Monday, December 29, 2008

Disney Purity

Freedom from tradition and many times destruction of it is characteristic of American culture, but Walt Disney’s freedom seemed to have encompassed a personal and unique easiness before the unpredictable. While most people are threatened by what behaves like a forever mutant and challenging sea, handling it with the illusionary safety of repeated patterns of behavior, schemes, or plans, Disney was pure enough to be disarmed before it, to be constantly open to novelty.

Disney: Freedom and Courage

Mickey, Walt’s crucial assertion of courage, marks the initial revelation of Disney’s total freedom from traditional limits. In the Mouse, as in everything Walt Disney did, control and passion, down to earthiness and imagination were juggled: Mickey is heroic and, yet, according to Disney, only a little fellow doing the best he can. Mickey joins the extremes of power and fragility, nobility and prosaicness, excellence and neediness. Before personifying Walt Disney’s temperament, behavior, or even ideals, Mickey embodies Disney’s love of extremes. A talking mouse reveals inspiration from nature and from artifice.

Disney: Coherence and Moral Nature

Disney's speech "The Story of Mickey Mouse"also discloses Disney’s moral nature in his simultaneity of originality and coherence. In the days when cartoon figures were nothing but excuses for comedic situations, Disney ran against the current (“Instead of speeding the cartoons as was then the fashion, we were not afraid to slow down the tempo and let Mickey emote”) and preserved the Mouse’s integrity, respecting and obliging the goodness his character came to represent to people. Disney says: “Mickey had reached the stage where we had to be very careful with what we permitted him to do, he had become a hero in the eyes of his audiences, specially the youngsters. Mickey could do no wrong. I could never attribute any meanness, or callous traits to him.”
Mickey is then Walt’s givingness.

Disney: Soul over Matter

With Mickey, Walt fought for the assertion of personality, of human content, in something designated for pure entertainment. Heart had to be hand in hand with joy. Disney created Mickey as a “distinct individual”, establishing, through his creature, the ascendancy of personality over contingency, like soul over matter. For, always kept “in character”, Mickey could be recognized by audiences, in Disney’s words, “as a personage, motivated by character, instead of situations”.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Titanic and Humble

Speaking about Mickey, Disney, titanic and humble at the same time, reveals his own integrity in rendering the great and the small inextricably: He compares the endlessness of inspiration the Mouse was for the public in all levels (“I often find myself surprised with what has been said about our redoubtable little Mickey, who was never really a mouse, nor yet wholly a man, although always recognizably human, I hope. Psychoanalysis has probed him, wise men of critical inclination have pondered him, admirers have saluted him in extravagant terms. The League of Nations gave him a special medal as a symbol of international good will.”) to the humbleness of purpose in the creation of the character (“But all we ever intended for him and expected of him was that he should continue to make people everywhere chuckle with him and at him, we didn’t burden him with any social symbolism, we made him no mouth piece for frustration or harsh satire. Mickey was simply a little personality assigned to the purposes of laughter”).

Friday, December 26, 2008

Ruling Love

Genuine prayers concern gratefulness, rather than neediness. Disney’s speech on the occasion of Mickey’s twentieth birthday is a prayer (CD Disney Treasures- "The Story of Mickey Mouse", 13 October 1948). In it, a passionate Disney pays tribute to Mickey, to life, to the public that welcomed Mickey, to his team and to his own fight in the superhuman effort he had to make in “the early days” to bring the mouse to the eye of the public. As a merging of self-conviction, gratefulness and love of humanity, this speech is a great revelation of Disney’s soul. Self- referential and deferring at the same time, it expresses assertiveness in abandonment, it is confession and pronouncement, love-giving and decree-passing.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Everlasting Disney

I hope we don't loose sight of one thing- There was a man that
Had the Socratic power of bringing the best, talent wse, out of people.
Described his role as that of a bee taking ollen from place to place so as to make them flourish, a self-description very i much n the line of socrates' "midwife"
Had the guts to be free.
Could provide the flight of abandonment along with the discipline of order, a Dad like support and a maternal giving of fun.
Had the innocence for being carried away, and, yet, the hardship for an iron determination.
Was always self-renewing, like the sea.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Disney Spirit

Walt Disney spent his life fighting finitude, that is, asserting soul. Nothing in Disney animation is contingent, because it orbits around personality in story development. This establishing personality over the laws of physics, logic or mere randomness, is, again, a proclaiming of soul over matter. Disney was pledged to life in such a way that, like a pure spirit, he refused, in all senses, to accept its limits. His reinvention of life in animation, going hand in hand with his assertion of personality, represents life over reality: a metaphor of eternal life. It created Disney freedom, endlessness of possibility, humor and fantasy.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Absolute Giver

It seems to me that there are roughly two opposite ways of interpreting Walt Disney: either as someone who was controlling and, to a vast extent, able to manipulate the audience’s psyche, or someone who was driven to transmit the liberation of his own passion. The first case concerns a Disney that practically schemes to please people, and the second, someone who is, before anything else, measuring up to and carried away by himself. To put it in even rougher terms, the first case concerns a taker, or, at best, a trader, and the second, a giver. Considering Walt Disney an absolute giver, I wanted, in my text, to preserve the immediacy of passion, the distance of reflection, and the puerility of homage- paying. If this is ambitions, the reason is humble: I don't believe anything can be complete without the author's personal involvement with it.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Walt Disney's Birthday!

It is generally said that heroes look death in the eyes. Walt Disney looked life in the eyes, which is equally heroic. The courage he had to take turning point decisions for the sake of his integrity is as reassuring as a written proof of the existence of the soul. Disney gave up material security for the abstract value of a relationship with himself. He declares:
“I had made my declaration of Independence, I traded security for self- respect”(American Cinematographer 1941).