Monday, October 20, 2008

America for Disney

In the post war period, American art was making its mark with Abstract Expressionism, the style that ends with themes in order to value subjectivity, the inner state of the artist. The nuclear threat and its psychological consequences bequeathed to man a relative, unstable world. If the world turned relative to being destroyed by man himself, if time and space are relative themselves, everything that meant external reality, solid ground, became a question mark, rather than a certainty. To say that the only way, thus, to find stability or meaning was to turn inward is to declare that absoluteness switched from outside to within: to reassert the artistic quest for essence in one’s inner world.
For Disney, however, the external world, more than merely solid, was impregnated with meaning. Walt Disney’s disciplined optimism, coinciding, perhaps with what I am referring to as mysticism, would never allow the dismissal of external reality as something vulnerable to destruction, to a meaningless or “unhappy ending”. Things should turn out well. Disney’s patriotism was most likely his metaphorical “wishing upon a star”. America should settle all conflicts. It was America that served Disney’s idealism and not the other way around. The world should be forever there as ground and stage for the development of a better life, and much better, for that matter, with the help of American ingenuity (Disney’s idealism for Epcot).

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Disney Sharing

In the speech Walt Disney made on the occasion of Mickey's twentieth birthday, Mickey, among many things, also expresses the natural merging of the private and the public in Disney, when the latter, with humbleness, exposes his feelings, almost apologetically justifying his affection for his creature on a emotional and at the same time professional level: “The life and ventures of Mickey Mouse have been closely bound up with my own personal and professional life. It is understandable that I should have sentimental attachment for the little personage who played so big a part in the course of Disney productions.” In the Mouse, Disney’s intimacy is at one with Disney’s sharingness.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Disney Dignity

Disneyland resulted from the dignity of believing that we are worthy of paradise. No wonder, Sergei Eisenstein, in commenting the Silly Symphonies, praised the purity and brightness of Disney’s soul, and asserted that Disney was beyond good and evil. (Sergei Eisenstein Walt Disney- Circe).
Disney’s innocence distilled the American search for material heaven, that is, the all American impunity to the spirit/matter dualism of religion in general and of much of the philosophical tradition that molds and responds to the guilt-stricken human condition. In Disney, innocence, freedom and daring were one and the same.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Disney Heartbeat

The essence of original Disney animation, the power all its other qualities spring from reverts almost literally to Walt’s compulsive giving of life. It is expressed as a sharing of indiscriminating life-of life, therefore, rendered maternally giving- by both organic and inorganic, human and animal, equal and fantastic elements. In early shorts, for instance, animate and inanimate being were given physically human characteristics in responding to action, as if the physical human element was the all- encompassing heartbeat. A train locomotive could have eyes and mouth, a wiener of a hotdog could be spanked on "its" butt. In the feature films, on the other hand, inanimate matter didn’t have to act human, as long as it made sense to the story line. Snow White’s castle, or the well she sings to, or any other “thing” she comes across, for example, didn’t have eyes or arms, it just fit the story. What was physically human became just emotionally human. In the beginning, indiscrimination had a physically anthropomorphic expression, developing, eventually, to the more abstract dimension of story meaning. In both cases though, this sameness of heartbeat is an all-pervading sweetness, all-inclusive warmth. Realizing or not, the audience felt within love when watching it.