Apocalypse Pooh (1987)

31 01 2010

Recently I have become increasingly interested in the mash-up (mainly because I am making my own), in both music and video.  While many of them are purely meant for entertainment (Lady Gaga vs. Christopher Walken), there is a unique ability of the mash-up to create powerful associations simply by overlapping and juxtaposing exceedingly disparate works.  For example, Apocalypse Pooh:

(I was originally going to post this version, which is much better quality.  But, I realized it is a remake, edited on newer technology.  The one above is the original.  Much of the original’s quality comes from its poor quality, attributed to the technology he had to use to create it.)

There is something incredibly surreal and disturbing about the combination of Winnie-the-Pooh with Apocalypse Now.  Something that is present in the original images/sounds, but that could only be brought out by the mash-up.  It is incredibly unnerving watching Pooh dancing to the sounds of Apocalypse Now, and something so perfect about Piglet’s performance of the monologue.

The short was made in 1987 by Todd Graham, using VHS tapes and linear digital editing technology (VHS decks).  It was illegal — since he used copyright material — and it was one of the new-avant-garde films of the late-80s/early-90s.  Breaking from what had become traditional experimental film (Stan Brakhage, among other “almost-dead white men”), this short helped fuel the interest in DIY remixing and mash-ups.  It was never officially released, only being shown underground, and until the Internet happened, it had to be shared through bootlegged VHS tapes.

I could go on and on, but there is already another essay out there which is much more articulate and researched than I.  So I will give you some quotes, and direct you here: “The Horror, Piglet, The Horror” by Scott MacKenzie.

In its eight minutes, Apocalypse Pooh successfully condenses the entire, allegorical, mythological and grandiose narrative of Coppola’s film and provides a critical meta-commentary on both Apocalypse Now and the Winnie the Pooh featurettes. … Not only is this surrealist vision an entirely appropriate encapsulation of Apocalypse Now, it is also one of the best Pooh films ever made, if not the best, as the détourned characters reveal not only the Ur-text to Coppola’s film, but also of their own animated images. Furthermore, Apocalypse Pooh invites one to revisit the Pooh films, which most viewers probably haven’t considered since childhood (after all, they are not a staple of ‘Introduction to Film’ courses), and read them against the grain, through the glass of colonialism, Coppola and Conrad. This project can lead to strange, yet interesting, results. (MacKenzie) Read More…

Which is exactly why I am attracted to the mash-up.

RATING: 10/10

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