'Rango' as watery homage to 'Chinatown'

rango-0591.jpgFor a guy whose life has been devoted to water and Santa Monica Bay, Heal the Bay president Mark Gold has an intriguing secret: he actually studied desert lizards in school at UCLA. He blogs today that his desert background, as well as his Angeleno roots and his mastery of water politics, prepared him to enjoy the new animated film "Rango." The movie is set in the fictional town of Dirt. There's a character, a desert tortoise named Mayor, who dreams of imported water turning Dirt into a green paradise. Gold posts:

The film is definitely in homage to the classic Polanski film “Chinatown,” with the Ned Beatty-voiced Mayor character nearly identical to John Huston’s portrayal of businessman Noah Cross.

“Chinatown” is based loosely on the story of DWP engineer William Mulholland and the Chandlers’ water and power grab of the early 1900s to make a fortune in L.A. real estate. In real life, Mulholland said, “There it is, take it,” when he turned on the spigot to provide Owens Valley water for L.A.

Noah Cross said: “Either you bring the water to L.A., or you bring L.A. to the water.” And in “Rango,” the tortoise notes: “Control the water, and you control everything.” Sounds like cinema has California water politics pegged.

In “Rango,” there weren’t any “She’s my mother, she’s my daughter” moments with the female lead-desert iguana. (It is a PG movie after all.) But the parallels to the cutthroat nature of water management in the Southwest are prevalent.

I had no interest before in seeing the film, but now I probably will.


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