Wednesday, June 25, 2014

How Movies, Books and Paintings Helped Sharks Scare The Crap Out of US!

Way Before Jaws And Even Way Before the Movies There Was Watson and the Shark

The Painting below is from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York image archives (recently opened to the public) and is one of many versions of a painting done by British artist Singleton Copley in 1778. The heroic painting, Watson and the Shark, is based on a real incident that happened in Havana in 1749.  Brook Watson, a 14-year old cabin boy fell into the harbour and was attacked by a shark who took off one of this legs.  It took three attempts to rescue him.  He lived  to tell the tale to painter Singleton Copley.

Watson and the Shark
The work was such a huge boost to the artist's career that he gave a smaller version of the painting to Watson.
It was a very stylized painting and there is a suggestion that the staging in the boat was based on the famous (well here in Canada) Death of General Wolfe by West.
In its day the painting caused a real fear of sharks for people living far far away from the Caribbean.  Shark looks extremely fearful but not very real. That is because the artist had never been to Cuba and was thought to never having seen a shark (hence the shark has lips, forward-facing cat's eyes and air blowing out from it's "nostrils".)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Rare Photograph of the Australian Mermaid found on a dive through archives

Kellerman at the age of 19

Rare Blood N Bubbles Picture Found

Flickr, the social media service for photographers, is working with archives around the world to make their digital photo archives available to the world. Recently I took a dive through the New South Wales (AU)  library files and found this picture of 18-year old Annette Kellerman.
Kellerman, an Aussi by birth was a champion swimmer and starred in a number of dive/ mermaid films at the turn of the last century. In 1905 she invented the streamlined one-piece swimming costume for women, a liberating garment, which became her trademark. 
Known as the 'Diving Venus' and the 'Australian Mermaid', Annette Kellerman (1887–1975) was an athlete as well as a vaudeville and movie star, one of the most famous women of her day. She offered a powerful mix of innovative underwater performances, perfect physique, revealing costumes, skilful handling of publicity, and record breaking athletic feats.
Some of her movies that included underwater scenes included: A Daughter of the Gods (1916), Venus of the South Seas (1924) and Neptune's Daughter (1914).
According to the Australian Government's posted history of Kellerman, her best underwater scenes are to be seen in "Venus of the South Seas (1924), her final film, shot in beautiful locations in New Zealand. Venus of the South Seas is remarkable in a number of ways. It contained one full 20-minute reel filmed entirely underwater, and in colour. It was the last film made using the Prizma colour system. This system employed two colours, red and green, rather than the three-colour system introduced in the 1930s. Fortunately this film still exists in its entirety.:
Photograph Courtesy Hilton Cordell Productions and National Museum of Australia.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Remembering Don Knotts - Hollywood's first underwater superhero



It was 60 years ago January 16 that comedian Don Knotts (man in middle of photo) opened his movie, The Incredible Mr. Limpet, at the Weeki Wachee underwater mermaid attraction in Florida. 

The Incredible Mr. Limpet was  a Warner Brothers 1964 American live-action/animated adventure film. It starred Don Knotts, Carole Cooke and  Jack Weston Mr Limpet had the ability to turn into a fish. He enlisted in the US Navy during WW11 and as a fish, sinks a number of Nazi subs! Photo from Flickr Commons / Florida Archives.