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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

August 19, 2009 at 3:52 PM

No snakes (or lobsters) were harmed in the making of this film

This is, I think, one of those weeks. Monday I went to the DMV to renew my drivers’ license and had a picture taken that I can only describe as Cubist. Tuesday I went to the “Post Grad” screening, realized I’d forgotten my notebook, and ended up scribbling notes on a teeny-tiny two-by-three-inch memo pad I found at the bottom of my purse, which was neither dignified nor effective. And today, I can’t get out of my head an image that arrived there courtesy of the nice people at the American Humane Film and Television Unit, who this week sent me a lovely pamphlet about their services. The AHFTU are the ones responsible for that “No Animals Were Harmed” disclaimer that we often see in film credits, and they are also responsible for this helpful suggestion, taken directly from their pamphlet:

“If you’re gonna milk a snake on-screen, have an experienced snake handler do it.”

Um. Right. Speaking as someone never able to watch “Snakes on a Plane,” this is not reassuring. But I learned some other interesting facts from the brochure about animals in the movies:
— There were close to 100 different species of animals on the set of “Evan Almighty,” the most ever on one film set.
— “Snakes on a Plane” had 432 snakes on the set. (Excuse me while I go lie down now.)
— The first movie to receive the “No Animals Were Harmed” disclaimer was “The Doberman Gang” in 1972.
— Touching a salamander is not a good idea. They don’t say why. I can only imagine.

(This lobster, for the record, had a very nice day on the set of “Julie & Julia,” and was returned to his natural habitat shortly thereafter. Photo: Jonathan Wenk, courtesy of Columbia Pictures)

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