Saturday, September 26, 2009

Story of the week: HAS THE LION FINALLY LOST HIS ROAR?


You hear that feeble whimper? That’s the sound of the once proud Leo the Lion, and erstwhile mascot of MGM, wondering if he will ever roar again…


This week lawyers made a lot of phonecalls, a lot of threats and a lot of money while many MGM shareholders, like many in our current global reality, wondered where the hell all their money went… MGM, one of the true great, legendary studios of Hollywood is hanging on by its fingernails as the bankruptcy behemoth opens its greedy maw to swallow it whole. I won’t go into all the nasty details and Wall Street suit-speak but basically they need $20 million for short-term overhead and $150 million to see them through to the end of the year.


And you know what? This makes me sad. Sad that I may not get to see Leo roar ever again. Sad that a Golden Age studio of Hollywood lore is dying. Sad that I’m getting to that age where my sense of nostalgia for things is increasing…


As a kid I sat in awe of The Wizard of Oz, scratched my head at why my mum loved Gone With the Wind so much (yeah, yeah, now that I’m older I understand) and was thoroughly entertained by the journey films like Clash of the Titans, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Logan’s Run, Poltergeist, Pink Floyd’s The Wall and even Willow all took me on. And all of these journey’s began with the roar of Leo the Lion. That golden mane and those snarling teeth, like the drum roll and arcing searchlights of 20th Century Fox (which I’ll always associate with Star Wars), were a promise of things to come and of new worlds to explore.


It’s funny how we hang on to certain images and sounds. These things are meaningless in the grand scale of things. Some would argue they are merely the triumph of good marketing and branding, sizzling an indelible stamp upon our gullible brains. And yet, once they’ve earned their place in the collective pop-culture sub-conscious they bring with them a familiarity.


Growing up I didn’t go to the movies every week like some did but when I did, it was an event and a big family outing. Many of the movies I saw then were on TV and movies like Ben Hur, The Dirty Dozen, Where Eagles Dare, Doctor Zhivago and the many MGM musicals were on so often over the holidays that they became as synonymous with “family time” as Christmas Dinner. And Leo was there to call us to arms with a threatening roar every time…


Whatever happens to MGM in the coming months and wherever James Bond, The Hobbit and the Darren Aronofsky re-imagining of Robocop end up, I may just have to accept that Leo’s roar will not signal there inevitable arrival. Thanks for the memories Leo, may you hunt and feast on the corpses of the lawyers fighting over your library of movies for many years.