Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Thoughts on Tchaikovsky and Disney

I still have some of these black and white photos to post from late summer. This was a lime cake with a blackberry sauce. It was pretty easy and really good, though straining the blackberries was slightly tedious. Check out the recipe here.

Lately, I've been watching a lot of Disney. Classic Disney. I have no idea what they are making currently. Actually that is not completely true I know they are returning to some hand drawn animation. Thank goodness, all the digital animation looks the same to me, which is why I don't know what production company made what film. The classic films seem to take more risks and are even somewhat experimental. Of course Fantasia is pretty obvious, but as I watched it during vacation in hopes of lulling my little one to sleep I was impressed, again. I only watched the Nutcracker Suite segment, though I watched it many times, but it amazes me how a major motion picture such as this focuses so much on visual interpretation of music. In some ways it makes me think of Stan Brakhages late films. In my last year of college I saw him speak about how he was attempting to use each frame to visually represent a musical note from any given work of music. For instance he showed this film, Water for Maya. Fantasia is significantly more accessible than Brakhage, but it interests me that they merge conceptually.

At first my daughter would only watch Belle, not even all of Beauty and the Beast, just the parts with Belle. Now she is just starting to broaden her horizons and she will watch some of Sleeping Beauty. I remembered that the film used parts of Tchaikovsky's score, I assumed the most famous parts, but in reality the film uses most of the score. The entire film was clearly created around the music; it inspires the entire film. Much like Fantasia, of course there is a story and characters in Sleeping Beauty. Contrast this with the most recent cinematic interpretation of The Nutcracker, that appears to focus only on the violence of the original story. Granted I've only seen the trailer, but I don't think music is the inspiration behind the film since barely any Tchaikovsky plays in the trailer, just a few notes of Sugar Plum. On a side note, my other complaint about this film is that it credits Tchaikovsky with story and music, when the story should be credited to E.T.A. Hoffman. If your seriously adapting a story it seems as though you'd know who wrote it.

Tchaikovsky has always been a personal favorite of mine. I know for someone who loves ballet that is a huge surprise. I am so excited that my daughter appears to like it as well (or that she wants to like what I like - I know that won't last). I just ordered the entire score of Sleeping Beauty for us to listen to and I am on the edge of my seat waiting for it to get here.

As I have been refreshing myself on classic Disney I am amazed at how each film has its own look and style. For instance Bambi is a watercolor interpretation and Sleeping Beauty has a medieval art look to it. There appears to be so much more thought and care given to these films that I don't see/feel in very many films of today. It is amazing to rediscover them.

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