Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Animation Theatre 2: Walt Disney (1901- 1966)

Walt Disney
Walt Disney was a famous American film producer, producer, director, voice actor and animator. Famous for his ways of entertainment during the 20th century, with the help of his brother the two co-founded Walt Disney Productions, now known as The Walt Disney Company.

Disney born in December 5, 1901 in Chicago, USA Walter Disney was raised on a farm in Marceline, Missouri. Disney became interested in drawing at an early age, selling sketches at the age of seven to neighbours. Disney then went to study art and photography at McKinley High School in Chicago in 1890. Walt Disney later went to work for the military services but was rejected due to underage. However he managed to work for the Red Cross which when driving his ambulance it was covered in Disney cartoons instead of camouflage patterns. Later Disney started a small animation studio in 1922 where he and his partner made animated shorts advertising films to local cinemas. Later they did a series of cartoon sketches called Laugh- O- Grams and Alice in Cartoonland, which is a seven minute film comprising live action and animation together. Moving to Hollywood, Disney developed more on his animated cartoons and sketches and created Mickey Mouse in 1928, which also saw Disney creating his first synchronized sound animation, Steamboat Willie (1928).  By the 1930’s Disney began to develop more animated shorts to animated feature length films, notably like Flowers and trees (1932) and Silly Symphonies.
One of Disney’s works, Fantasia 2000 (1999) is a fantasy musical film which orchestrated music is played along with the film to add dynamics and emphasis. Originally made by Walt in the 1940’s, the 2000 version was revived with added shorts by his nephew, Roy. E Disney. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice features Mickey Mouse as an aspiring magician who attempts to recreate the tricks that his master does only to find that he is unable to control them. Though no dialogue is heard in the animation, however music by Paul Dukas is played in the background to exaggerate key points and actions of the film.
The Sorcerer's Apprentice
A segment from the film Pines of Rome involves a family of whales where the calf who loves jumping ends up getting lost after flying through the skies during the northern lights or supernova event. However this was not as successful as the others due to its strange story telling but was praised for its art beauty in IMAX theatres. Here Paul Fischer author for his review on Fantasia 2000 on Crankycritics states that, “The Pines of Rome sequence may be the most beautiful minutes of animation art ever seen on a big screen, and the IMAX projection at which you'll see Fantasia 2000 for the first six months of its run, only enhances the effect.”(Fischer, 2011)

Pines of Rome
Firebird Suite was another segment from the animation. Using only music to help add atmosphere into the story which depicts a Spring sprite befriending an elk after a long winter. The Sprite attempts to restore life to a forest, creating green wherever she goes until the reaches a volcano. This however accidently awakes the Firebird spirit of the volcano and in anger destroys the forest. The sprite is restored to life after being found by the elk and goes forth to restore the forest life once again. Again this segment was praised for its story telling and the art developed, as reviewer, Brian Sibley for BFI Sight and Sound states that, “The spirit of the forest soars across a snowy landscape, bringing new life in the form of a spreading carpet of flowers and greenery, only to confront the explosive force of the volcanic Firebird in a sequence of exquisite beauty and raw natural violence, images of the kind which abounded in the first Fantasia” (Sibley, 1999)
Firebird Suite
Notably Night on Bald Mountain is one of Fantasia’s famous segments. It tells the tale of how every night on Bald Mountain the midnight devil, Chernabog awakens from the tip of the mountain and begins to spread darkness over the nearest town. As he stretches his wings, ghouls, ghosts and other evil spirits arise from the shadows. The evil spirits are seen dancing and flying around the skies until they get driven back by the sound of an Angelus bell, signaling that the sun is about to rise at dawn. Though the piece was successful, it made controversy due to the segment’s darkness which Chernabog could be depicted as the Devil and the angelus bell and the light could be symbolized as Christianity with the music of Ave Maria is played in the background.  Paula Stiles, reviewer of Medieval History explains that, Yet, the initial image of the dead streaming out of their graves in a parody of Judgment Day, the succubi dancing on the Devil's fingers, even the name of the Devil (Chernabog), are medieval concepts in origin, as is the final image at dawn of light-bearing pilgrims chasing away the demons to the amazing voice of Franz Schubert's "Ave Maria" (Hail Mary)” (Stiles, 2006).

Chernabog in Night on Bald Mountain

List of Illustrations:
JOI(2010) Daily Quote: Walt Disney's Four C's(online):
David (2010) David's review of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" (online):
Disney, W (1940) Pines of Rome (online):
Seiley, J (2000) Fantasia 2000: The Fantasia Anthology DVD Review (online): - (accessed on 28/03/2012)
 reverse shot (unknown) A Few Great Pumpkinks IV (2009) (online):
Fischer, P (2011) Fantasia 2000 (online):
Sibley, B (1999) Fantasia 2000 (online):
Stiles, P (2006) Film Review: Fantasia (online):

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