 2012

Out of the Grind and Into the Wild

I have always loved animals. I live in a household that at one point accommodated two dogs, three cats, two rabbits, bunch of chickens, a myna bird, three pairs of lovebirds, mixed breed of fishes and several hamsters (the number varied if someone was pregnant). It wasn’t nearly a zoo but my siblings and I had a great time playing with our various pets. Of course, this love of animals doesn’t extend to being against eating chicken, beef or pork but I respect the life given to animals. They may not be human beings but they are still creatures of this earth that must be treated with dignity.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes:
Using motion-capture technology

I recently watched the Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which by its title obviously has several apes comprising the cast. It was an enjoyable movie but an interesting thing about it was that there was no single animal used in filming. Ahhh the wonders of modern technology, specifically in filmmaking. The apes looked lifelike (not that I’ve seen them up close nor observed them for long periods of time) and their eyes were very expressive. At those emotionally charged points, I knew computer-generated imagery (CGI) was utilized to get these animals to look excited or devastated at the precise moments. I didn’t assume though that all the apes on screen were just graphics created using a computer. We appreciate and have come to depend on technology and the ease and convenience it gives to our day-to-day living. I never stopped to think how it also benefits our animal brethren who are trained, prodded and forced to go against their nature and act on cue.

In watching movies, I doubt that people spend a lot of time wondering about the welfare of the animals used in filming. In recent years, technology has made use of animals in shooting movies and television shows no longer indispensable. Animals appear on screen with the use of CGI so there is no need to use a real crocodiles as escapees from their zoo cages (Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 1996 film, Eraser) or use authentic penguins to poop in toilets (Jim Carrey’s 2011 film, Mr. Popper’s Penguins). This is a far cry from almost one hundred years ago, where in the 1918 film Tarzan of the Apes, the lead character actually kills a real lion (that was drugged) by stabbing it to death. In the 1925 film Ben Hur, at least one hundred (100) horses were killed in the course of the filming, mostly due to the chariot race scene. The most horrific and pointless use of an animal I’ve read was in the 1939 western Jesse James, where a blindfolded horse was pushed off a cliff to get a shot of a cowboy on horseback jumping into the water. As a result, the horse broke its back and had to be put down. As stated by Joyce Tischler, general counsel for Animal Legal Defense Fund, “I’ve been doing this for 30 years, and I’ve come to believe that from the perspective of wild animals, there is nothing good for them in entertainment.” It is indeed positive news for the animal kingdom that computer graphics and motion-capture technology will soon put animals out to pasture in show business. As wild animals, they ought to be in the wild.

Source: Time Magazine (January 30, 2012 issue), American Humane Association, CBC News

Candice See, Entry #7

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