Saturday, 5 March 2011

Fantasia Mosaic (XVII)

Deems Taylor's introduction to Beethoven's No. 6 Symphony - or The Pastoral Symphony. We are up to our new sequence folks, so I hope you enjoy these next posts as we see some Eric Larson, Fred Moore, Ward Kimball and Ollie Johnston, and other well known animators.

I will be looking forward to these posts of the Beethoven section - and it was all directed by Ham Luske with some sequences co-directed with Luske along with Ford Beebe or Jim Handley.

To me, I like the Pastoral Symphony section a lot - although this sequence is really loosely based on Greek gods from Ancient Athens in Greece. They show a lot of gods like the Goddess of the Rainbow, The Goddess of Sleep, and there's these Greek unicorns that are Peaguses, and Greek gods like Zeus and Vulcan. This reminds me of Hercules except these are based from the Ancient Gods.

I like the segment and how it starts - it starts off with a "Unit 3-D" and not "Music Room", and the sun rises and there shows a blue silhouette of Mount Olympus, and then as the sun shines the view gets clearer, and we see a beautiful layout of Mount Olympus. Here, we see unicorns and fawns having fun and dancing with some music.

The unicorns and fawns playing is fun to watch - and even shot 20 with the fawn teasing the unicorn with the horns is an amusing shot - good facial expressions and very appealing. Also the shadow flying past the fawn and unicorn is a vital part of the scene as it shows Peaguses and children flying, and there's a young unicorn that is born and learns to fly.

The shots of Peaguses teaching the child how to fly is a nice and touching. It shows that the family member is teaching their child the important skills that they would need for life. Those shots were done by Jack Bradbury who would later become a well known comic artist.

Here different animators take part at several shots: Lynn Karp handles the shots of the young unicorns, while Walt Kelly animates most of the fauns. Bill Justice and Berny Wolf handle a shot of fauns and unicorns. Then, the flying unicorn scenes take over - and we start off with Jack Bradbury who handles the shots of the young Peaguses attempting to fly but fails for the first tries. Eric Larson handles the shots of the mother and the child flying and the shots of the baby unicorns landing in the pool. Don Towsley immediately takes over the Peaguses scenes and does some action scenes of the unicorns flying and swimming in the pool. Murray McClennan handles some shots of the unicorns. Harry Hamsel does some effects animation (mainly water).

Since both Eric Larson and Don Towsley are both Animation Supervisors of the sequence - I'd assume that Don Towsley was the main animator on this sequence - because he handles more shots than the other animators, and I'll assume that he planned the sequence along with help from Eric Larson. Of course, Jack Bradbury and Lynn Karp worked under Larson at the time but I don't think Towsley really works well here because he seemed to have worked closely with Ward Kimball on Jiminy Cricket and Dumbo sequences.

Don Towsley's animation of the unicorns flying is interesting - and even some of the shots of the baby black unicorn with its rear end of clouds' dust is quite amusing - even some of it's facial expressions. Although, what does put me off the most is the adult black unicorn. If you notice in some of the shots - he seems to have red eyes, and I just don't think it suits the character.

Don Towsley.

The red eyes remind me that the unicorn looks evil for some reason. It reminds me of one of those Jawa people in Star Wars - only the eyes - except the colours of the pupils are red, not yellow. I think the eye pupils for Peaguses' (the white unicorn) eye pupils are fine and appropriate - but I don't think red pupils for a character looked appropriate.

However, despite the colours - I do like shot 38 with the unicorns flying through the clouds. Good timing and atmosphere. It was animated by one of the second string animators which is Don Towsley (who looked like his career at Disney was having delights) he animated a good chunk of Jiminy Cricket in Pinocchio or Timothy Mouse and baby elephant flying in Dumbo. He seemed to have got some important scenes at the time, and yet not many people know that name well. But, he worked with Disney until the late 1940's on Goofy - and then worked at other studios like the Chuck Jones version of Tom and Jerry. Anyway back to the scene: on frames 1 and 3 the adult unicorns are flying past the mountains. On frames 4 to 6, the pink baby unicorn flies through the cloud (and the adult black unicorn's tail still shows at frame 4). Frames 7 to 10 show the yellow and blue unicorn flying through the cloud, and frame 10 only shows the cloud except a bit of the tail. And finally, the last two frames shows the "runt" of the Peaguses family.

I have to admit, shot 55 with the fauns animated by Walt Kelly is probably the worst part of the animation in this sequence. The animation is just clumsy, I feel that the body's shape wasn't drawn right - it's timing is fine and staging - but I just felt that the faun looked "ugly". Although, maybe this has something to do with Kelly having troubles with copying characters from model sheets because he was a better cartoonist on his famous comics. Although Kelly's other shot of the fauns are quite good - excellent timing though. A long time, Kelly was claimed to be long-credited for animating Bacchus and his donkey along with Ward Kimball, or that he animated fauns - well, to let you know that Bacchus was animated by Ward Kimball and (Fred - Jim) Moore.

That's all for me to say - the next post is my favourite sequence of the Beethoven segment.


RB (Caterwaul Studios) said...


When you feel like going off topic one day (like I'm about to do now), I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on older cartoons (techniques, styles, etc) such as Fantasia et al, compared to more recent Disney releases. I prefer the classics myself, but I'd be interested to hear what you have to blabber on some of the larger more recent commercial (albeit not necessarily artistic successes).

Forgive me for venturing off topic here!

Steven Hartley said...

Well, in my blog: analyzing on older classic cartoons is basically what I do and that's what I'm supposed to "blab" about. I could talk about commercial - but I wouldn't know what to "blab about though.

That's alright, I forgive your off topicness. I try not to be off topic myself.

RB (Caterwaul Studios) said...

I knew I should have re-phrased that question. Silly me!

I should have more clearly stated: One day, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on current releases (animated films produced and released within the past decade). Many have had great commercial success. However, they may not necessarily be everyone's "cup of tea." How do you think these rate compared to classic Disney productions?

Having said all that - I take it back! I dug deeper, and found what I was looking for in posts like John and Ron, etc. Again, silly me! I apologize for all the bother!

Always helps to have a cup of coffee in hand when attempting to think and write!

Steven Hartley said...

That's right - I've posted my Ron and John talk and on Little Mermaid animators on who could animate what in the Golden Age.

Thanks for asking, perhaps I should recap on the late Disney films.

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