Everybody seems to know Disney as the maker of animated films which end in happily ever after. The exhibition at ACMI that I attended on the weekend offered fascinating insight into the concept artwork , creative process and the final creation of well known and much loved Disney animated characters that was categorised into eight separate areas. It is apparent even the animation industry is going through a significant shift from 2D to 3D as the digital world becomes all pervasive as it ranged from Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme based animation to the new Tangled movie that is loosely based on the tale of Rapunzel.
1. The Introduction
This area was devoted to explaining who Walt Disney was and illuminating us as to what his vision was when he decided to use old folk tales, legends, mythology and European fairy tales as inspiration for his animated artwork. Even though he lacked any formal education , visits to the public library where he read books on animation turned out to be immensely useful as they imparted the knowledge he desired. As he expressed, ” all our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”
This is where the audience is introduced to Mickey Mouse who happens to be an original character created by Disney to rival Felix the Cat , created by Pat Sullivan, and who arrived ahead of the full length fairy tale features. Within the exhibition area, we are treated to a film clip about Mickey that uses the concept of Jack and the Beanstalk. This was during the time he created features like The Three Little Pigs, The Ugly Duckling and The Country Cousin.
2. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Snow White, the original tale which derives from the Brother Grimm version from Germany, has a special place in motion picture history.
- It was the first full length cel animated feature in the world of movies.
- It was the first animated feature film produced in America.
- It was the first animated feature that was produced in full colour.
- It was the first animated full length feature produced by Walt Disney.
The transformation of the Wicked Queen from her usual appearance to ugly hag in her underground laboratory was the most complex level of animation undertaken at that stage. To achieve the voice changes, the actress Lucille La Verne who voiced the Queen removed her false teeth was an interesting tidbit I picked up.
Cinderella was in the next section of the exhibit and as inspiration was taken from the narrative popularised by French writer Charles Perrault, the story is very similar. Interestingly, live action models were used for this film and they were responsible for heavily influencing many of Cinderella’s mannerisms, especially Helene Stanley.
She had an even larger influence on Aurora (Briar Rose), who is otherwise known as Sleeping Beauty. The earliest Cinderella story however comes from China and actually originated during the Tang dynasty.
4. Sleeping Beauty
This is a favourite Disney film of mine as it has a magnificent villain in the form of Maleficent ( which aptly means evil-doer) . So perhaps those who believe these classic animations are simply kiddie films and lack symbolism are in the wrong. Much of the Disney canon utilises myth and metaphor to a deeper extent if you look beyond the surface.
Aurora also happens to be my favourite princess although not my best loved Disney character . That title goes to the lovely Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame based on the novel of Victor Hugo, also the author of Les Miserables. The artwork in Sleeping Beauty happens to be amazing which comes as no surprise as it was influenced by medieval European history especially in dress design with a touch of 1950s glamour (think Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday) and then topped off with a dash of Persian design in background illustration.
What I noticed from most of these were that the villains were mostly older women who had issues with other women being younger or prettier or more resourceful. If symbolism is present, what does that mean?
But then we come to the story of Beauty and the Beast which is a different affair completely.
To be Continued…
Many people I know claim they only read serious literature especially if they are creative degree students with aspirations to pretentiousness. Otherwise, they are mad about science fiction and anything to do with narcotics.
I am so out of the loop.
While these people bang on about Terry Pratchett whose Hogfather movie had me fall asleep before even one-third of it finished playing, V.C. Andrews and her tales of incestuous tragedy have had me infatuated for years. But I preferred to keep this desire for sordid drama in the closet. It is finally time for me to come out.
It started out with Willow.
But it didn’t stop there. Once I finished savouring the life Willow lives among the residents of Palm Beach where she discovers her true identity , the V. C. Andrews obsession led me to read the sequel, Wicked Forest where the story continues as Willow gets hitched with all the thrills and frills of opulence. Next in Twisted Roots the continued succession of tragedy strikes Willow’s daughter within the saga as she pursues a singing career on the road. Next I found myself reading Into the Woods where tragedy befalls the daughter of Jackie Lee Houston through her socialite mother’s toyboy. Hidden Leaves on the other hand was pretty much shown to be what Willow’s real father thought fit to tell her after her adoptive parent passed away.
I feel rather bad about reading about the misery suffered by her characters but maybe it’s because you cannot be jealous of her protagonists even if they are beautiful, wealthy and successful. It is fairly clear misfortune will strike at some point and destroy all that harmony anyway.
Then I discovered Heaven which was perhaps the best of hers I have read. It gives us a glimpse of the poor Casteel family and the fate in store for Heaven which happens to be the name of the title character.
Recently I went to the library and while I was going through the section for Archer, I realised Andrews was on the neighbouring shelf and I ended up borrowing Flowers in the Attic. Having invented a mother that could be so cruel to her own offspring, I’m not surprised she’s regarded as an occult writer even though you wouldn’t think so from the substance in the content.
Now I can count the following among the V.C. Andrews novels I’ve read-:
The Dollanganger Series: Flowers in the Attic
The Casteel Series: Heaven, Dark Angel, Fallen Hearts, Gates of Paradise
The Cutler Series: Twilight’s Child, Midnight Whispers
The Landry Series: Ruby, Pearl in the Mist, All that Glitters, Hidden Jewel, Tarnished Gold
The Logans Series: Melody, Heart Song, Music in the Night
The Delia Series: Delia’s Crossing, Dealia’s Heart, Delia’s Gift
and I think if I find another V.C. Andrews I have not yet read, I will still enjoy it even though it cannot ever be classed as serious literature.
Glasses became an inevitable part of my life when I turned twelve. The myopic gene was passed on to me as both my mother and father were short-sighted. For a teenager in the formative years of her life, this was a tragedy. Perhaps glasses are in and trendy in the West as nerdiness has reached new heights of cool but in the East where I grew up, big wide, unobstructed eyes were the norm. Rather rebelliously I tried to satisfy myself by indulging in vanity and satisfying my ego despite my poor vision. This penchant did me no favours as my sight deteriorated.
To make things worse, I’d chosen gaudy, green plastic frames with round lenses which made my face look like a certain boy wizard who has an uncanny resemblance to my dad .
He has also been said to resemble Shahrukh Khan and Jackie Chan to boot (perhaps he should resign from his rural GP practice and globe-trot to filming destinations as a body double for all these actors he looks like – apparently).
I like to be able to distinguish the attractive from the hideous, especially when inebriated with copious amounts of vodka.
Okay that might be shallow – but don’t say you haven’t gone there.
Anyway my suffering was cut short on the afternoon of my 24th birthday when I scheduled my surgery. I’d become used to contacts by then.
Unfortunately they limited my swimming and other water sport activities.
This was the first time I was given Xanax. Best legal prescription pill ever – saw dancing halos above the operating bed (much better than one half-pill of something illicit I once took for my first and the last time which only gave me a queasy feeling and had me end up on my knees, puking into a toilet bowl).
One hour later, my eyes were bandaged and protective goggles placed over my eyes which were stuck with adhesive tape. Coming out in a post-operative daze , looking like an out of place extra in a horror film, I braved the walk home.
Sleeping soundly from 5 pm until 9 am the next morning, when my protective covering for the eyes were taken off, I could see the St.Kilda trams in Fitzroy St from where I stood in the kitchen. I’d never been able to see them from that distance before .
It was perfect timing as I’d booked in for a photography camp at Port Campbell the next day. Too bad now it’s so cold and windy that I don’t even want to swim on the rooftop pool…