Friday, 25 March 2011

Fantasia Mosaic (XVIII)

At last - it's about time that I've posted this mosaic. Sorry, I should've posted this last week - but in fact: I should've posted this weeks ago! Don't worry readers, my laptop's back now - all fixed but it arrived late though, but now it's fine.

When my laptop had virus problems, I was only about half of Page 69 completed, and as I got it back today - I had to finish off 5 and a half pages left today and it took blooming ages! But, that's all OK now because my Fantasia mosaics are no longer in hiatus - I'm back baby!

This segment which introduces the Centaurs and Centaurettes is probably my favourite part of the Pastoral Symphony segment (if not, the best). The music here is just beautiful Beethoven. Sure, the animation is good and the music. But, what always caught my attention in this segment the most is the girls - the centaurettes. In a way, I was always amazed by them - they are very pretty and sexy, they are beautiful, delicate creatures. No, I'm not leaving my girlfriend! But, it's just the way they are in this segment, they just seemed to be the most beautifully animated than any other Disney girl pretty much up until Ariel in The Little Mermaid. Of course, like most sophisticated Disney males - the centaurs are the boring lot. Sure, they are debonair and strong looking - but it doesn't stop me from being bored of them. The girls are the highlight, they have more appearances than the centaurs do.

I love how the waterfall scenes from the previous sequence continues on and showing the centaurettes in the lake washing and having fun with the other girls. From what you see, they seem to be getting ready with the cherubs helping them out making them look very beautiful for their dates. It appears to be "blind dates" for the centaurs because they are looking out for some girls. Of course, they all choose the girls that appeals to them the most and that suits best. Yes, I'm sure that we wish this could happen - he all handsome and choose a girl for life that best suits us - but I'm afraid that doesn't work in this world.

What I find very interesting is the fact that the very first shot of the sequence shows the centaurettes - and of course, they are all topless. All the topless centaurettes are animated by Jack Campbell - one of the mystery animators. Jack Campbell handles the shot well - but what's interesting is that it seems to have got a lot away from the film censors. Of course, it's slightly covered because their "nipples" are not showing (as Fred Moore did model sheets of them showing their breasts). Of course, in children's films or shows - the censors would completely remove scenes of woman showing their breasts. But here in Fantasia they got away with it. Although I believe that the shot of the centaurette walking out the river with her breasts showing was criticised by film critics because of nudity in an animated film - but I feel that it was made the way it was - and besides it's just one shot (but a very long shot perhaps - Jack Campbell animated the shot which was 79-10 feet - which is more than 1200 drawings and about 53 seconds of footage). Jack Campbell must have drawn more than 1000 drawings of nude centaurettes - I wonder how he felt about animating the scene. Although some of it does looked rotoscoped.

Jack Campbell.

I imagine that shot 15 (the same Jack Campbell shot) was difficult to animate because he had to get so many girls into the shot - I assume that he animated the girls on separate sheets of animation paper. It seems to much to be put into one piece of paper and doing 1000 more drawings of it. The shot of the nude centaurette with the white hair drying herself off and the horse side is a clever shot. It would be difficult because Campbell would have to get the horse drying off right as well as the female body. Seems like a difficult task do to back in 1940.

Without doubt - Ollie Johnston (and Fred Moore) animate the most beautiful girls here. Ollie's scenes are just wonderful to watch - they look beautiful, he animates them well as if actresses were acting it. From all the other second-string animators on the sequence, you can tell that the top animators here Ollie Johnston and Fred Moore animate the most attractive centaurettes - while the others can't quite top them. It's a shame that Ollie Johnston doesn't let a lot of stuff to do because the 79 feet shot was mainly all animates by Jack Campbell except for the girl being prepared by a cherub that was 9 feet of animation. I wish that we could see  more of Ollie later but that's all he animates in the Pastoral Symphony while we will see much more of the other animators, even including Fred Moore.

There is an awful lot of animation casting here: the Centaurettes with the make up on are mainly by Ollie Johnston with a scene by Bill Justice, the scenes of the Centaurettes posing are by the illustrious Fred Moore. While the "additional" centaurette scenes are by Bill Justice and Jack Campbell. Of course, the scenes with the sad centaurette and centaur are by Fred Moore. The cherubs who put on the show and help out are also animated by Ollie Johnston, and also supported by Milt Neil and Bob Youngquist. The centaurs are mainly animated by John Elliotte and Berny Wolf (who also does centaurettes). Amby Paliwoda does two scenes of centaurs and centaurettes who is uncredited in the segment.

In the uncut version, while the "Sunflower" shots were still there - they were originally animated by Howdy-Doody creator Milt Neil. Of course, Milt animated most of the deleted character - of course, it didn't mean that that was all he animated - he got a good chunk of cherubs to animate and he animated a lot of them in this segment. Shot 19 of the centaurette filing her nails is credited to Bill Justice and Milt Neil - and the draft notes are credited to Centaurette - and "Negro Centaurette", Milt Neil would've done "Sunflower" and Bill Justice doing the centaurette.

What's also interesting about these documents is that fact that the secretary uses a word that was common use back then and that's "Negro". Sure, people may be uncomfortable with the term (that's also me), but it's not for me to be moaning about because we need to accept the fact that this is a past document that used this word back then. Of course, Negro isn't just a name for black people - if you go to a paint shop to buy black paint it would say "Negro" on it - it's actually Greek/Latin for the word "black".

Ollie Johnston and Fred Moore animate the most realistic centaurettes. Bill Justice animates minor scenes of the centaurettes - but personally I love shot 51 with the centaur picking out the flowers and the centaurette. Bill did an excellent job there. Of course, some animators like Berny Wolf or Jack Campbell might not animate them as realistic as Fred or Ollie. I noticed that in the two shots of the centaurettes by Jack Campbell he animates the centaurettes with their belly buttons showing. All the rest of the shots never show the centaurette's belly buttons. Which I find interesting - even though some shots do show.

I have to admit - I'm not really a great fan of the "Melinda and Centaur" scenes much - I just felt it was slow - but yet again they can't just get rid of the music. I think the timing of the cherubs playing their pipes was excellent timing with the music and they were animated my Milt Neil. Milt is another animator who isn't that well recognize - but he did have some career later on at Howdy Doody and being an animation mentor.

Fred Moore's scenes of the sad centaur and centaurette are okay - his style is totally there. You can tell that there is a "Moore" style in the centaurette's face. Moore's animation of the sad Centaurette is reasonable - but the animation reminds me of how Ham Luske animated Snow White. But I have to be honest that I'm not really a fan of the centaur animation - it just seems boyish to me - especially in shot 95. That's why that later on in Moore's career - his animation was much crude due to drinking problems. But, no disrespect because his centaurettes posing are just excellent.

There may be some confusions here in the Pastoral Symphony because you won't be able to tell what animator Jim Moore animated - I just added Jim Moore onto the mosaic because the draft labeled it but I still wasn't sure because I thought it could be a typo to Fred Moore's name. But you'll find out later in the draft that you'll get even more confusion between Fred and Jim in the "Storm" sequence. I will write a separate post  about that.

Berny Wolf's animation of the centaurs approaching are alright - but it just doesn't feel believable. The animation just feels clumsy and Berny never seems to be much good at these stuff. I think John Elliotte animates them a bit better than Wolf - but I have to say I like Shot 48 a lot because of the female centaurette and the centaur and centaurette in the background with their pony tails as a holding-hand gag - now that's very clever. It seems that John Elliotte had the assignment that no one else wanted to do - the centaurs. I have to admit that ever since I first watched Fantasia back in 2004 when I was 8 - I always felt that the centaurs looked like Fred Jones from Scooby-Doo - I don't really know why but they always just reminded me of them.

What is amazing about this sequence is the terms of "music timing". Since I have the restored Fantasia on me - the shots feel much better since the 50 Years version. Of course, it's very clever how the fact that even when the Sunflower shots were wiped out - the restoration team and the editors seemed to have done an amazing job with the music. When the Sunflower shot was removed, there doesn't seem to be a bad jump at the music at all - which I thought was pretty cool. What I really do like about the restored version is that they finally fixed the camera movements in shot 42 - because it was restored - it got a very bad close-up of the centaurette as the camera zoomed in.

In the draft, the cherubs are called "Cupids". True, they are also called "cupids" but I prefer using "cherubs" because of the logo of the book series CHERUB by Robert Muchamore. I like the idea that the storymen used the cherubs for the sequence since they are the symbol of the first sign of romance, although here the cherubs look a lot like Pinocchio - and funny enough Ham Luske assigns the cherubs to three different animators who worked on the title character in Pinocchio: Ollie Johnston, Milt Neil and Bob Youngquist (Neil and Youngquist doing uncredited work on the character). What's interesting is the fact that every sequence of the segment seems to be co-directed along with Ham Luske - like his directors Jim Handley and Ford Beebe were his assistant directors on Pinocchio. While Luske uses his assistants Erwin Verity and Jack Bruner in the sequences. I wonder why Ham assigned his assistant director to co-direct sequences. He seemed pretty confident in directing - Pinocchio and all (The Reluctant Dragon, etc.) But Ham uses his animators he used from Pinocchio to work on the segment. Ham worked with a lot of Eric Larson I believe - but Eric was his assistant to begin with and then worked with him closely since then.

Well, I'm amazed my lengthy post on the Fantasia mosaic is finished - I hope that the long wait was worth it - there will be more coming up! I'm finally back on service.

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