Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend

Reading Time: 8 mins

Background of "Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend"

"Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend" is a movie that uses the aura of the unknown and our collective fascination with the extinct kings of the earth, the dinosaurs, to spin an engaging tale. It isn't like other dinosaur movies you might know of, say, the "Jurassic Park" series. Instead of using dinosaurs as massive, terror-inducing creatures, the movie shows them as beings we can connect with on an emotional level. And that makes the film stand apart.

The movie plays with the Mokele-Mbembe myth that has intrigued people for ages. The Mokele-Mbembe is believed to be a dinosaur-like creature living in the deep and dense jungles of the Congo River Basin. And many explorers have ventured into the green abyss in search of it. "Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend" uses this myth cleverly, adding a touch of credibility to its premise.

In the heart of the film's story are two American paleontologists, Susan and George, played by Sean Young and William Katt. They are scientific explorers with a dash of daring courage. Their mission is to safeguard a young dinosaur, referred to as "Baby," from the villainous Dr. Eric Kiviat and his corrupt government minions.



Plot Synopsis of the Movie

Our story centers on the adventure-seeking couple, George and Susan, both paleontologists with an insatiable curiosity for the unknown. Their routine expedition takes a turn for the extraordinary when they come across a footprint that appears to belong to a creature that should not exist, a dinosaur. It's as if they've stumbled upon a secret world hidden within our own, where the past is very much alive.

The footprint leads them to an even more astonishing discovery - an entire family of dinosaurs in the wild. Among these majestic creatures, one stands out, an adorable young one they affectionately name "Baby". This creature becomes the heart of our tale, encapsulating innocence and wonder amidst a story of discovery and danger.

The awe-inspiring revelation does not bode well for everyone. Enter the antagonist, Dr. Eric Kiviat, a driven man blinded by ambition and the prospect of fame. He wants to capture these creatures, irrespective of the cost to their peaceful existence. Thus begins a classic tale of good versus evil, as George and Susan strive to protect Baby and its family from Kiviat's greedy grasp.

The film takes us on a thrilling ride of suspense and adventure, peppered with touching moments of connection between Baby and its human protectors. The stakes become real when George and Susan risk their careers, their reputations, and even their lives to ensure the dinosaurs' safety. Their journey is a rollercoaster of challenges, climaxing in a tense face-off with Kiviat.

"Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend" is more than just a pursuit of discovery. It presents a nuanced depiction of the struggle between scientific curiosity and the responsibility to respect nature. In essence, the film encourages us to ponder the ramifications of our actions and their potential impacts on our environment. The narrative concludes on a hopeful note, leaving audiences to contemplate the captivating story they have witnessed. 



Cast and Producers

Stepping into the shoes of the lead characters, George and Susan, are actors William Katt and Sean Young. They bring a compelling blend of courage and compassion to their roles, breathing life into these two passionate paleontologists. Katt, known for his roles in "The Greatest American Hero" and "Carrie," delivers a commendable performance as George. Meanwhile, Young, a familiar face from hits like "Blade Runner" and "Dune," brings depth and strength to her character, Susan.

Adding a dash of antagonism is Patrick McGoohan as the formidable Dr. Eric Kiviat. McGoohan, widely recognized for his role in the classic series "The Prisoner," embodies Kiviat's greed and ambition, making him a character viewers love to hate. The cast also includes Julian Fellowes, playing Nigel Jenkins, and Hugh Quarshie as Kenge Obe. 

On the production side, "Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend" was a collaborative effort helmed by Touchstone Pictures and Silver Screen Partners II. The man guiding the ship was director B.W.L. Norton, known for his work on films like "More American Graffiti." The screenplay was penned by Clifford Green and Ellen Green, who did a fantastic job of bringing this prehistoric adventure to life on the big screen.

Behind the camera, cinematographer John Alcott, renowned for his work with Stanley Kubrick on "The Shining" and "A Clockwork Orange," contributed his keen eye for detail, capturing the film's stunning visuals and thrilling action sequences.

The original music, a significant component of the movie's immersive atmosphere, was composed by Jerry Goldsmith, a legend in film scoring, whose other works include "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" and "Planet of the Apes."



Criticisms

One of the significant criticisms revolved around the film's special effects. In an era that saw the creation of iconic creatures in movies like "Star Wars" and "E.T.," the animatronic dinosaurs in "Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend" were said to lack the realism and sophistication expected. Some viewers felt the dinosaurs seemed artificial, which hindered the suspension of disbelief crucial for a film featuring prehistoric creatures in a modern setting.

Secondly, the film's narrative structure faced criticism. Although the storyline offered potential, critics argued that it struggled with pace and coherence. Some parts of the plot were considered underdeveloped, while other sections seemed unnecessarily drawn out. This inconsistent pacing led to a somewhat disjointed viewing experience for some audience members.

Furthermore, the film's character development was met with mixed reviews. The protagonists, George and Susan, while likable, were criticized for being somewhat one-dimensional. Critics suggested that their characters lacked the depth and complexity that could have made the audience more invested in their journey.

The portrayal of African characters and settings also came under scrutiny. Some critics argued that the film relied on stereotypical depictions of Africa and its inhabitants. The authenticity of the African environment and its people seemed glossed over in favor of focusing on the Western characters and the dinosaurs.

Lastly, despite Jerry Goldsmith's significant contribution to the film's score, some critics felt the music was often ill-suited to the scene at hand, leading to a discordant blend of visual and auditory experiences.



Analyzing the Protagonists and Antagonists

George and Susan, played by William Katt and Sean Young, respectively, are the film's main protagonists. George, an anthropologist, and Susan, a paleontologist, portray an idealistic, passionate couple driven by their shared dream of discovering something monumental. While their characters have been criticized for lack of depth, their chemistry and commitment to their mission to protect the dinosaur family provide the film's emotional core. They're the archetypal adventure movie couple - brave, committed, and always willing to help.

The main antagonist, Kiviat, played by Patrick McGoohan, is a corporate-funded scientist who stands in direct contrast to George and Susan. Kiviat is unapologetically ambitious, viewing the discovery of the dinosaur family as a stepping stone to greater acclaim and financial gain. While some may view him as a one-dimensional villain, his character's ruthless nature effectively heightens the tension in the film and contrasts with our protagonists' more altruistic motives.

Among the supporting characters, the local African tribe leader, Cephu, leaves a significant impression. He provides a local perspective and acts as a bridge between the protagonists and the unfamiliar African setting. However, critics argue that his character could have been developed further, allowing for a more nuanced and authentic representation of the local culture.

Of course, we can't forget the real stars of the show – the dinosaur family. The dinosaur parents, towering and awe-inspiring, and their offspring, Baby, manage to evoke a sense of wonder, fear, and affection from audiences. Despite the limitations in the special effects, these creatures successfully embody the mythical allure of the lost world living in our present.



Dinosaurs in Cinema

When we think of dinosaurs in cinema, films like "Jurassic Park" or "The Land Before Time" might spring to mind. However, "Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend" brought these ancient creatures to the screen in its own unique way, years before CGI took over the industry. It offered a blend of adventure, suspense, and heartfelt storytelling that endeared the audience to the magnificent creatures. The titular "Baby," a brontosaurus, wasn't just a spectacle to admire; it was a character to empathize with. The portrayal of Baby and its family as sentient, emotional beings provided a unique twist on the usual "monster" depiction of dinosaurs in cinema.


The Cinematography of the Film

The cinematography of "Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend" is a mix of the vibrant and the mundane. The African landscapes, sprawling and beautiful, serve as a backdrop that captures the sense of wonder and adventure that the film seeks to portray. Wide-angle shots of the jungle, the river, and the open savannah give the movie a distinct visual style. The filmmakers also make good use of close-ups, particularly in scenes involving the dinosaur family, creating a sense of intimacy and empathy. While the film might not be a paragon of groundbreaking cinematography, it effectively utilizes its visual elements to create a compelling cinematic experience.



Behind the Scenes

Creating "Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend" was no small feat. The film's production was marked by numerous challenges, from designing and animating the dinosaur creatures to shooting in remote and challenging locations. The team relied on puppetry and animatronics to bring the dinosaur family to life - a remarkable achievement for the time. While some may critique the film for its dated special effects, it is crucial to remember that this was a pre-CGI era. The filmmakers deserve recognition for their pioneering spirit and the lengths they went to make their vision come to life.



Sources:

Ansen, D. (1985). "Dinosaurs: Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend". Newsweek. March 4, 1985.
Canby, V. (1985). "Screen: Baby, Secret of The Lost Legend". The New York Times. March 22, 1985.
Gritten, D. (1985). "Good Idea, Bad Script in 'Baby'". Los Angeles Times. March 25, 1985.
Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend (1985). [DVD] Directed by B. Norton. Burbank, CA: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.
Maslin, J. (1985). "Film: 'Baby, Secret of the Lost Legend'". The New York Times. March 23, 1985.
Maltin, L. (2013). Leonard Maltin's 2014 Movie Guide. New York, NY: Penguin Press.

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