Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Another Feature Mosaic On It's Way

I know, I've already completed Alice in Wonderland, but I still feel the need of producing more of these mosaics immediately...so, over the next weeks and months, I will be showing you Prod. 2004 - Fantasia.

Here are the first few of these mosaics:

Ever since Hans has started to post the draft to the film (and sadly he's nearing completion of the draft), but just here my mosaic will start. The crowning Disney achievements, I've always considered was indeed Fantasia. It's my favourite Disney feature and production of them all on par with Pinocchio. If Pinocchio was never made into a mosaic, I'd make it immediately, but it's nice that Mark Mayerson has already made one three years earlier.

However, I've already made these mosaics for the film, and by very, very early in 2011, you'll see Fantasia. Bur, right now I'm just showing you the introductions.

That's how the film starts off with, I think it starts perfectly - the curtains are rising, and the Philadelphia Orchestra team are entering about to get ready for a very long session for playing the entire part for Fantasia. The instruments for the sections like the brass, the woodwinds and the percussions are tuning up their instruments and getting prepared, and then as it's all been tuned up and they're ready - Deems Taylor comes along and he starts his introductions to:
How d'you do? My name is Deems Taylor, and it's my very pleasant duty to welcome you here on behalf of Walt Disney, Leopold Stokowski and all the other artists and musicians, whose combined talents went into the creation into this new form of entertainment...Fantasia! "
Great introduction to the film, as he's greeting the audience to settle and to enjoy the film, and also thanking Walt Disney, Leopold Stokowski, and his animators and artists, and the musicians who made the film possible.

Deems says his introductions about the Toccata and Fugue and what the audience will see, and the fact that it wouldn't be their imaginations; they have to believe that what they are seeing on the screen. He says, that so many additional objects may be popping up on the screen like thunder bolts, masses of colours, or shadows.

Toccata and Fugue is clearly in two parts, the first part is the Toccata and it's all been filmed with Stokowski conducting the piece, and the orchestras are playing their oboes, clarinets, or violins, etc - all in silhouette. I love hearing the instruments here of the beautiful harp done by a woman in silhouette, and the trombones and bass drums playing. Yes, I must say I'm pretty knowledgeable about music as well as animation. Of course, I know that Johann Sebastian Bach composed this piece, and he was widely known for it. Although, the name Toccata and Fudge in D Minor is just a version for it, the real name is Toccata and Fudge.

When I was a wee lad (8 years - well I'm still a lad - a big lad, you could say), and I used to watch the film frame-to-frame everyday including the Deems Taylor dialogue, and I used to pretend I was one of the people in the orchestra and I was playing the instruments. Although, at the time I had no musical talent - although today I play an instrument. I play a bit of the guitar, and once in a school performance last summer, I was one of the "orchestra" playing Bill Haley & His Comet's hit song "Rock Around the Clock", and it was fun playing it, although it was a hodge-podge because I had to move the chords very quickly and I had to sit down doing it and the audience couldn't see what I was doing, also what was a pain that I had no amplifier for the guitar, and they couldn't hear what I was playing, because the drums and keyboards at the back were very loud. I actually have a picture of me playing the picture, although I won't dare post it on this blog.

It's nice to see that the live-action stuff was directed by animation sequence director Sam Armstrong, and his long-time assistant Lloyd Richardson (whom we saw in Alice in Wonderland), and you will know that all the Deems Taylor footage of him doing instructions about The Rite of Spring (directed by Bill Roberts/Paul Satterfield), or Dance of the Hours (directed by T. Hee/Norm Ferguson), and Armstrong directs all the live-action footage in this film, as well as the animated segments -- so much stuff he had to do on Fantasia.

Interesting that the layouts credit Lee Blair (Mary Blair's husband) and Elmer Plummer, although there is no layout drawings here, as it's all live-action. Although, the artists did do conceptual designs of what the orchestra and the hall would look like, and that's probably most why they were credited for the live-action scenes.

Probably, the most annoying fact about these two sequences (and the entire film), is the fact that Deems Taylor's voice has been re-dubbed by Corey Burton. Sure, I don't mind Burton's voice in the films; but I never understood why Taylor's voice HAD to be redone? The editors and restoration team of the film claim that Taylor's voice wasn't clear enough to hear, but I think that's just a lame excuse. C'mon, I was 8 years old when I first saw it and I could hear pretty darn well with what he said (even though I didn't have the best hearing back then). So really, I think it's a mistake and the Disney restore team should bring back the original Deems Taylor's voice because THAT'S his real voice, Deems' voice is not Corey Burton's voice.

So, for the future postings - I hope you will enjoy these new Fantasia mosaics!


Eric Noble said...

Actually, from what I've heard, many of the audio tapes of Deems Taylor were destroyed or had disintegrated by then.

Very nice start!

Steven Hartley said...

Oh, a different reason. Thanks for telling me; I don't recall hearing about that.