Wednesday, November 28, 2007

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother...

I think that as inspiring as the Magic Kingdom, as puerile as Cinderella Castle is the way Roy and Walt Disney put the stamp of their personal relationship over the universality of everything they accomplished:
“Walt is not a genius, he is just my brother”. Roy would comment to the staff, over the years.
But whether he found Walt a genius or not, he, “As usual, finally came around, against his better judgment, and negotiated the deal.”
He did it for Walt, not for Walt’s genius. Thus, in his humble admission:
“If I contributed anything, I contributed honest management for Walt”.
Walt, on his turn, already in middle age, said, of Roy: "I don’t know what the hell I would do without him…”
Roy and Walt discovered, in the smallness of the particular, the immensity of the heart.
(The quotations are from Steven Watts "Walt Disney and The American Way of Life")

Monday, November 19, 2007

Life as Generosity

In "Mary Poppins", the dance of the chimney sweepers expresses fun and humor through regimentation; moral and yet poetic messages: only a bird or a chimney sweeper is capable of seeing the beautiful view from above the rooftops of London. In the same sense, to feed the birds, before being a moral, “serious” gesture, is one of freedom. Feed that which is winged, innocent and bright, that which flies regardless of one’s “tuppence” worth feeding.
Feeding the birds does more good to one’s own soul than to them, it elevates one above the roofs of London and the exactness of money figures. Just like Walt Disney’s ongoing quest of elevating fantasy and fun above the “exactness” of survival.
It corresponds to the receptivity of life as generosity and not just as accountability. Life as something to create with, rather than pay for.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Mom and Baby

"Lullaby Land" accomplishes something of remarkable poetic strength: Starting from the point of view of an ordinary spectator, with the scene of a mother putting her baby to bed, the short proceeds to join mother’s to baby’s vision in entering Lullaby Land. The division between nurturing and hurt, with which maternal care envisions a baby’s world, is identified to such baby’s eye in the depiction of ground as colorful blanketing and in the turning alive of the cloth toy dog, the bottles, rattles, baby powder, pins, diapers, as well as the cutting objects and fire. Maternal love is wisely and tenderly shown in its encompassing power of merging with innocence, as much as babyhood is expressed in its equally intense force of love arousing.

Touching Honesty

In Miscellaney's posting the clip "How Walt Disney's Cartoons are Made", one can see a young Walt introducing the seven dwarfs of Snow White.
The pride and care Disney describes them with transmits the innocence of a boy talking about his favorite toy, but the awe of a creator in love with his universe. The respect he holds each dwarf with, pushing it to the front as he characterizes it, his touching honesty expresses an integrity as immaculate as that of Snow White. Most remarkable is how, at the two last dwarfs, he introduces Grumpy by skipping Dopey, so as to save Dopey to the very end, like a kid that keeps the “treat” for dessert time.
“ And last but not least”, Disney says of Dopey, and proceeds: “ He is nice” and, looking at the camera, concludes: “ but sort of silly”. The smile that accompanies these last four words, contrasting with the concentration Disney characterizes the other dwarfs, like a happy-ending to the whole introduction, is finally relaxation and self-satisfaction. It turns the restrictiveness of “but sort of silly” into a blessing.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Metaphysical Root

By then, Walt Disney “belonged” to every child. It made no difference the fact that the TV series in which he was “uncle Walt” did not go to Brazil, where I lived. Just being able to relate the characters that peopled one’s imagination, that were role models as well as sources of fun, to that one, flesh and blood person, made this person paradoxically intimate and above it all.
There can be no more supportive relationship for humans than such absolute closeness along with distanced gratitude. With the devolution of childhood’s pre-rational freedom through the meaningful and yet physical, the inspiring and yet immediate, pleasure giving power of his cartooning, Walt Disney brought out a root that, beyond universal, is at once metaphysical and visceral in human’s psyche.
(exert from the book "From Mars to Marceline")

First Time at The Movies

To see, in one’s first time at the movies, fairies and princesses in shape and color, speaking and moving in the primeval and yet artificial reality of the cartoon was a physical and mental delight : one bonded with those images in pleasure , as if they were flesh of one’s flesh, heart of one’s heart. So physically pungent, the combination of fairy fantasy with the Disney cartoon language, like a preordained coincidence, was the awesome turning of the real- from that which merely is- into what must be. The feeling of magic it transmitted mixed a sense of relief and justice. “At last!” Is what I told myself, when I was five, without realizing it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Who is Afraid of the Big Bad Pragmatism?

A farm boy who saw the compromising of living beings for their utility, a boy who grew into a poor, deprived young man, had to learn how to be pragmatic. In the case of someone like Disney, learn it and yet preserve the sense of poetry involved in his awed relationship with natural creation.
Can that account not just for "The Tree Little Pigs" cartoon being an endearing story with endearing, round little characters, but for its side of black humor, in depicting the portraits of the pigs’ parents framed on their wall as a bunch of sausages for one and bacon for the other? In other words, is it Disney the farm boy “faces” the fact that pigs should turn into bacon but is it is Disney the poet that “exorcises” it by humor, and, turning pigs especially endearing produces, above all, a happy ending tale of moral virtue with them?