Sunday, 12 February 2012

Mendelssohn's Spring Song - Cy Young

Hi there - folks. Sorry if it feels like AGES since I haven't written a post in there since I've been pretty busy with the other blog and schoolwork, but since the blog seems incredibly empty - I thought I'd step back in for a short time. Recently; I came across some interesting animated shorts that I recall from memory that I want to review again; but here is a cartoon that I remember watching the first time about two years ago and it was directed by a favourite of mine, Cy Young back in 1931.

The short is titled Mendelssohn's Spring Song. Of course; this cartoon is sort of like a presentation or showing animation combining with the Mendelssohn piece. It seems that at the time Cy was trying to find a distributor to that short and some sources say Walt Disney saw the cartoon himself and it was the reason why Young was hired to the Disney Studios. This cartoon was put onto by DVD by Steve Stanchfield some years ago; and I remember it being on YouTube once; and I'm going to go through it again. The animation in it can he really bizarre but wonderful to look at; and I think I want to go through it - by step. The music is credited to Carlo Peroni.

Here's the YouTube video before you watch when I go through it.

I'll post most of the short's pictures of the scenes by using the screen grabs and then I'll end it with my overall comments; as I wish I could review the whole thing - but having to have done many Buddy cartoons to review; I don't know I have the energy - but you follow and read. :-)

I love how the cartoon opens with the terminal sign "Aunt Arctica" and there are these two Eskimos like that pull a switch in which a traffic sign pops up but hit's the sun's face that shouts "OUCH!". It's very amusing to look at; but it looks a little creepy for starters but the timing is awesome. The flame of the sun then lands on a steam locomotive in which the engine is about to start. There are these weird bizarre bells that are starting the train with the sun shouting "All aboard!". I love the animation on how that the train wheels have just got a bump at the end of the wheels and they're sort of like jumping - just perfect timing for a 1931 cartoon.

The train then starts to go under a tunnel in which there is a beautiful background effect of going inside the tunnel and the lights inside the dark. I wonder if Cy Young did all the animation himself since he was sort of an effects animator. What I find really crazy but subtle is that the train was a caterpillar crawling out of a piece of fruit and onto a tree. The caterpillar then unzips itself and forms into a butterfly. Gorgeous animation; it's all just wonderful to look at. The butterfly then has a violin and bow that pops out by magic. He starts to play with it's finger popping off and playing the lower notes on the strings.

They're all pretty colors that all work - even though this isn't Technicolor. The trees and cloud turn into dancing; the backgrounds are very simple looking but wonderful. I like how the cloud dancers are dropping rain that look like tears. The raindrop animation that lands on leaves is pretty beautiful although the animation standards on effects animation weren't fully accomplished. I like the effects that show the butterfly passing through the trees in which the flowers then start to change colors or even the part when that bug is painting roses red.

As we track down the red roses we see these Romeo & Juliet type bugs that are doing an impression of the balcony sequence in the Capulet's orchard. The bug is playing harp music on the spider web. The female spider then brings down a barrel of love hearts which I guess is romantic for a cartoon. The bugs are then swinging by a spider web cuddling each other. Aww. The next part we see some frog animation and has "Zzz" letters coming out which means he's having a snooze - and we see some clever animation the letter movement.

The cartoon comes to an end in which we see these two birds that are carrying with them - erm, something red or for the baby birds to eat. Inside the birdhouse is a mother bird cradling some eggs that aren't hatched yet. The family of birds then start to have dinner. The mother pulls out a tureen in which there is a whole giant worm for everyone. The last frames of this short are in black-and-white. Is this because of a fuzzy film projector or that the cartoon wasn't yet completed?

Overall comments: My overall comments on this short cartoon is that it's sort of like watching a very early Silly Symphony cartoon made around 1929 up to 1931; with all those bug scenes and also the choice of the song used; which is Mendelssohn's Spring Song. I think this was probably shot in 2-strip color but the credits says it was shot in Brewster Color. Cy Young; who directed this cartoon is credited as "Sy Young". Which is probably rare for him to be credited that way. The song is pretty popular in animated cartoons, since guys like Tex Avery used the song often for his cartoons; and Carl Stalling - as well as other cartoon directors. The surrealistic images at the beginning are just wonderful to look at. The animation was just beautiful to look at; and it's pretty much unknown and I feel it deserves some recognition. I wonder if Cy Young did all the animation? The beginning really sticks to me the most since I love the bizarre surrealistic parts of this animation which all works really well and what a cartoon at the time should be. It gives us the feeling that animation can do bizarre things. Bravo do Steve Stanchfield for finding the 35mm copy.


Sanek said...

Great post and nice cartoon, Steven! I'm glad to see new post on this forum.

I respect fans of animation like you, who have the usual interest in not very important people in animation, but who's very interesting to them!

Steven Hartley said...

Well, I do like to stick to the lesser-known animators who deserve a lot of praise.