Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Daily Post: A New Beast, and Some Thoughts on Disney Past and Present, Pixar, and Chomet

Reminds me of some sort of Disney interpreted Winnie the Pooh character. Sort of.

Some Thoughts on Disney Past and Present, Pixar, and Chomet

Been looking at a lot of Disney lately. The Jungle Book isn't as good as I remember it, The Aristocats is quite a bit better, including just the general design (love the backgrounds!)--I can understand why Chomet is a fan--Pinochio is a feat of craft. Can't wait for Chomet's The Illusionist. Chomet is out-Disneying Disney, at least Disney prior to the very early 70s. Can't wait for The Illusionist.

As for the 70s: As much as I like The Rescuers it was the beginning of the more budget conscious movies that followed. No more Pinochios! The true star of The Rescuers is Madam Medusa, a descendant in spirit of Cruella Deville, both animated by the great Marc Davis.

The true beginning of the end, though, was The Little Mermaid. All the subtlety and naturalism of the Disney of the past was lost in favor of fast-paced action and rapid, squirrelly movement that doesn't resemble anything remotely in nature, and the music became even more annoying. Once Phil Collins was brought in to do the soundtrack for the completely unrecognizable Tarzan they had truly reached their nadir, but somehow they continued to be more successful than ever as parents began to babysit their kids with multiple viewings of every film from the Disney catalog, particularly the lame new stuff. Disney's concept art was still done by some fantastic folks, but like a lot of concept art, Mary Blair in particular, the concepts never quite reached the screen.

Disney and its imitators have also been trapped in the Disney look, basing all their character designs on earlier Disney characters, neglecting to see the visual evolution in the Disney character designs that took place in between Snow White and 101 Dalmatians. Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, all borrowed the appearance of their characters from earlier princesses and animals animated with a quality of craftsmanship the new characters could never match. They even managed to screw up Gerald Scarfe's character designs for Hercules! Once again the concept art never reached the screen.

Right now Pixar is the best we've got going in the states with some solid storytelling, but CGI has never quite overcome it's sense of sterility. Pixar right now is also producing the best concept art, and I recommend checking out any of the "Art of" Pixar books to see what I mean. Now only if they they could somehow translate the life in those drawings onto the screen. CGI can't accommodate the life in a drawing, but that doesn't mean there isn't hope for the medium. It continues to improve, and then there's always Chomet!

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