Friday, November 7, 2008

Walt Disney: Lemming Killer

Most of us have heard that lemmings, the small rodent, commit mass suicide; I would imagine most of us believed they do (I did - had no reason not to). But as it turns out, this urban legend is the fault of none other than Walt Disney Studios, who intentionally murdered dozens of lemmings in their Oscar-winning 1958 documentary, White Wilderness.

Apparently, the Disney filmmakers threw the lemmings over a cliffside and filmed them drowning, thus creating/cementing the myth for generations to come! Even more... impressive (?) - certainly more disturbing - the scenes involving the lemmings were created using careful editing, lighting, and "a few dozen lemmings running on snow covered lazy-Susan style turntable." This, according to a 1983 CBC investigation by Brian Vallee.

Of course, some scenes in nature documentaries are "faked" - "helped"-along by various tricks of the trade, such as using trained animals to simulate certain behavior or the like - but literally creating such a myth is basically unheard-of.

© C Harris Lynn, 2008

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