Press enter after choosing selection

Movies

Movies image Movies image
Parent Issue
Day
14
Month
December
Year
1973
OCR Text

There have been few films made that are true events - extravaganzas just this side of 3-D. FANTASIA is the Queen of this category. Since its release in 1940 it has enchanted three or four generations of kids. They ooh, ahh, giggle and when they grow up, they go back and see it again. Most of that chUdhood excitement returns because unlike Disney's later movies. Fantasia is not geared towards shallow automatic responses. Rather than forcing you along, it prompts the imagination and Iets you coast with its flights into the bizarre. To see it again brings back the creatures implanted in the imagination of your childhood. Don't you recall the image of the marching brooms that nearly drowned Mickey Mouse as the sorcerer's apprentice? And remember those fabulous hippopotomi in pink skirts balleting with the goggle eyed crocodiles? The late Walt Disney deserves special posthumous thanks for Fantasia and the hilarious cartoons that carne before it. Playing with Fantasia at the State Theatre is a Mickey Mouse northwoods cartoon, a great example of the simplicity of drawing and rough edged humor that characterized the Disney Studios' early work. Here Mickey Mouse is a devilish creature, an instigator with a tinny voice. Later he became Mr. Clean, a civic leader whose respectability left no room for his youthful qualities of plain craziness and deviance. Sections of Fantasia are a preview of the drastic decline in quality that affected all post-World War II work of the Disney Studios. The film's adherence to the sound track of classical music selections becomes excessibly literal. Images that exactly correspond to the music often seem forced. The Pastorale section's cutesey centaurs and cupids, and .the gushy religiosity of the final Ave Maria section Ilústrate the quality of over-simplification and dripping sentimentality tliat makes Disney's later work repulsively sweet and superficial. The studio's decline in artistic quality came not coincidentally at the same time that they increased their size and diversified their output with the live action and nature films. Uncle Walt seized the time and moved directly into the new mas; televisión market in the early 1950's with Disneyland and The Mickey Mouse Club. Disneyland, his dream of an amusement park, succeeded far beyond anyone's expectations. All of the products operated in an extremely profitable circle. The televisión shows and the movies promoted each other and together they presented Disneyland with such enchantment that everyone in America had to see it in person. Millions of dollars were made annually just off the toys and comic books that carried the familiar Walt Disney signature. To say the least. Walt Disney became a fabulously wealthy man over the last twenty-five years of his life. Though a financial crises of 1940 forced Disney to offer stock to the public, he kept a substantial s share of the studio shares, picked up a lot more throughout the years, and and built up his own lucrative corporation, Retlaw (what does that spell backwards?) to lease his name to Disney Product ion s and run the raiiroad and monorail in Disneyland. Excluding his stock dividends and salary, Walt and Retlaw's 1965 income was $2,000,000. At his death in 1 967, Disney was still tinkering away with more touches on his beloved Disneyland,and overseeing initial work on the now completed Disneyworld in Florida and the highly controversial Disney resort in the Mineral King area of California's Sequoia National Park. However right or wrong they might be, the lives and careers of the great twentieth century American multi-millionaires are all fascinating. Disney is particularly so. More than any other modern individual, his career speaks for the enormous changes in values and the blatant consumerism that have so changed this country over the past decades. Uncle Walt completely succeeded in puiling off a public image of himself as Mr. Nice Guy, a good citizen whose only desire was to bring family entertainment to millions of Americans. He began his career as a poor but ambitious animator in Kansas City, moved to Hollywood in 1926, and with his brother Roy as business manager and a small staff of illustrators, began producing several fairly successful cartoon series. In 1928 on a train between New York and California, he got the brialliant idea of a mouse as a cartoon hero. Artist Ub Iwerks created Mickey Mouse, growing out of Walt's - cept. Mickey was an instant success and production increased and characters diversified. Soon carne the Silly Symphonies The Tlirce Little Pigs and Minnie, Pluto, and and Donald were added to the family, and then the features - beginning with Snow White then Pinnochio, Fantasia, Dumbo and Slecping Beauty, Cinderella, Peter Pan, The Mdy and the Tramp, and the diversificaron into the nature and live action films in the late 1940s. From the beginning Walt Disney had everyone thinking that he was the cartoonist. During Mickey Mouse's first years Ub Iwerks was rightly given screen credit for his work. But af ter that, the only name we saw on the screen was WALT DISNEY. He couldn't even draw. Someone else did that signature of his that has been implanted in our brains. He had to get lessons from his artists for a basic line drawing of Mickey Mouse sufficient for signing autographs. He had us convinced that he did everything at the studio. Until the 1940's, this egomania resulted in excellent animated films. Walt ran the studio on a friendly and informal basis and his extremely talented staff was loyal to the concept of only first quality work. But like so many good things the Disney Studios grew institutionalized. Walt became distant as his studio grew in size and profits . His stubborn fight against unionization in the early 1940's cut off all loyalty and individual creativity from his staff. The most visible fault of the institution is the increasing shallowness of its work. Disney apparently realized he could make more money with less work, less imagination, and technical innovations doing the work formerly done by hand. The films grew into what we know now as the characteristic Disney product. The shallow and insipid movies trigger bane emotional audience responses andportray ,the middle class values that so many Americans fear are on the defensive. Walt Disney lost touch with his empire watched his perfectly created machine of a film studio lapse into making films of guaranteed success - from Dumbo to Mary Poppins. He became the Colonel Sanders of the movies and his studio had the assembly line production routine of a Ford plant. More than any other movie executive or entertainment entrepreneur Disney had a finger on what Americans would swallow. Walt Disney's success perfectly illustrates the sad trend o t' Á mer ican business over recent decades - the quality of one's work does not piatter, as long as it makes money. And the easiest wy to do that is to provide the public with images illustrating the conservative morality that tliey (hink once governed this country. If the middle class version of blando Americana has its way, Fred MacMurray will be president. The drawings here should point out the high quality of artistry and imagination that once characterized the Disney Studio's work. Cruise into any local book store and take a look at the pictures in The Art oj Walt Disnev a S31 .00 book that is selling extremely well this KThristmas season.