Saturday, November 08, 2008

Lemmings do not commit mass suicide. . .unless they are nudged along by Walt Disney

The notion that Lemmings commit mass suicide became a full-blown urban legend in 1958, following a Disney documentary “White Wilderness,” that contains a lot of faked footage.

Instead of filming an actual migration, the movie team transported a few dozen lemmings to a riverbank in Alberta, Canada (not far from Vancouver, where I am writing this), which is not even coastal, and therefore not even part of the lemmings' range.

The Disney filmmakers then tossed the rodents off a cliff into the river. In the documentary, the river becomes "the sea." The cameras rolled as the lemmings drowned, and thus was born the longstanding urban legend. See a YouTube clip from the movie here:

Despite faking the documentary, Disney won the Oscar that year for Best Documentary. Do they have to give it back?


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