Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Artifacts of our Childhood: The Pagemaster

If there's any way to get kids interested in classic books, it's to tell them that they have cool stories in a cartoon. I don't mean that a cartoon should say "books r kewl" as a bland, general statement- because that never works- I mean they should say that they have something in them that makes them worth opening up. In other words, tell kids what's actually in them.
In other other words, tell them why they should read them.

Kids don't like direct commands, no matter how much you have your backward-cap-wearing cartoon character spouts words like "awesome" and "wicked". They need to be tricked into doing something.
"Watch SWAT Kats on Cartoon Network- it has explosions."
"Really? Awesome!"

Of course, most things we trick kids into believing- dreams come true, good always wins, work together- don't usually fully register until many, many years later, when they start actually believing things. From my experience, this would be about when they're nineteen years old. If they're lucky. Sometimes they're told to NOT believe things at around thirteen, and that can stick if that message is given to them persistently.

For me, The Pagemaster only gave me an inkling of the concept that classic English literature is cool. (Pirates! Ghosts! Dragons!) So around thirteen, I read relatively easy books like Treasure Island, Journey to the Center of the Earth, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. But only recently have I delved deeper on my own accord, which is more due to my mom's homeschooling- where I familiarized myself with Homer and Dante- than the movie alone.
The whole "curl up with a good book" attitude, where books are "magical" and "awesome" because they "take you on a journey of imagination", is still slightly confusing to me, and only recently have I come to sort of understand it. I don't like such flowery language, but I get that it's inspiring and a good way to spend free time.

The Pagemaster is one of the many second-or-third-tier (mostly) animated features that I suspect many nostalgic children of the '90s remember fondly. The film is also ripe with voice actors that were all over the era, but of course I didn't recognize them at the time- except Whoopi Goldberg for some reason. I don't know why.
Christopher Lloyd was already introduced to me through Roger Rabbit. I recall seeing Star Trek: The New Generation with Patrick Stewart when I was a kid, but he's a little hard to recognize with a pirate voice. Of course, Jim Cummings and Frank Welker- whose voices are impossible to avoid hearing- are there also. I knew who Spock was, but Leonard Nimoy was not somebody I would've been familiar with.

Oddly enough, the only other book I've read that features in this film besides Treasure Island is Alice in Wonderland (which is only briefly referred to). I don't think A Christmas Carol counts.
I also have serious doubts that The Curious Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde would really be well understood by anybody in their childhood or even teen years.

No comments:

Post a Comment