Saturday, June 13, 2015

Cry For Gwangi

Has any movie monster died in greater agony than Gwangi, going up in flames in an ornate Mexican cathedral? This morning I watched the end of THE VALLEY OF GWANGI in HD on Warner Archive and the entire sequence of Gwangi's battle with the performing elephant, his escape from the circus arena, and his invasion of the cathedral (a location that pushes so many chaotic emotional buttons, as this atavistic yet magnificent beast intrudes upon a structure of such ornate civilized artisanship) is masterful, although Gwangi's color changes about three or four times as it unreels through a series of different process shots. (I am thinking now that "Gwangi blue" - an elusive shade between sapphire blue and midnight purple - just might be, with emerald green, my favorite color.) In a fairly short space of time, we see Gwangi kill a poor circus elephant and chew a screaming man to death, but when he cries out in those flames and shrieks so sustainedly, our hearts go out to him. We cannot help but share his confused misery at being laid low by a world he never made. I suspect the effect is multiplied by taking place in a house of God that has no sanctuary to offer one of his kind - he, in some ways, the noblest (or at least the purest) of God's creatures.