BIG HERO 6

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The trailer is finally here for us to watch and love and watch again and love again!

I’ve been following this movie since December, so I did my happy dance when I finally heard the trailer was coming out today.

It doesn’t show us too much about the movie plot, but I’ll share with you what I do know so far:

Set in a fictional metropolis called San Fransokyo (a portmanteau of San Francisco and Tokyo), Hiro Hamada is a 14-year old prodigy who created a fighting robot (from his brother’s huggable robot) named Baymax to fill the void after the death of his brother, Tadashi. To find the killer, Hiro formed a team named Big Hero 6, which included Wasabi, Honey Lemon, GoGo Tomago, Fred, Baymax, and himself.

Here’s everything else I know:

Colorful silhouettes of what the characters are going to look like.

Colorful silhouettes of what the characters are going to look like.

  • It’s coming out November 7th in the US. Only 6 months to get hyped up!
  • It’s based on the Marvel comic series (also called Big Hero 6), but apparently they’re changing a lot of stuff.
  • It will feature the voice talents of Jamie Chung, T.J. Miller, Maya Rudolph, Freddie Highmore, Samuel L. Jackson, and Josh Hutcherson.
  • It’s directed by Don Hall (who co-directed Winnie the Pooh and was a writer on Tarzan, The Emperor’s New Groove, Brother Bear, Meet the Robinsons, and The Princess and the Frog) and Chris Williams (who co-directed Bolt and worked on Mulan, The Emperor’s New Groove, and Brother Bear, and also voiced Oaken in Frozen.)
  • Hiro is a really cool-looking kid, and from what I’m getting from the trailer– and mostly my general excitement for the movie– he seems like he’s going to be awesome.

Who’s psyched? I’M PSYCHED!

EVERYONE GET READY FOR DISNEY’S 54TH ANIMATED FEATURE FILM!

5- Bambi

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Tied with "Sleeping Beauty" for Disney's worst movie poster ever. Too much rant to fit in one caption.

Tied with “Sleeping Beauty” for Disney’s worst movie poster ever. Too much rant to fit in one caption.

As I explained to some seven-year-olds who had never heard of it: “Bambi is a movie about a deer who grows up.” They weren’t too impressed.

Fun Facts are fun. Here we go:

  • There are songs in the movie, but none of the characters actually sing
  • Bambi’s facial expressions were based on those of his voice actor, Donnie Dunagan. I’m going to link you to his IMDb page, because his life was pretty interesting, and it’s totally worth reading (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0241760/bio?ref_=nm_dyk_trv_sm#trivia). His career started when he won a talent show tap-dancing at the age of three, and he also served as a Marine for 25 years, and became their youngest ever drill instructor.
  • At first, Thumper’s name was Bobo
  • One of the few Disney movies to never have humans on screen. Others are Robin Hood, The Lion King, The Great Mouse Detective (I think), and Dinosaur.
  • There are only about 1000 words spoken in the film
  • According to IMDb (When you run a movie blog, that site becomes your best friend), there were several gory ideas for the end of the film that Walt had to turn down. Some were:
    • Showing the hunter getting killed by the forest fire he started
    • Bambi looking for his mother after she was shot and finding her in a pool of blood
    • Bambi getting shot instead of his mother

I’m starting to wonder what was wrong with the creative minds of 1940’s Disney.

Before we jump in, can we just take a moment to discuss the movie poster? Look at the tagline. “A great love story.” That‘s the best they could come up with? Seriously? That’d be the lamest tagline ever if it was a great love story, but, show of hands, how many people even think “love story” when they hear “Bambi”? The love was probably the least well-portrayed emotion in the whole movie. Of all the taglines, of all the deer puns in the world, they went with that. Wow.

And then there’s the book. It doesn’t bother me too much, but I just don’t get it. A bunch of Disney movies (Snow White, Pinocchio, Winnie the Pooh, etc.) start with opening books, which I actually really like. It reminds you that you’re about to be told a story, and feels homey. But if Bambi didn’t start with a book opening, why did they choose to focus on it for the advertizement? Why not the scenery and the other animals? And what’s up with the typeface of “Bambi” anyway?

Speaking of the book, apparently it’s a literary masterpiece. Here’s a representative review, since I haven’t read it:

"Do you believe in magic?" "Well, it depends, but not necessarily. I believe in the effect it has on children, but not, like, magic magic.

“Do you believe in magic?” “Well, it depends, but not necessarily. I believe in the effect it has on children, but not, like, magic magic.”

I just read this book a couple of years ago and found it fascinating and horrifying at times, like when Salten describes the humans through the eyes and mind of the animals. We seem like some bizarre creatures from a very foreign, ugly place with bizarre mannerisms. Not natural at all!

From what I’ve gathered, I think a lot of it is religious allegory and stuff too. So in conclusion, yes, Bambi is a book.

For a book vs. movie comparison, drop by http://dettoldisney.wordpress.com/2011/12/04/bambi-vs-bambi-a-life-in-the-woods/, a blog dedicated to comparing Disney films to their original stories. It’s pretty cool.

 

The movie was pretty cool, too. I watched it with eleven-year-old Eloise (check out the Viewer Profile for details), and we had an alright time. To tell you the truth,  it doesn’t feel like too much actually happened in the film. Which I was okay with, but looking back on it two weeks later, it seems sort of dull. What I remember:

  • New baby
  • New friends
  • Awkward little growing-uppy experiences, model of childhood development
  • The mom dies
  • Everyone suddenly has girlfriends so it’s all okay again
  • Series of slow battles against Man and words of Wisdom from the Great Prince
  • More of that
  • And more
  • And babies again

(It should be noted that the rest of this post is written more than month after I watched the movie. I’m a PROcrastinator.

Here’s what I’ve noticed: All of these early Disney movies either have lullabies or waltzes, and I haven’t seen one of those in a long while (songs like “I See The Light” from Tangled are slowed down a bit, but still, I’d say, in the pop genre). Eloise and I were talking about how they’re dying out because people don’t think kids will have that kind of attention span, and need action sequences to keep them in their seats. Which is interesting, since her two favorite parts were when Bambi was snuggling with his mother, and the beginning when they showed that two minute landscape scene of the forest. And if you’ll recall in Dumbo, my eight-year-old companion’s favorite part was the lullaby. And my favorite part of Pinocchio was when Pinocchio was going to bed the first time. Really, the slow, touching scene is a lost art.

I also realized that this is the second consecutive movie to start with the birth and naming of the main character. Which got me thinking about how many others have that. I came up with Lion King, Hercules, Tangled, Sleeping Beauty, and Finding Nemo. So seven, off the bat. Strange how I never noticed this was a thing.

At the end of the movie, Eloise had this really cool conversation about how the entire movie mirrored itself, meaning that each scene in the first half had a corresponding scene in the second half, but backwards. There were a lot of moments to point out, too, and I think I may have to watch it again to do a full post just on that because it was really thoughtful and I didn’t write any of it down. If you happen to be watching it soon, start with the birth of Bambi at the beginning and the birth of his kids at the end (really, the zoom into and out of the forest) and just work your way in. It’s pretty cool.

Speaking of the birth of Bambi’s kids, that part really bothered me. Literally everyone in the whole entire forest is there when they’re born, except for Bambi himself. And the Great Prince of the Forest. But then the GPotF walked away, and then Bambi was the only one not seeing his kids being born. He was just, like, a 5 minute walk away, staring off a cliff. I have to admit, I was sort of disappointed in him.

Even though this was a very pleasant movie at most parts, it was still hard to watch. Here’s why: When I said it was a pleasant movie just now, I’m pretty sure most of you were thinking “Pleasant?” and then flashing to either the fire or, as it is famously referred to in cinematic history, “the part where the mom dies”. Tell me you weren’t. And that’s why it was so hard to watch. Actually, the first reason was that there were a lot of long stretches without dialogue, but the second is that during every single one of them Eloise and I would just look at each other like Is it now? Now? How about now? Because when the movie was released and nobody actually knew what was going to happen, they were probably just pleasant little portions for everyone to appreciate the artwork and the music and such, but for us it was just these nerve-wracking, two minute stretches of suspense wondering if this one was the one before Mrs. Bambi bites it.

That right there is the dreaded scene. Way, way emotional. I did think it was really well done, but I had a problem with the moment right after. His father’s statement is just so…. harsh. No consoling words or anything, no explanation of death and nature and the world, or a hug or anything. Bambi probably doesn’t even understand what happened, and feels even more alone. And then SNAP!

Its springtime! Which was a strange non-transision, but I sort of liked it. I felt like it was saying “Fear-not, sensitive Disney fans! We know you just got your little hearts broken, but instead of giving you time to sit there and cry, we will remind you that there is still springtime and goodness in the world! Here is a cheerful song to snap you out of your sadness!” Disney’s always got my back like that. Anyway, what I thought was one of the best things about Bambi was all of the recognizable, staples-of-growing-up moments in it. Like when Bambi first meets Faline, and they’re not talking straight to each other, but communicating through their mothers.

Bambi Meets Faline Scene from Bambi Movie (1942) | MOVIECLIPS.

That scene was so spot on! It’s not something I often think about, but it’s a scene I think all of us really recognize from around first grade. And, while we’re on the subject, almost every character in Bambi is someone you recognize from your life. It’s the most successful with that of the films I’ve watched so far. Oh, and Friend Owl giving Bambi, Thumper and Flower what pre-teens commonly refer to as “the talk”? That was a great moment. Again, staples-of-growing up.

The last thing I want to talk about is the whole concept of “The enemy is MAN”.  That cut really deep. Eloise and I actually felt ashamed to be humans while we were watching this. Disney managed to create this extremely scary villain of someone who doesn’t even show up on screen but still makes you just as frightened, but then, it’s not even one bad guy that you can hate, but just a generalization of a whole species. And the scariest part is that the whole concept is even more relevant now than in 1942, with global warming and deforestation and holes in the ozone layer and all. And it shows. It’s very much like how the overall enemy in the Hunger Games series is the Capitol. Making the villain we hate a reflection of ourselves– now that’s scary.

And thus concludes another installment of Babysitting Jack-Jack. In Conclusion:

Favorite Part: THUMPER. All things Thumper. Particularly, Thumper in the part where Bambi and Flower meet. You just need to watch his laugh in this clip (at 00:38) :   I love how Thumper just cracks up at Bambi thinking a skunk’s a flower. Like, it’s so funny to him that he can’t talk or stand or breathe.

thumper gifFavorite Character: THUMPER. Thumper is my favorite Disney character so far, in fact. He is the sweetest little thing ever I can’t handle his cuteness really why don’t they just make an entire movie about him I just love him so so much.

Biggest Criticism: I’d have to say the Great Prince of the Forest guy, who was apparently Bambi’s father even though it was never actually explained in the movie. He seems like he’s supposed to be this character with infinite wisdom who’d be a really good person to go to in times of crisis, but he sort of makes the whole mother’s death scene worse, and I blame him for Bambi’s absence at his twins’ birthday party. According to Bambi’s mother, “Everyone respects him”. Except me.

Okay, that’s all for today. It’s springtime now, so go outside and get twitterpatted, you crazy kids!

I Smell Like Belle

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gastonWhat have we here? What might this post be? It’s a journey into my own life, in which I don’t analyze movie. Okay, that’s a lie. I can’t resist that. But this here is a snippet of my day, my view on adults, and my repulsion at a large television.

The Shopkeeper

So today I was in this really small local drugstore where pretty much everything cost $2.99, and I happened to stumble upon the most fun soap I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s called “Berry Bliss Body Wash”, and it has Ariel, Rapunzel, and Belle on it. Obviously, I couldn’t resist buying it. It’s all part of my long-running quest to be Princess Belle. I’m a more confident, less anxious person when I’m actively trying to be her. Plus, according to my new soap, she smells awesome.

When I went to buy it, the counter lady (who I’d already chatted with a little bit earlier), smiled really nicely. She already had on her Customer Service smile, but she stretched it, and smiled with her eyes, too. And she said “Good choice.” Something I’ve noticed about grown-ups is that they like it when teenagers show that they’re kids. Which is the opposite of most teenagers, who like when their peers act 25. I think it probably goes back to how you always hear adults saying things like “hold onto your youth” and “it goes by so quickly”. They like when you do what they say. Or maybe that’s totally off, I’ll know eventually. Anyway, I found it interesting, how happy the shopkeeper was about me buying princess soap and being totally comfortable with it.

Something There That Wasn’t There Before

Later today, after I had forgotten all about my Berry Bliss, I didn’t feel like doing anything, I felt like a Disney movie, and ended up watching Beauty and the Beast, which happens to be my favorite (and my favorite movie in general, Disney or not). What I didn’t realize until the movie started was that this was my first time watching it on the new TV in my house, and also my first time watching it since I started this project, which has me paying a lot more attention to the animation and artwork in these movies. And although I always accredit BatB to having the best artwork (and the best everything) of all the Disney films, today it was really bothering me.

My household’s had an HD TV in our living room since December. When we first got it, I hated it. I like high-def and all, but it replaced this grainy, square-screened TV we’ve had in my house I think since I was born, and the new one looked huge in comparison. It looked lavish and techy and modern, and completely set off the living-roomliness of the living room. My parents had to console me for the first week, telling me that our new TV was actually quite average sized and when you watch TV in HD and can use the actual internet on your television, you aren’t caring about the room’s offset homeliness. And now I’m pretty okay with the TV.

I swear this is getting somewhere, just bear with me a second. Here’s a piece of BatB trivia: it was the first Disney animated movie to use hand-drawn animation on a completely CGI background. I sort of had that fact floating around in the back of my brain for a while, since I’ve read the IMDb trivia for that page around five times, but it clicked today.

I don’t know if it was the HD, the obnoxiously big yet apparently medium screen, or that I can no longer watch an animated movie without paying super close attention to how everything’s designed and put together, but that fact would not leave me alone today. The backgrounds just looked so CGI, and the characters just looked so hand-drawn, and the knowledge of that was sitting right in front of my and almost blocking my view of the movie. And all through the whole first song, instead of thinking of how it’s totally the story of my life or how much I want to be Belle, all I could think was

CG town

It’s a digital village

Everyday like the one before

CG town

Full of hand-drawn people…

You get the idea. The people just looked so obnoxiously out of place I couldn’t stand it. And now I’m back to being frustrated at my TV. And it’s my favorite movie ever so I really hope this goes away soon. Has anyone else ever had this problem?

Oh well. At least I smell like a princess. I’m gonna go be Belle and read a book, or turn an animal into a prince or something. Stay tuned for Bambi.

4- Dumbo

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I love that all of the early Disney films have really friendly posters.

I love that all of the early Disney films have really friendly posters.

Dumbo is the endearing story of an adorablly mute little elephant who uses his odd physical trait to defy the laws of physics.

The Fun Facts section has returned!

  • The DVD included this segment on the making of a Dumbo 2 and the creators talking about the characters and stuff. It looked pretty good, and I was wondering why I’d never heard of it. Turns out John Lasseter canceled it right after getting promoted to Chief Creative Officer. He wasn’t into straight to video sequels. Thanks, John. Thanks for crushing my dreams of Dumbo’s new adventures.
  • Dumbo was supposed to be on the December 1941 cover of Time Magazine Issue, except they ended up having to make it about the attack on Pearl Harbor instead. Thanks, Japan.
  • Dumbo is the only Disney protagonist not to speak
  • This was the least expensive Disney movie to produce, yet grossed more than Pinocchio and Fantasia combined.
  • This is one of the few Disney films set in America
  • This was Walt Disney’s favorite of the films his company produced

Although the blog has “Babysitting” in the title, this is the first post that involves actual babysitting. I watched this movie with my favorite sister/brother duo while their parents went out to dinner, and we had a blast together. On with the viewer profiles!ethan profileEmma profile

On Sundays, I’m the junior director of 16 kindergarten-second graders. We’re putting on Peter Pan, and the cool kids I babysat play Tinkerbell and Captain Hook. So what’s wrong with their parents and why do they have such obscure names? I told them it’s important to stay safe on the internet and not give out their real names, so for my blog, they could pick out whatever they wanted to be called. Captain Hook shouted out “Road Racer 12,000!” the second I finished. Tinkerbell took some time to think. It started as a humble”Princess Unicorn Rainbow”, but she then remembered that elephants were her favorite animal, and insisted that because of that, they must be part of her name. Ladybugs came up in conversation a little while later, and since she liked them as much as elephants, they ended up in her name, too.

Don’t argue P.U.R.L.E. that The Chronicles of Narnia isn’t a Disney movie. I did at first. I lost. Purle informed me that she hadn’t actually seen the movie yet, but she really wanted to, and she was so sure she would love it that it was already her favorite movie. I think the same was the case with RR and The Nightmare Before Christmas. Especially because he told me a few weeks ago that he like the second and third Toy Story movies, but not the first one, because it was too scary.

When I asked if they believed in magic, they gave me enthusiastic yesses without taking a second to consider it, which made me really happy. We got into a discussion about tooth fairies after that. I told them I don’t see my tooth fairy too often anymore, but his name is Max, and he left on good terms. RR told me his tooth fairy’s name was Jack. “Mine’s a Penelope!”, Purle added. We mused over a tooth fairy’s daily routine for a little while, and how their collection system functions. After that, they jumped on each other and ran around the room for a while until they were tired enough to watch the movie.

This movie was a fun one. It’s really the most light-hearted film so far, and I think it’s because, though they were all animated, this was the most cartoony. The drawings seemed more TV and less storybook. The backgrounds were simpler and more colorful, and the characters were more caricatures than realistic portrayals. I thought this was just for the circus theme and the aesthetic appeal, and it ended up working out that way, but that wasn’t the intention. This was actually the lowest budget Disney film in history, so they had to tone it down on all the details and so-much-going-on-everywhere-at-once look of the last three films. Between the crazy ambition of Fantasia, The Great Depression, WWII, and almost half of the animators going on strike, money was tight around the studios. Which is funny, since I think this movie works so much better in the basic style than it would’ve if it was done like Snow White or Pinocchio.

There also wasn’t anything too dark in this film. It had its fair share of heartbreaking moments, and the scene where Mrs. Jumbo lashes out is a little intense, but there was nothing to give the kiddies nightmares. You know what I’m talking about– The scary forest in Snow White, “Night on Bald Mountain” from Fantasia (where “the creatures of evil gather to worship their master”), and pretty much every other scene in Pinocchio. It was overall a very lighthearted and happy movie, and I’m glad I picked this one to show to the youngsters (I don’t want to be known as that babysitter who showed the kids the film that traumatized them. I still hold a grudge against whoever thought it would be a good idea to show seven-year-old me Sleeping Beauty. I haven’t watched it since). Plus, it featured a circus (there’s nothing more captivating to kids than the circus), animals, and slapstick humor.

The morbidly horrifying Fantasia sequence

The morbidly horrifying Fantasia sequence

Versus the most horrifying scene in Dumbo, which is admittedly a little bit upsetting, but not enough to lose sleep over

Versus the most horrifying scene in Dumbo, which is admittedly a little bit upsetting, but not enough to lose sleep over

 

 

About fifteen minutes into the movie, RR asked me: “Is there a bad guy in this movie?”

“Well, the other elephants that tease Dumbo aren’t nice, and neither are the circus clowns that make him do those ridiculous stunts. But no, I don’t think there’s one main bad guy in the movie.”

RR shook his head at me. “In every movie, there’s kisses or a bad guy,” He explained. “And this one isn’t gonna have kisses, cause it’s based on an elephant, so…”

You’ve gotta appreciate his logic system there. For the record, adversity is the bad guy in this movie. Maybe I’ll explain that concept to RR when he turns seven.

And on the topic of adversity, what was wrong with the other elephants? If they weren’t as entranced by Dumbo’s cuteness like the rest of us, that’s fine. But who makes fun of someone else’s baby the day after he’s born? And, why? Why would you even think to do that?

RR: Aww, but I think he’s cute

Me: Yeah, he is. It’s really sad how they all tease Dum–

Purle: Jumbo!

Yes, Purle remembered Dumbo’s real name, realized the nickname was one created to bully him, and took her blanky out of her mouth only once during the movie to insist we not call him by it. She is so empathetic beyond her years.

My favorite part of this movie was the “Baby Mine” lullaby portion. While it showed all the animals in the zoo falling asleep, the three of us were all rubbing our eyes and yawning. RR fell asleep then, and later, I had to carry him into his bed. It is one of the most heartwarming things I have ever done.

Purle managed to fight to stay awake during this scene, and later told me it was one of her favorite parts. Her other favorite was the ending, when Dumbo got to be with his mother again. She was really affected by the story arc of Dumbo and his mother throughout the whole thing, and I found it interesting how much she picked up on and how well she understood it. I understand how emotional the story is now, but my understanding of it at her age was all about the plot of Dumbo’s circus career, Timothy Mouse, the Magic Feather, and learning to fly. Purle’s favorite character was Dumbo, and the only thing in the movie she didn’t like was how the other elephants teased him.

When we were done and Purle was in bed, she picked out a book of short stories based on Disney movies, since at this point she knows my taste. But instead of reading to her, like I expected I was going to, she insisted on reading them to me. We only got through one before her parents got home. But I’d say the night and my first Babysitting Jack-Jack babysitting experience were a success. This was definitely my favorite rewatch so far, and possibly my favorite movie so far as well.

In Conclusion:dumbo love

Favorite Part: Baby Mine. Isn’t it interesting how most of the early Disney films have lullabies or waltzes in them, and they don’t do them anymore? I think it’s a little sad.

Favorite Character: Though when I watched it this time it was Dumbo, my favorite character’s always been Timothy Mouse. Ever since I can remember, I’ve always picked the little animal friend character in every movie to be my favorite. They usually give the best advice, anyway.

Biggest Criticism: I can’t find anything in the movie, so I’m just gonna give this place to John Lasseter for cancelling Dumbo 2. And to think I’ve aspired to work for this guy for all this time.

And that’s all for now. So ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages…. I’ll see you soon, for Bambi.

 

3- Fantasia

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Fun Fact: The “Walt Disney” signature we recognize today didn’t start appearing on the posters until The Black Cauldron. The word “technicolor” stopped appearing boldly on The Fox and the Hound.

  • Fantasia is a musical term that means a collection of flowy or irregular melodies. Just so you know.

Fantasia was a different sort of movie for Walt Disney pictures, and for the entire film industry. Walt didn’t want it to be considered a movie at all, but a whole new category of film– an experience.
It started with the concept of the film itself. It isn’t a story based on a fairytale or book, but an illustration of classical music.  He knew he had a golden idea with that one, and once it was established, the ideas started flowing. This would be a whole new style of watching a movie. It was the introduction of stereophonic sound, a technique in which recorders are planted all around the orchestra, and then speakers are planted all around the theater, so people could feel like they were at a concert. This was only put into play in some theaters, so people had to pay extra, and buy tickets in advance. They were encouraged to dress up all nice. They got programs, with all the musical pieces. It was even an idea in early brainstorming to have different fragrances shot through the theaters at specific points throughout the movie, though that never ended up happening. In Walt’s grand vision, every six months or so, they’d add a new scene to Fantasia, maybe get rid of an old one. Families would make seeing Fantasia a tradition, and go back every year.

So, as you can probably tell, the movie cost a heck of a lot of money. Between adding new sound systems to the theaters, and the programs, and the amount of time the animators had to stay in the studios to get everything right. To build the idea of Fantasia being a theatrical experience, there were only two showings a day in each theater, a concept that almost doomed it to fail. Also, Disney gets half it’s income from Europe, and for some reason, not a ton of Europeans were going to the movies in the 1940’s.

Also, the public wasn’t quite ready for such an undertaking yet. A lot of people weren’t really into classical music, and didn’t want to sit through 124 minutes (the longest Disney animated film ever)

of it. The movie poster (seen above) mainly advertized Mickey Mouse, so people brought their kids to see it, but it wasn’t really a kids movie, and a lot of them were really scared by it.

I mean, there's no denying that this is pretty adorable. And according to the snobs, Beethoven does not do adorable.

I mean, there’s no denying that this is pretty adorable. And according to the snobs, Beethoven does not do adorable.

Then there were the people who were really really into classical music, and surprisingly enough, the film wasn’t too big of a hit with them, either. They thought the animated rendition of “The Pastoral Symphony” with the centaurs and cupids was too cutesy for Beethoven, and mis-portrayed him. They didn’t like Stravinsky and his dissonant music either. He was too avant-garde for the classical crowd. During the original ballet performance of “The Rite of Spring” (in the film, this was the piece that featured the creation of earth and dinosaurs), rumor has it that the audience actually rioted. At a classical ballet. In 1913. That’s how unpopular Stravinsky was among the music critics. He was the punk of classical music. And the funny thing is, Stravinsky himself didn’t like his music in Fantasia either. “The Rite of Spring” was his ballet, a complete story that went on for hours, and Disney edited it and cut it down.

Surprisingly, “The Rite of Spring” did manage to find success somewhere. It was the first depiction of prehistoric creatures on screen, with the exception of King Kong, so it was re-recorded with a voice-over narrator who talked about the dawn of time, and it was shown in science classes.

The film did manage to run for a year in New York and California, where people liked going to the theater and it was part of the culture, but other than that, it didn’t ever succeed as Disney wanted it to.

He's a Havanese, in case you were wondering.

He’s a Havanese, in case you were wondering.

My movie watching experience with Fantasia was a really good one. So good, in fact, that I don’t really remember much of it. It was the day after I adopted my puppy, Phineas. At the time, he was just under 6 pounds, and didn’t have a name. To put the amount of time I procrastinated writing this post in perspective, he is now 8 pounds. That’d be the equivalent of me growing from 5’2″ to 6’10”. So yeah, a while. Fantasia was his first movie, too. Rock grandpa profileand Roll High School was his second. We’re trying to get him to appreciate good music.

My other guest was my grandpa, who’s an artist and a huge animation buff (and the first person to get the all-new official Babysitting Jack-Jack Viewer Profile!). Watching a Disney movie with him is like watching a Harry Potter movie with me (which I guess doesn’t make too much sense for you strangers, but let’s just say that if you name a number 1-50, I can tell you the corresponding HP character based on how many times their name was used in the series). That’s why there was no “Fun Facts” section at the beginning of this post– it was pretty much fun fact after fun fact throughout the entire movie. We watched a behind-the-scenes after it was over, but the whole thing was almost entirely useless, since I’d already heard it all.

That being said, I think I had the same problem with Fantasia that the rest of the public did when it came out; as someone who doesn’t regularly listen to classical music, and generally watches movies for the characters and plot, I just didn’t appreciate this movie for the masterpiece that it was. The artwork was magnificent (more on that later), and I liked each scene, but I just wasn’t enthralled like I felt I should’ve been. It didn’t hold my attention too well, and I don’t remember all the details right now, like I do with Pinocchio and Snow White. Maybe it was that I had to spend half the movie sitting with Phineas and my attention span wasn’t in the right place. But I just didn’t feel a connection with the movie.

Okay, one last thing: artwork. The animation in this movie is the best. It used airbrush paint, to make a soft and partially transparent effect, and improve the sense of movement. There were 24 frames per second, and when working with an airbrush, an artist does not have the luxury of drawing an outline and filling it in, so you can imagine the amount of work that went into this. Even animating Mickey Mouse himself was made more complicated in this film. They wanted him to be more expressive and to have a wider range of motion so he could fully convey the piece. So they elongated his body and make it pear-shaped, as opposed to circular like it used to be, and gave him a fancy new pair of pupils (before Fantasia, his eyes were just big black ovals). Oh, and the Ave Maria was made with really long scenes, laid on top of each other to make the depth of the landscape, and they were moved at different speeds across each other (that description probably made no sense. Watch the video I’ve embedded to see what I mean). So how long do you think that took? Three hours? All night? Yeah, it was filmed by a team of 9 men over 6 consecutive days and nights. Six. Without stopping. And during that, there was an earthquake in California, but thanks to Disney magic, none of the shaking could be seen in the film.

IN CONCLUSION:

Favorite Part: This scene: Fun Fact: The entire thing was made by one guy. Art Babbitt is the man.

Favorite Character: The Black Pegasus from “The Pastoral Symphony”. And Sorcerer Mickey. Because everyone loves Sorcerer Mickey.

Biggest Criticism:  The film just doesn’t appeal to a wide enough audience.

Since I can’t quote the film for an exit line, I’ll just leave you an assignment. Go listen to some Stravinsky, and find out what makes his music so much less classy than the rest of classical music. I can barely tell the difference.

So long till Dumbo

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Pinocchio BONUS

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...aaaaand we're back!

…aaaaand we’re back!

Question: How does Disney re-release a 70th anniversary of one of it’s darkest feature films and get it to profit, without generating controversy?

With bonus features, that’s how!

Fun fact: All this digital retouching and color restoration and HD-ifying constantly advertized for these re-releases? Yeah, the original animators of Pinocchio spoke out against that. Sure, the colors are brighter and look great and cheerful on a nice big screen, but they weren’t supposed to be bright and cheerful in the first place. The animators took a long time to decide on the colors they used, and they chose those colors for a reason. What’s being marketed right now isn’t “restoration” at all, but modification.

Just thought I’d let you know.

So anyway, back to the bonus features. It all started out with an All-New “When You Wish Upon A Star” Music Video Performed By Meaghan Jette Martin! After an agonizingly long search through all the names of Disney Channel stars stored up in those pre-teen memories I try to avoid returning through at all costs, I still couldn’t figure out who she was. I looked it up, and apparently she’s the one in Camp Rock who isn’t Demi Lavato or the Jonas Brothers. Needless to say, the video was just short of insulting.

Next was the special edition of the film with pop-up “fun facts” (or as I came to call them, “facts”). They started out with a few interesting tidbits about the original story, the artwork and the character design. But as the movie progressed, the ulterior motives of these facts became apparent. They were really just a diversion to tone down the most terrifying and controversial sequences of the film. In fact, I’m almost positive that mathimatically, there was a perfect inverse correlation between the intensity of the scene and the relevance of the fact, r=.99. Here’s what I mean:

pin ff3

Here we see our protagonist drunken, green, and nearly fainting on a pool table while smoking a cigar. But look, croquet!

After the most terrifying sequence in the film, while Alexander makes the inevitable "jackass" joke, we get to be educated about his new species.

After the most terrifying sequence in the film, while Alexander makes the inevitable “jackass” joke, we get to be educated about his new species.

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Oceans currently cover 100% of Pinocchio’s surface. But let’s not think about that right now.

This is a really difficult movie to make family friendly. Oh well Disney, you tried your best.

Some of the other bonus features were actually really interesting. Mainly, the deleted scenes. And specifically, a little lost gem known as Sequence 10.1

According to the special features narrator, “Sequence 10.1 is a wonderful illustration of the wilder side of Walt Disney and his story team’s imaginations.” Well, that sounds like a party. A really charming party at that. Oh, but this twisted sequence is so much more than it pretends to be.

In Sequence 10.1, Gepetto, Cleo (in her bowl), and Figaro are starving. They’re on a broken ship, surrounded by the inside of a whale ribcage. Figaro tries to eat Cleo. Twice. Then Gepetto calls him a cannibal, spanks him, and ties his tail in a knot. When Gepetto steps out for a moment, Figaro tries a third time, and almost manages to swallow our lovable finned friend, before Gepetto comes back in and calls him a beast and, creatively, a dog. He flips out and almost hits Figaro with a frying pan, but holding the pan in his hand, he stares at it too long and starts getting ideas. Then he himself, our benevolent puppet-master, almost cooks up dear Cleo.

I repeat: “Sequence 10.1 is a wonderful illustration of the wilder side of Walt Disney and his story team’s imaginations.” Please, animation team, no more of your imaginations’ wilder sides. I don’t like it when beloved, comforting and un-threatening characters un-comically try to eat each other.

For more exciting Pinocchio extras, invest in Walt Disney’s Pinocchio: Tw0-Disc 70th Anniversary Platinum and Overly-Elongated Title Edition. Viewer discretion is advised.

Well, that’s all for today, Mouseketeers. See you at Fantasia!

P.S. I unapologetically apologize for my lack of affection toward this cinematic masterpiece. I do appreciate it for its characters, morals, and artwork. Disc One is movie gold. However, I don’t feel that I owe anyone an apology for my commentary on Disc Two. If anything, Disc Two should apologize to me.

2- Pinocchio

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Original movie poster.

Original movie poster, in Multiplane Technicolor!

Pinocchio is about a puppet-boy under the guidance of a cricket, who has to go through a series of horrific events in order to become human. For a more in-depth summary, check out IMDb or rent the movie.

Let the fun facts begin!

  • The film starts off with the Pinocchio book being opened, as did Snow White. On the bookshelf behind it, you can see books labeled “Peter Pan” and “Alice in Wonderland”. These were stories Walt Disney had always wanted to make into films, and they had just begun development when Pinocchio was released.
  • Walt Disney was so impressed by Ollie Johnston’s animation of Pinocchio (the character), that he stopped the animator in the hall to compliment him (which is something Walt rarely did)
  • The version of the movie I watched (The 2009 Platinum Edition) had this weird anti-smoking promo at the beginning, in which it showed the smoking characters in the movie, said smoking was bad, and gave a website to help people quit. It was weird.
  • Walt’s favorite character was Figaro, and he told the animators to put more of Gepetto’s lovable cat in the movie
  • Have you noticed that Pinocchio, Jiminy, and the Foxes all wear those same Mickey Mouse gloves? I’m on the hunt for an explanation as to why, I’ll get back to you on that one.
  • The original story was written by Carlo Collodi. Today I went to my first ever quiz bowl competition, and it came up, and all I could think was “I was seriously just blogging about that!” but I couldn’t remember his name, and it was the most frustrating experience, because I bet I was the only one in the room who actually had that name somewhere in my brain.

For this viewing, I invited my best friend Kayla (whose name has been changed for privacy) over to watch with me. It wasn’t really the best choice of days to watch Pinocchio. She was at my house after turning down a not-quite date with a guy she doesn’t quite fancy, so she was already distracted. Plus, it’s Olympic season, which always makes her a little jumpy. After she spent about 10 minutes pacing the room and I’d managed to calm her down with the Opening Ceremonies and some ice cream, we were finally able to get started.

Kayla didn’t seem to like the film at all. Complaining  is what she does best, and when we weren’t pausing the movie to talk about whatever was distracting her (which we did every 20 minutes or so), she was full of quips about how you can’t actually pet a fish and how the Blue Fairy’s dress looks like a Project Runway design.

What bothers me the most is that, as embarrassing as it is to admit, I didn’t love the film either. The “good” characters were charming, the artwork was superb, and the songs at the beginning and the end were heartwarming, but the meat of the movie– from the time Pinocchio leaves his house to the time he returns– wasn’t speaking to me.

I think part of it was that the movie is too dark. I’m referring themes, the characters, the events, everything that appears during the middle of the movie (besides the nose-growing scene, that was adorable). The concepts of Pinocchio being locked in a birdcage, nearly eaten by a whale, and this crazy island where they trick children to turn them into donkeys for labor are all terrifying. The foxes, con-men, and Alexander don’t have musical numbers. They aren’t sarcastic, and they don’t have setbacks in their idiosyncrasies. They weren’t the type of villains where even though there’s nothing likable about them, their sheer evilness is awesome. They’re just cruel.

I didn’t think the movie was particularly exciting, either. I’m not saying it needed a full-blown fight scene or anything like that, but it just seemed to lack energy in the middle. Kayla thought the scenes of the movie felt disjoint, and said it felt like (I quote) “‘Hey, wanna be an actor?’ ‘Oh hey, wanna go to Pleasure Island?’ ‘Oh hey, your dad’s inside a whale'”. I agree, that the adventures Pinocchio goes on all felt unrelated. Kayla and I decided that each of the three story components (the Actor’s Life, Pleasure Island, and the whale) could’ve done well if they were the only story of the movie, and were each elongated and further developed. She suggested eliminating two. I suggested a trilogy. The problem is that I find each of these stories gruesome enough in their 20 minute versions.

I love that quirky house in the background :)

I love that quirky house in the background 🙂

The artwork, however, was exceptional in this film. The animation is more fluid, and there’s more movement all around. Here’s a lovely little video on how they did some of it:

The story behind the backgrounds, Jiminy Cricket, and more (1:57)

My favorite thing about this film was the characters. Kayla said her favorite character was the Blue Fairy “because she makes me happy”. She (the Fairy) was interesting in design, because she looked like the most mature and human (as in, non-cartoony) of all the characters Disney had produced before her. She did have a really comforting quality about her. Gepetto was even better than I remembered him, and I’ve come to the conclusion that he is the nicest old man ever. He makes sure Cleo and Figaro get along, even makes them say goodnight to each other, and sets Figaro up with a little bed and blanket of his own. And through his joy when he first makes Pinocchio to their dance number when they’re finally home and safe, his big heart and affection jump right out of the screen.

But Jiminy Cricket’s the best. I’ve loved Jiminy forever, and I loved watching him and remembering why. He may be a cricket (and he may be a little green man, who knows?) but he is invincible. The look of pride on his face when he’s appointed Pin’s conscience makes me grin, and I love how he immediately sits Pinocchio down to talk to him about being a good person. We see the little bug-person realize his life’s purpose right before our very eyes. And even when he’s upset and scared, he doesn’t leave Pinocchio’s side and tries to keep him cheerful anyway. I’m going to go right out and say that he is the best character in the movie.

Pinocchio himself was adorable, too. In the original, he was a really nasty kid, and all of the other events that happened were to fix his awful ways. But what I liked about this Pinocchio is that he struck me as a really normal little boy. He tries to see what’ll happen if he touches fire. He asks why he has to go to school. Even after the Actor scene, he’s still very sweet and innocent, and I love the way he says “I’m gonna go right home and tell my father!” and how proud of himself he is (of course then he’s kidnapped and it all goes downhill from there). What I like about the choice to keep Pin childish is that when the Blue Fairy comes and tells him he needs to learn to be “brave, truthful, and unselfish”, she wasn’t illustrating his biggest character flaws that needed fixing, but instead showing him traits to look out for and strive toward on his adventures. The best thing about Pinocchio is his story seems real and applicable. He’s small, he goes out into the world full of smiles and confidence. He talks to a few strangers, and embarrasses himself on stage. He makes the wrong friends (even though You Smoke Like My Grandmother Alexander is kind of amusing), gives into temptation and peer pressure, tells a few lies, makes the wrong choices and realizes the repercussions of his actions. But then he saves the day. He remembers his family, and reunites with them. He becomes a better (real) person.

And, though our stories don’t involve terrifying fox-people (why were they foxes, anyway? Figaro’s a pet, donkeys can’t talk and are used for labor, but foxes roam the streets and hang out with other humans and are completely accepted in society?), or amusement parks of mischief and child abuse, or whale insides, we all have a bit of Pinocchio’s tale in our own. I think that’s why this is considered such a great film. It’s an absurd narration of growing up. And I think that’s why a piece of Pinocchio, “When You Wish Upon a Star”, is included in Disney’s signature. The movie represents childhood and discovery, but reminds us of the type of person we should be, and that’s what Disney represents for a lot of us. The song is the musical depiction of pure magic, to me.

They even all have matching nightcaps!

They even all have matching nightcaps!

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In Conclusion:

Favorite Part: As cliche as it is to say… The nose-growing scene. It’s just so creative! His nose doesn’t just get longer, but it grows branches and flowers, they bloom, it grows

a birds nest for actual birds to nest in, and the seasons change. The animators really went to town with that one. Also when Pinocchio goes to bed for the first time because

AWWW!

Favorite Character: Jiminy!

Biggest Criticism: The movie didn’t keep me engaged from beginning to end, and seemed too dark. I wasn’t sure if Kayla and I were too young or too old to fully appreciate it, but something wasn’t hitting the right notes. The foxes also really creeped me out.

Always let your conscience be your guide.

Next week: Hopefully Fantasia! I’m going away for a bit, so if I don’t get to watch it I’ll surely post something fun!

The “Leave a Comment” button is orange and right below this. Go pay it a visit, if you’d like.

1- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

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Seriously, who's the prince in this poster?

Seriously, who’s the prince in this poster?

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is about a nameless and evil queen who wants to kill a young girl for being prettier than she is, but ends up falling off a cliff. For a more in-depth summary, check out IMDb or rent the movie.

Oh, it appears we haven’t been acquainted yet. Well hello there, I’m Hannah, and welcome to Babysitting Jack-Jack, a magical journey through each and every Walt Disney full-length animated feature film.  There will be analysis, there will be speculation and discussion, and there will be fun. So join me, as the adventure begins.

Now then. Let’s start off with a few fun facts, shall we?

  • The movie is 118,000 hand-drawn frames of technicolor animated beauty
  • Snow White has a very unusual high and fluttery voice, provided by Adrianna Caselotti. Walt searched far and wide for someone with a distinctive, other-worldly quality to her voice to enhance the magic, fairy-taleness of the film
  • Grumpy and Sleepy are voiced by Pinto Colvig, who also voiced Goofy
  • A majority of the movie is in rhyme, including the dialogue
  • This movie introduced the concept of a movie soundtrack, and put out the first album with music from a film
  • All of the animators are listed in the movie’s opening credits, however, none of the actors were credited at all

Now let’s talk animation– can you believe this movie? Look at how the water ripples with the wind and vaguely reflects everything around it. And how each animal has its own personality and family and way of moving. And how each of the dwarfs, aside from their namesake characteristics, each just have slightly different mannerisms. Watching the movie with the art in mind, I was completely blown away by how detailed and perfect every bit of it was.

And the scenery! The castle at the beginning was like a painting. I don’t think it comes across as a “cartoon” at all, more as a moving watercolor, or storybook illustrations. Plus, some of the angles and transitions were so interesting, they must have been revolutionary in terms of all films, even the live action ones.

Look at the potion scene, for example (start one minute into the video):

Aside from being slightly horrifying, see the art and creativity that went into that? Whose idea was the tornado thing and the eerie bubbles? Everything about the Evil Queen is pretty cool actually. She has to have some sort of creepy backstory we don’t know about. It said in the beginning of the film that she was actually Snow White’s stepmother, which is sort of weird. What happened to this girl’s parents? I like to think that they were really nice and taught Snow her kindness and caring, but had to leave or tragically died when she was young, but she keeps her spirits up and whistles while she works to carry on their legacy. But why would her father marry the psychopathic queen? Maybe only her mother tragically died and he had no money so he married her and then she kept him prisoner in her dungeon until he died. There’s a suspicious amount of unexplained skeletons down there anyway:

There's this guy hanging from a peg, those two skulls....

There’s this guy hanging from a peg, those two skulls….

And this poor fella. And who knows what's back there in that cage thing.

And this poor fella. And who knows what’s back there in that cage thing.

Sure, the Queen’s excuse to murder Snow in this particular movie was her beauty, but even if she was the most average looking person ever, it was bound to happen anyway. She’s obviously got a pretty extensive evil past, as evidenced by all the dead people lying around in her lair (what non-evil person even has a lair?), her attentive personal huntsman, and the fact that she just happens to have the recipe for living death lying around, and can locate it in a second. Plus, everybody already knows she’s evil. The dwarfs knew without Snow even telling them, and they’ve probably never interacted with her. It’s a miracle that Snow managed to make it through her first fourteen years without any lasting damage and only doing menial chores like washing steps and getting water from the wishing well.

That brings us to the actual plot of the movie. I argued about it with my mom when we finished watching the movie. Here’s what she said:

The movie is beautiful, one of her favorites from Disney, but so traditional. It is the pinnacle of fairytales, and follows the classic formula. Snow White was sort of lacking in personality, who just wants a prince to marry her, and goes about her day getting rescued and doing traditional women’s roles like cooking and cleaning, until she’s saved by her beauty and even though she’s all but dead, the prince does save her and marry her.

This is how the movie looks at a first glance. But I disagree. I think in the end, this isn’t a movie about a princess and a prince, but about kindness and optimism. It starts with the Queen wanting to kill Snow White so she can be the fairest one of all. Okay, that looks petty and completely anti-feminist, but it gets better. When she sends her huntsman out to kill her, he sees her comforting this crying baby bird who lost his parents, (watch it here: http://youtu.be/xNO8bJ4Db5g) and just can’t bring himself to kill a person so loving and kind, so he drops his knife and tells her to run away instead. Then he lies to the Queen. That woman has five skulls in her dungeon and he lies to her! It’d be lame and cliche if he couldn’t kill Snow because she was so beautiful or something like that, but no, he was just that inspired by her kindness.

Once Snow has successfully run to the other side of the woods, she’s terrified and sobbing, but that same little bird from before come and cheers her up. This may seem like a very minor detail in terms of the story, but I don’t think so. There’s a moral right there. Snow White went out of her way to help the bird when he was having a hard time, and because she saved him, then when she was alone and didn’t know what to do, he came back and returned the favor. Snow White teaches that when you’re selfless and go out of your way to help others, eventually that goodness will come back to you.

That bird gets all the other animals to love Snow White and see what a good person she is too, so instead of leaving her stranded in the woods, they lead her to the dwarfs’ cottage, where they know she’ll be safe. Then they help her clean the place up. She makes a lasting friendship with these animals, and they come back to her every now and then throughout the film. She’s kind to the dwarfs as well, and because of how strongly they bond with her and how much they grow to love her, they can’t even bring themselves to bury Snow once she’s been poisoned. By doing this, the Prince sees her and saves her.

So Snow White could’ve died, but was saved as a result of her kindness three times.

Really, I think the film is barely about the prince at all. Snow was stuck in a miserable life, and yes, she did sing a whole song about waiting for her prince to come, but I think it doesn’t really matter what her wish was. The point was that she was optimistic, and though she lived with the most evil person ever and was stuck doing chores all day, she didn’t let it get to her, and kept herself happy throughout the day. Then, sine she’s so sure that she will find the happiness she dreams of, her exact wish does come true. It happened to be about a prince, yes, but that shouldn’t take away from the value of the lesson she teaches about staying optimistic and brave in tough times.

There’s always been talk about the princess marrying a guy she barely knows, but I wouldn’t scold Disney on it for this one. They don’t actually get married at the end of the film, and that wasn’t part of her original wish either. She just wanted to ride on his horse and watch the sunset with him, and I think there’s no harm in that (Note: I’m not going to defend all the Disney princesses on this one, since I usually have something to say about the idiocy in the formed-in-a-day relationships. Just wait till we get to The Little Mermaid….). The lack of Prince in the plot was largely due to how difficult he was to animate. In the behind-the-scenes features, they showed that they had more scenes planned with him, even a parallel plot where the Queen takes him as prisoner and he has to escape, but they cut all of it out because it was too hard.

I do have one major criticism about Snow White’s character, and that is that she’s just too perfect. In fanfiction, we have a character stereotype called a Mary-Sue. It’s a character who has no flaws whatsoever. She’s beautiful, everyone loves her, she’s good at everything and polite. Snow White fits this description to a T, and the problem with a character like this is that she isn’t that relatable to the audience. Snow White, though I love her dearly, isn’t a well-developed character at all, and her personality seems flat and unrealistic, just in its lack of imperfections. Every character in this film is very one-dimensional, maybe with the exception of Grumpy. It’s hard to build up a solid character when everyone’s named after either their appearance, profession, or a single characteristic. I say Grumpy was the most well-developed character, because he has pre-established relationships with the other dwarfs at the start of the film, and though he acts defiant, we grow to know a deeper version of him as the film goes on, through how he grudgingly learns to love Snow White. He actually ends up being the one to warn her about the Queen, telling her not to let anyone in the house, and we can see how much she affected him when he cries at her death.

IN CONCLUSION:

Favorite Part: It used to be the dancing scene, but after looking into the meaning of the film, it’s changed to the part where Snow White rescues the baby bird.

Favorite Character: Despite everything I said…. Dopey. It’s always been Dopey. He’s one of the first favorite characters I’ve ever had from anything, and I still can’t resist his adorable charm.

Biggest Criticism: The one-dimensional characters. I think the animals make this film, and the scenery and music are brilliant, but Walt Disney Pictures needs to step up its game in terms of building stronger characters, who change throughout the film.

Thanks for reading. You are the fairest one of all.

Join me next week for Pinocchio

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