Notes: This Disney film includes a depiction of "primitive life"--a segment which features the rise and fall of dinosaurs--set to Igor Stravinski's "Rite of Spring."

Summary: While the orchestra prepares, a narrator explains that Disney and his artists have attempted to create their own version of Stravinski's notion of "primitive life." "They have visualized it as a pageant, as the story of the growth of life on earth. It's a coldly accurate reproduction of what science thinks went on during the first few billion years of this planet's existence." The narrator defamiliarizes us: "So now, imagine yourselves out in space, billions and billions of years ago, looking down on this lonely tormented little planet spinning through an empty sea of nothingness."

The supposedly progressivist evolutionary narrative brings us galactic, volcanic, and oceanic perspectives. The primordial soup reveals protozoa from which finally saurians emerge. We focus then on dinosaurs: ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs in the water, and bat-like pterodons stealing food from each other. In a shadowy and rainy jungle, plant-eating and water-drinking animals wander sluggishly. Inevitably a tyrannosaur looms and the dubious Eden has passed. The creature has a squarish machine-like head and jaws and grasps voraciously at anything it can. It kills its prey at a climactic moment of lightning.

The sun now seems relentless and global warming forces all the dinosaurs to seek desperately for water and to begin a death trudge. Some get caught in mud. All leave tracks or bones. Then an eclipse of the sun seems to bring about a geo-oceanic cataclysm which redistributes the dino remains and refigures the landscape. In the end, the sun disappears beneath the horizon of the planet.

Commentary: One is suspicious about the extinction theories surrounding dinosaurs. The cataclysmic insistences--whomping meteors, et al.--tend to sound simply like more "boss stuff blowing up boss stuff." This film is fairly ambiguous about the issue though, and the scenes of arid gasping misery are not only disturbing, but prophetic. Apocalypse now, cookie.