Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Walt Disneys Silly Symphonies Analysis Film Studies Essay

Walt Disneys Silly Symphonies Analysis Film Studies EssayWalt Disney, arguably one of the twentieth centurys greatest story tellers, launch his voice in the 1930s. Fol subalterning from the success of the Mickey Mouse mulct, the Disney Studio began the production of the Silly Symphonies, a series that reworked fairy tales and nursery wisdom revitalizing the classics in the hope of producing an fairylike feature. Mickey Mouse was Disneys superstar and occasional alter-ego. Steamboat Willie (1928) had made the studio a cut above his rivals tho Disneys new externalise would take the spectator far beyond Mickey and into a new universe more daring and original that would make the studio not and influential but border line serious art. Taking from various sources such as paintings, magazine illustrations, films and posters, the Silly Symphonies fed the swelling stream of schmaltzy modernism at the Disney Studio, blending the fantastic and the real, the irrational and sentimental, magic and empiricism, highbrow and lowbrow culture (Watts, 2002 111).The Silly Symphonies allowed the spectator to enter a fantastic innovation of nature, fairy-tales and metamorphoses, providing escapism full of colouration and movement, free from history and repression. Russian filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein was a great admirer of Disneys early Silly Symphonies and the features up until Bambi (david hand, 1941). In his stark papers he discussed the work of the Walt Disney Studio between 1928 and 1941. Eisensteins fascination with Disney animation is based on the fantastical, alogical order in which it is possible toachieve a ascendancy and supremacy in the realm of freedom from the shackles of logic, from the shackles in general (Disney) gives us prescriptions from folkloric, mythological, prelogical thought but al substances rejecting, pushing aside logic, brushing aside logistic, pro remainsa logic, the logical case (cited in O.Moore, 2002125).The Silly Symphonies allowed th e animators to try out new techniques and ideas with the two most important being the ability to squash and stretch self-aggrandising the animators freedom to exaggerate their characters runs and expressions but also to create believability in such a way that the audiences accepted the distortions in a characters incarnation. Eisenstein was attracted to the elasticity of the stir cartoon and fascinated by the ever changing contours defining it as plasmaticness, a rejection of once and forever allotted stock, freedom from ossification, the ability to dynamically expect any form (Leyda, 198821) Disney was not the first to experiment with form. French animator and auteur, Emile Cohl had produced Fantasmagorie in 1908. Lasting two minutes, the hand of an artist draws a clown which shape shifts into a myriad of images, for fantastic or comic effect, invoking an optical amusement for both young and old. The hand of the artist illustrates the advantage of working in animation, with t he characters obeying to the duty period at the nudge of the animator. Eisenstein writes that it is the sight of omnipotence that makes the image so appealing as it holds the ability to become whatever you wish turning stable forms into forms of mobility. (Leyda, 1988 21)Eisenstein frequently center on the Silly harmony, Merbabies (1938) in which the metamorphoses and juxtapositions of the characters are central to the short. He exclaimsA striped fish in a cage is change into a tiger and roars with the voice of a lion or panther. Octopuses turn into elephants. A fish into a donkey. A departure from ones self from once and forever prescribed norms of nomenclature, form and behaviour. Here, its overt. In the open. And of course, in comic form. (Griffin 56)Eisenstein delighted in watching inanimate objects and animals metamorphose in shape and substance and then used for purposes other than intended. Whereas Emile Cohl transformed one object into another, Disney demonstrated the manisation of inanimate objects. Whilst still maintaining their properties, the animals were able to think and behave like humans. What was once a tall building is at once a building swooping down to avoid an oncoming plane, a trees branch becoming a long bony arm.Not only had Eisenstein recognised the splendour of the Silly Symphonies but so had America. From 1930, Silly Symphonies won an Academy Award every year for their cartoon shorts laying the stepping stones for his feature length films. The shorts looked toward experimenting with sound, music and image, focusing less on gags but evoking mood and emotion. An analysis in Stage magazine described the Silly Symphonies as,a rare kindly of art wherein musical and pictorial elements came together as a seamless whole. With the music in a Bach chorale or a Mozart symphonic musicfrom the smoothness and precision of the lucid thing you hear, you are not aware of the formidable equipment of harmonics, counterpoint, and pure mathemati cs that its composer had to possess. So with les oeuvres Disney (Watts, 2002123). With another critic observing, not until a couple of years ago were you ever permitted to see and hear a six-legged spider pounding out Schuberts Liebestraum or a baby grand easy or a pelican rattling off the Anvil chorus from Il Travatore on the bony skeleton of a giraffeor Mickey acting a xylophone solo on a set of false teeth (Watts, 200274)The Silly Symphonies expressed music without specific or recurring characters, with the action of inanimate objects or anthropormorphic animals moving in synchronisation with the music. Many of the shorts were built around a community of non-human creatures, joyful and celebratory, glorifying rural life in opposition to the oppressions of the big city. Russell Merritt notes that Disney himself was simply adapting the formulas of American marionette theatre, which in turn had been influenced by turn-of-the-century fairyland operettas and stage musicals.Nor can t he drawing, based on the style of American illustrators like Harrison Cady, W.W. Denslowbe considered original art. But in the world of commercial American cartoons, no one had seen anything like it (Kaufman, 20066). Working on board with Disney was the passing talented animator, Ubbe Iwerks and composer and music director, Carl Stalling. It was Stalling who came up with the original idea for their first Silly titled, The Skeleton Dance (1929). Entirely animated by Iwerks in nasty and white, and inspired by Edgar Allen Poe and gothic illustrators, The Skeleton Dance invites the spectator to an abandoned graveyard. The haunting visuals alert the spectator the widening eyes of a terrified owl, a full moon, wind blowing whilst the owl shivers and hoots, expanding and shrinking. A branch from a tree swoops down, looking like a long, thin witchs arm. Bats fly from the belfry into the camera, a spider appears and crawls away, a dog howls, two cats bicker spitting and sparring until out of the grave comes a skeleton.Atmospherics and mood is created with the visuals being accented by the music. Symbolic of a Halloween night (and later used as the inspiration for Disney Worlds Haunted Mansion) the images fright as well as amuse and approach wickedness and death in a comical way. Styled like a comic vaudeville routine, the skeleton bubbles with charisma. Metamorphosing in a comedic manner and dancing the Charleston, the skeletons dance in perfect synchronisation with Stallings score. What distinguished Stallings scores were their playful, often brilliant comic non-sequiturs a radically disjunctive mingling of serious music with cakewalks, ragtime, and soft fit out.the symphonies revelled in a musical openness ahead of its time, a non-hierarchical approach, in which all genres of music were considered equal- all joyfully embraced, nothing sacred. (Kaufman, 20068)As early as 1930, capital of Minnesota Rotha wrote, To many writers at the moment, the Disney cartoons are the most witty and satisfying productions of modern cinema. Their chief merit lies in their immediate appeal to any character reference of audience, simply because they are based on rhythm. They have been compared with the early one reelers of Chaplin, and the way in which they appeared unheralded, gradually to achieve an international acceptance is not unconnected that of the great comedians early work. (Kaufman, 20068)In contrast to The Skeleton Dance and with the new frontier of Technicolor (the new three-colour process for film), Flowers and Trees (1932) presented a moralistic story about cheeseparing triumphing over evil (a common theme within the Disney films). As morning breaks, nature awakes from its slumber. The trees stretch their branches and yawn, the flowers awake some brush their teeth, others perform their daily exercises. The mushrooms egress out from beneath the ground. The female tree has leaves like feather bowers and uses white flowers to powder her nose. Th e old tree stump is dark and grey with crows nesting in his downcast branches. As he yawns, bats fly from his mouth. The male tree pulls at some reeds to play the harp, another tree conducts as the birds sing along.Flowers and Trees pays homage to tralatitious culture. The magical story is accompanied by the music of Schubert, Rossini and Mendelssohn. These films work to the classical narrative of a heterosexual romance with a celebration of the community or courtship. There is a conflict, a kidnapping of some sort with the climax of the male protagonist duelling and saving the day with harmony being restored. Rather than the nakedness of the crowded city street, animation allows an attractiveness, a transformed world, free from restrictions, restrain and control, inviting a new freedom. Eisenstein comments that Disneys works themselves strike me as the same kind of pour forth of comfort, an instant of relief, a fleeting touch of lips in the hell of social burdens, injustices an d torments, in which the circle of his American viewers is forever trapped. (Leyda, 19887) This was not only for children but for anyone of any age proving that cartoons can appeal to both intellect and imagination.The Silly Symphonies were more original and more progressive and caused a revolution in the animated cartoon industry. Out of the 210 (find ref) Silly Symphonies, only some are remembered if at all, with only a few remaining famous. Shorts such as The tierce Little Pigs, The Old Mill, Flowers and Trees and The Skeleton Dance are the most recognised with only the Big Bad Wolf and Donald Duck remaining well-known Symphony characters. Disneys films were then a lyrical, limitlessly imaginative revolt against the disciplinary regimes of the capital, against the big grey wolf who in America is behind every corner, behind every counter, on the heels of every person especially those of the working class. (James, 2005271)As time passed by and the Disney Company expanded, Disney f inally betrayed Eisensteins notions of utopian promise in the medium (James, 2005271). The Silly Symphonies enabled the studio to extend their aesthetic experimentation, taking it in new directions and laying the foundation for the narrative formulas that made Disney so popular. He had mobilised the highest quality skills and developed new technical foul innovations such as introducing synchronised sound, colour, special effects and the multi-plane camera. Eisenstein criticised the use of colour in the Disney films describing it as an amorphous, extraneous element that plays no part in Disneys tremendous synchronous dance of lines and shapes, melody and rhythm. (find ref) Disney had finally abandoned the plasmatic that was apparent in the early Silly Symphonies and began leaning more toward the verisimilitude of graphic representation. Animals now possessed human characteristics both emotional and psychological and his style abandoned its utopian potential, establishing realism as the norm in animation.85Animal bestiary ss were effectively experimental films progressing the form itself.86 Disney was moving closer to the revelation of the animal and progressing the form toward a hyperrealoism, which though diminishing some aspects of the freedoms of the animation language, began to ironically facilitate a way in which truly cinematic effects might be achievedNeed to add inThe Silly Symphonies were intended for the mass market and thus colour was used not only to present the real and express narrative development but also to provide transformations were it is as expressive and fluid as music.ever, Kristean Moen argues that colour can be seen as a site of instability and fluidity.introducing high art to animation. The name itself suggests a blend of both high and low culture and demonstrates the studios attitudes to high art.Exhibition book,89-The Disney animators also utilize the principles of follow- by means of and overlapping action. Never done, most things were like a cut out, moving in one piece. No one thought of the characters clothing following through, sweeping out and dropping a few frames later, which it does naturally. Thats why d anuimation looked so different.The animators applied principles used in the theatre- secondary action, anticipation, staging and timing to create believable perfomanc. 3 little pigs was a rbeakthough for the first time, characters who look alike demonstrated differing personalities through their movements. It now wasnt just how it looked by gow he travel and determined his personality.90-As the work of the animators became more polished, the performances grew more subtle AND NUANCED Until they rivalled the acting of live performers. the characters cease to exist as drawings but become live individuals.Although not directing many of the Silly Symphonies, they benefited from Disneys intervention and he was making animation a sophisticated art form. Paul Wells argues however that by taking into accou nt the contribution of Iwerks, it is possible to challenge the view that Disney can be wholly understood as a figure around whom the key enunciative techniques and meanings of a film accrue and find implied cohesion. (Wells )Watts 108The Skeleton Dance dramatically enlarged the boundaries of enchantment and the uncanny for mainstream cartoon industry. From its early days metamorphosis had always been the mainspring of cartoon magic. Cartoon characters were made of parts that could change, bend out of shape, detach, grow or diminish. Landscapes were forever changing themselves. But the ss moved awar from such surreal (not abandoning them altogether) and expanded upon atmosphericsMerit pg, 8 (rephrase)

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