Life After Death Question #17 - The Great Pumpkin

by Damien Echols

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Life After Death Question #17 - The Great Pumpkin

Unread postby Liz » Thu Dec 13, 2012 3:24 am

Pg. 340: The thing I like about the show isn’t the characters—it’s the background. The colors are so amazing it almost takes my breath away.

[youtube]TRGkEDADmRU[/youtube]

Every time I watch The Great Pumpkin I feel like I’m going to have a seizure during the scenes where Snoopy is in a dogfight. Just look at the background in those scenes. It really is too much to take. I can barely keep from holding my head in my hands and involuntarily groaning like I have a mouthful of the best chocolate cake ever made. I look at them and can literally smell the crisp autumn air—even in this cell. No horror movie in the world makes me feel the magick of Halloween as strongly as The Great Pumpkin.


[youtube]8xN-bgcjp0g[/youtube]

All of us have watched The Great Pumpkin as kids (and as adults).

Did you notice the background then?

After watching these videos now, what do you think of the background?

Why do you think Damien noticed the background?

You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Re: Life After Death Question #17 - The Great Pumpkin

Unread postby Fern » Thu Dec 13, 2012 1:40 pm

Well I can't comment on what I thought of it as a child as I'd never heard of it before.

Yes, the background is very vivid and I think that's most noticeable in the first clip, as the colours there are especially vibrant. I liked the colours in the skies in that part and some of the outdoor background scenes in both parts look like they could be works of art, for example in the one bit where Snoopy is shown from a distance, with himself and the buildings silhouetted again a dark sky.

I think Damien noticed the background as it couldn't really be more more of a sharp contrast to his own surroundings. It will be interesting to read the opinions of those who saw this programme as a child and whether they noticed the vibrant colours without them being pointed out; I'd guess not. I'd imagine that it would be much more noticeable for Damien as he was living in a dreary, colour-deprived world. Most kids are probably exposed to this kind of vibrancy all the time and therefore wouldn't notice it as it wouldn't stand out to them. I can imagine it'd look almost psychedelic to someone who spends each day in a grey cell, never seeing colours of anywhere near that intensity. I imagine that for Damien, it would be like sensory deprivation and then overload.

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Re: Life After Death Question #17 - The Great Pumpkin

Unread postby Liz » Thu Dec 13, 2012 3:45 pm

Hi Fern,

Thanks for starting us off.

I loved Peanuts as a kid and as a young adult. And The Great Pumpkin was my favorite. I can't remember why I liked it best. Maybe I didn't even know why. I do like Halloween a lot. So maybe that's it.

I can tell you right now that I never noticed the background - at least not consciously. And I'm an artist.

What stands out for me was the music and how clever it was, along with the characters.

I'll speak later of my opinion now, after watching these You Tube videos.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Re: Life After Death Question #17 - The Great Pumpkin

Unread postby nebraska » Thu Dec 13, 2012 6:34 pm

I first viewed this show as an adult and no, I never really noticed the back ground particularly. Like Liz I dabble in "art" (mine is mostly rubberstamp/scrapbook work although I do photography and a bit of painting as well). So in a way it is surprising to me that I have not noticed it, I would be very conscious of backgrounds if I had a camera in my hands.

I think Fern's explanation is a good one for explaining why Damien noticed the colors. There may be some other reason, something about certain parts of the brain being more sensitive in some people or something complicated and scientific like that, but I think Fern's explanation makes sense.

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Re: Life After Death Question #17 - The Great Pumpkin

Unread postby SnoopyDances » Fri Dec 14, 2012 2:16 am

How could anyone look at the background when Snoopy is on the screen? :biggrin:

I always loved this and the Charlie Brown Christmas special, too. :ok:

Yes the colors were very vibrant. They had to be in 1966, as the television resolution wasn't as high def as it is now. So when it originally appeared on television, it didn't come across this vibrant, but with the advances in technology, you can finally see how bright and vivid those colors are. And they've probably been touched up over the years for preservation.

I noticed the vibrant colors with Disney cartoons, too...it's great to see those on a big screen in a movie theater...(not the computer-generated animation today, but the original, hand-drawn/painted animations). Those colors are absolutely breathtaking!

I agree with Fern's assessment for Damien. He probably watched that same cartoon as a kid and never noticed nearly as much detail as he did when he was in prison.

For Damien, when he was free, he saw things all the time but never noticed or paid attention to the details. However, he became much more aware of those things in prison when all he saw was dark, dingy and gray surroundings. Sort of like a blind person saying that their other senses become so much more aware after they've lost their sight. Damien lost his "sight of freedom" and became much more aware and appreciative of the little things, like background colors in a cartoon. Or a bird on the window. Or the snow falling. Or a cupcake.

Simple things that all of us take for granted, until we don't have it or experience it anymore.

A good example would be all the noises our homes make...clock ticking, furnace kicking in, the creaking and cracking...you get used to it all and ignore it. However, when you go on vacation, you find you can't sleep because it's "too quiet". Or worse, the noises are different. :fear:

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Re: Life After Death Question #17 - The Great Pumpkin

Unread postby Liz » Fri Dec 14, 2012 2:36 am

My response to watching The Great Pumpkin now, after all these years (and after having been clued in by Damien) is WOW! Those backgrounds are amazing. Totally intense skies and brightly colored rooms. The skies I love the most. I was wondering how I could have missed them in my youth. But I think SnoopyDances hit the nail on the head......TV has improved over the years.

Also, I forgot that my parents didn't get a color TV until I had gone to college. So that explains why I missed it. Am I dating myself here? A little. Plus my parents were always the last ones to get the latest electronic device. Color TV had been available 8 years before I went to college.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Re: Life After Death Question #17 - The Great Pumpkin

Unread postby nebraska » Fri Dec 14, 2012 11:27 am

Liz wrote:My response to watching The Great Pumpkin now, after all these years (and after having been clued in by Damien) is WOW! Those backgrounds are amazing. Totally intense skies and brightly colored rooms. The skies I love the most. I was wondering how I could have missed them in my youth. But I think SnoopyDances hit the nail on the head......TV has improved over the years.

Also, I forgot that my parents didn't get a color TV until I had gone to college. So that explains why I missed it. Am I dating myself here? A little. Plus my parents were always the last ones to get the latest electronic device. Color TV had been available 8 years before I went to college.

I remember going to the neighbor's house to watch television because we didn't have one! ;) And I am sure we had black and white for a long, long time. I don't even remember when there was a color TV in the house, I may have been gone from home as well, Liz. And to this date I probably have less spectacular TV viewing than what most people take for granted. A lot of the vividness may depend on the screen/reception you have available even today.

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Re: Life After Death Question #17 - The Great Pumpkin

Unread postby fireflydances » Sat Dec 15, 2012 12:26 am

I, too, was surprised by the intensity of the backgrounds. And we didn't have color TV either, not until the 1980s for pete's sake!

I decided to go and check out the Charlie Brown Christmas backgrounds and, although more subdued, there is still that water color feel. I think it gives what would be a rather ordinary cartoon piece a visual depth. It's interesting that it is mostly the background that is worked, and I wonder if this strategy was deliberately chosen as a low-cost, easy to achieve alternative? I did find out that the animation was directed by Bill Melendez who was the only person that Charles Schulz trusted to do his TV specials.

Here's a link to Melendez Studios, now run by the son, the father having passed away a number of years ago.

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Re: Life After Death Question #17 - The Great Pumpkin

Unread postby Liz » Sat Dec 15, 2012 4:47 pm

Thanks for that little morsel, Firefly.

I find it interesting now, realizing that at least half of the viewers were watching in black and white when the Charlie Brown specials first aired in 1965 and 1966, that these 2 guys even thought about doing such intense backgrounds. But I guess they wanted to DO IT RIGHT for themselves and for those few who had color TV at the time.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.


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