|The album, as it is displayed in our gallery|
Put on display like a corpse in a glass coffin, the album in the centre of our gallery at Aberystwyth University is a relic of a bygone era of moviemaking. It features documentarian photographs, production stills, concept drawings and watercolour storyboards.
|A page from our album|
These images showcase ingenuity, commemorate teamwork, and highlight the efforts of the many artists involved in creating make-believe. They are shown alongside each other in the album to demonstrate how ideas were realised.
|Sculpture by Richard Boalch|
|The exhibition also features 1940s drawings
from Disney and Fleischer Studios
Was the right to consume equal to the pursuit of happiness for which GI Joes and Jills had risked their lives? Mighty Joe Young’s climactic orphanage fire suggests otherwise.
|The album contains storyboard
watercolour paintings by Willis O’Brien
‘Mr. Joe Young,’ as the giant yet gentle gorilla is announced in the credits, stands apart from the Atomic Age monsters of the Cold War era in whose destruction we are encouraged to relish. The menace in Mighty Joe Young is not its title character. Mighty Joe poses no threat to the Average Joe. The enduring, transcontinental friendship of Jill and Joe is proposed as an alternative to the fears and desires that tear us apart.
Perhaps, this is why Mighty Joe Young was not a commercial success. By the time of the film’s release, red-menaced consumers had been conditioned to accept as the new normal what the film fantastically surmounts. The contemporary press called Mighty Joe Young ‘incredible corn.’
A banana peel of discarded values, a throwback like Mighty Joe Young – and an album devoted to its making – can make us mindful of lost chances, and of the biases and restraints operative to this day.