Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Disney Everliving

     Once, talking about Walt Disney, a Disney fan told me that it takes the Walt Disney family and people like me to keep the spark alive, for only the baby boomers remember and miss him. He is right insofar as  the baby boomers' favorite "uncle", that figure of righteousness and family stability, is something of the Fifties and Sixties. In the days of the cold war, Americans needed more than ever to be reassured of basic American values. But my Disney fan friend is not right, when it comes to the essence of Walt Disney. And with this, I don't mean the company logo, or the ongoing Disney creations, but of a man whose discoveries and inventions keep on influencing the world of today, in education, art and in the very relationship with technology. The latter is, in a typical Disney way, more playful all the time. As for education and art, Walt Disney, with the storytelling rides of Disneyland, invented contemplative interaction, something that regards not just art, but a profound, elemental form of education (I will be talking about it in the following posts).

    Walt Disney is Everliving also as a man  whose integrity, courage and rebelliousness to convention are,  at this day and age, when people are looking more than ever for a sense of meaning, spiritual reassurance and the myriad ways of searching their true self, an existential and mystical inspiration.  

Monday, December 28, 2009

Walt Disney's Delicacy and Strenght

     Disney's creation transmits not just sweetness, but its side of immensity. 
The same happens with miniatures and the small to scale. 

     Walt could see the immensity of the small, that which allows us to stare at with playfulness and, yet, the omnipotent contemplation of a god; with the imagination that creates endless worlds to happen in it.
Walt Disney's delicacy of spirit was his strenght!

     Couldn't we say that sweetness is the strenght of affection, of that which is intimate, invisible and, of course, delicate?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Disney Revelation

      Pierre Lambert ( "Il Etait Une Fois Walt Disney") says that in Walt Disney's instructions for Bambi, he said that fantasy would come out of the young deer, just like with the young child who peppers his parents with questions. Walt Disney knew that fantasy was like seeing things for the first time, new and unstained by habit, prejudice or mere rationality,  because he himself never lost the awe children discover the world with!  To see things with the purity of being so disarmed reveals, in them,  the very miracle of their coming into being!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Xmas with Walt Disney

     Walt Disney had influence over many people indiscriminately. Religious leaders affect determinate geographic areas, the same for political heads, dividing the world. But Disney went everywhere, homogenizing all kinds of people, with no indoctrination and no fighting. 
Calling him The Greatest Showman, The Movie maker etc doesn't measure up. Being such a unique case, Walt Disney can pull off his own name as a title: The Great Disney.

     To see him by the Xmas tree makes one feel like the whole world turned into a Xmas present!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Conclusion of A Disney Story

As I thought that, the declaration of the lady in the store, “I love him in this picture” came back to me, as a similar way of feeling. 
     Walt Disney was “hers”, but was also beyond her, just like ….. And it occurred to me, just like Main Street USA and all of Disney’s settings. They all have that peculiar quality of making one feel like being an integral part of and, yet, protective of them.
     Reading the biography I bought led me to all the others that have been written of Disney, as well as to many related books of Disney creation and Disney team,  in something that has turned into a endless trip of fascination and discovery.  In one of those texts, I learned that, for Lady and the Tramp, Walt Disney gave instructions that the view of the little town that the two enamored dogs have from above should be attractive as a place to be in as well as to be looked at, from that distance. Just like I felt in relation to Main Street USA, wanting to be its character and spectator at the same time.
     In fact, Disney creation in general arouses an exchange of warmth with the public; a physical and emotional drive from one, like the wish to touch and a heart concern,  simultaneously. It certainly reflects not just Walt Disney’s personality, in the bounding he had with the physical world of nature, but in his positive view of people and in the interaction he had with his audience.  Just like what was transmitted with:
     “ I love him in this picture!”

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Second Segment of Disney Xmas Story

 “ Should I buy the book or not?” I was still asking myself, when two ladies, seeming to be in their fifties, approached the stand.
    They looked very composed, like two English ladies about to have their five o’clock tea, and were obviously good friends,  sharing the Disney passion. While I was there pathetically indecisive, one of them spotted a reproduction of a photograph that shows young Disney by an entrance, probably of his office, on the side of a wall on which a shadow of Mickey Mouse is projected. A copy of this same picture was imprinted on the cover of the biography I was carrying. 
      The lady picked it up from the stand and, showing it to her friend, said:
     “I love him in this picture!”
    For some reason I didn’t know, I felt, in that moment, as close to her as I would to a best friend.
     She talked with knowledge of cause and the intimate but yet respectful warmth of a mother, who is protective and proud of her son at the same time. It made me guess that she and her friend knew all the photos of Disney available to the public. They probably knew, also, all the facts of his life. What was I waiting for to buy the book?
   Approaching the counter, I purchased it and made my way out of the park. Exhausted, but already nostalgic of the reality I was leaving behind, I, like always, affectionately looked at the buildings of Main Street USA, as if, in my mental good-bye, I could retain something of them inside me. I was wondering about what makes everything in that street feel, more than welcoming, so familiar and yet so revealing, as if  worthy of respect and intimacy at the same time, making you want to play with it, like one plays with one’s favorite, oldest toy,  but also take care of it, like one takes of a little animal, and even beyond: pay homage to it!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Disney Xmas Story: "I love him in this Picture"

       I will post in three or four segments, a true story I've written of a precious Disney memory that changed my life and helped me finding my real roots and, with them, my identity. Here it goes:

      I was very young then, and, after a full day playing in the rides at WDW, I found myself at a store that sold books, photographs and other Disney merchandise. I must confess that I didn’t know a lot about Walt Disney other than I loved him for everything he brought to fruition, and for a few uplifting declarations of his that I’d seen printed here and there. 
   Biographies are not my favorite gender in literature, but, realizing it was time I learned something about the man who provided so much joy, fantasy, and,  in my particular case and I guess many others, so much healing, I tentatively picked  “Walt Disney- An American Original” by Bob Thomas.  Ashamed to confess it now, I questioned myself, while leafing through,  whether that would be one more book gathering dust on my bedside table, with the many others that endlessly wait to be read,  if I came to pay for it.  Questions such “ Why get it? I don’t like biographies…. Don’t biographers always want to sound as if they know their subject better than the subject himself?” or “When have I managed to finish reading a biography?” or still “What about all the titles I keep trying to make time to read and never do?”
   Holding the book, I perused the store, giving myself more time to make up my mind. On a stand, I discovered several photographs of Walt Disney for sale, and since I didn’t even know very well what Walt looked like when he was young, started to examine them. More than Walt’s stylish, what they call “flashy” way of dressing, I was impressed with how much at ease he was with himself, with his intensely expressive, elegant but, yet, absolutely informal way.  He was certainly able to pull off whatever he put on for being so much himself, for naturally making his outfit an extension of his body and movements. (cont. on next posting)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Disney Awe


       Walt Disney has granted us a reality in which life is not only survival, but givingness, not just something to be paid for, but to be to be awed by.
      To be in awe is to experience the surrender to a higher degree of reality.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Disney Great and Disney Small

     Bruno Girveau wisely mentions (" Il Etait Une Fois Walt Disney"), that the castle (le chateau)  dominated the imaginary of Walt Disney's films, since the beginning, to the point of eventually becoming  "the nevralgic center of Disney parks, sharing, with Mickey, the honor of figuring the emblem of the Walt Disney co. 

      This tells us something more of Walt Disney as a man of extremes, someone that could see the immensity of the small (Mickey, miniatures, toys) and that of the great alike. A mouse and a castle: the prosaic and the noble; the domestic, kitchen-like  coexisting with the royal heights, both fraternalized by fantasy. But when we think that Mickey in his smallness has heroic greatness and that the castles of Disney parks are toy-like, we see, in Disney fantasy, the generosity saints have of loving the great and small alike, to the point of giving to both the same attributes.
    Can one conclude that the reality of fantasy, that which only  visionaries and poets have access to, was, with Disney, the love of absolute reconciliation, that which, paradise like, allows all opposites to complement, rather than oppose, one another, all conflicts to be resolved, and all "impossibilities" become miracles?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Disney's Rebirth

   Today, 43 years ago, Walt Disney entered the world of Pure Spirit, to become the agelessness and timelessness of eternal inspiration for all.
 In the magic way he transmitted the values of integrity, fight and faith, 
 the victory of good over evil, as well as those of 
fantasy and fan,  Disney was 

the greatest educator, 
symbolically father and mother to all. 
    To benefit from the message of Walt's integrity is to bridge this world of material existence and that of Spirit: to dethrone death.  
    For this, one can't be but grateful.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The "Prince of Laughter" and the Laughter of a Prince

   What follows was written on one of the 900 and some odd tributes Walt Disney received worldwide, displayed in the WDF Museum, and I transcribe it here for the fair, original and poetic title give to Disney:
"To Walt Disney, Prince of Laughter, in appreciation of the 25 years of making the world glow with heartwarming joy and introducing into our lives Mickey Mouse, DD and a host of other myrth provoking characters, we are ever grateful for your creative genius!"

My illustration of Disney (from the pic that is near the template of this blog) tries to transmit the "laughter" of a Prince, that is, that kind of joy only a chosen person can feel.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Endearing Disney

      The antropomorphism of animals dates to ancien Egypt. Then, they were deified.  In the 19th Century, we see masters such as Grandville, Beatrix Potter, Kley, notably Daumier and Dore (who illustrated the Fables of La Fontaine) humanizing animals in their respective styles, and are said to have influenced Walt Disney, who brought a lot from Europe.    Humanized animals however, only become endearing with Disney cuteness. For me, this trait resulted from the identification of toy, babyhood and animal nature. 
     I guess it is because in Walt Disney, playfulness, childhood and nature were at one.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Disney Charisma

      In "Talk with the Legends", at the WDF Museum, Richard Sherman said that when Walt assigned them a task, it became the most important thing in the world; all they wanted was to please Walt. But Walt wanted to hear their opinions because he wanted them to also please themselves with what they did. Richard remarked that people in general overlook this generosity. One then concludes that the inspiration Walt gave them was courage: the right to be themselves. This quality Walt Disney had  of making one feel reassured, strong and at the same time supported; this power of transmitting courage and conviction I guess, that is what charisma is. 

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Walt Disney's Arrival!

Thanks for this day Walt was born! Visiting the WDF Museum again, I came to the conclusion that Walt's genius had much to do with Walt's gratitude to life: his capacity to make the most of everything that came his way, eventually re creating it. Note, for instance, the clock of Strasbourgh he discovered in France when he was still an adolescent, and its reappearance on "Its a Small World"!
Creativity makes the best of what life puts along one's path, be it beauty or suffering. Aside from the gratefulness to life of creativity in general, Walt's gratefulness was a profound and yet spontaneous coexistence with the Good! 

He saw the good in everything because he had it inside and alongside his life of struggle. He knew what forgiveness was and he knew how to forgive. He knew there was a world of Xmas beauty inside a Xmas tree and that this world can be destroyed inadvertently by 2 chipmonks but, yet, ressurrected in the forgiveness Mickey grants the two little animals. Ressurrected in that kind of love that is above everything!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Disney Messenger of the Gods

 Walt Disney was said to be "mercurial".
How can someone have integrity, be in synch with life, if life, for the creative person, is always a source of surprise, that is, is "mercurial" itself?

Mercury is the Roman name for the greek god Hermes, the messenger of the gods. He had to be everywhere, as fast as he could, to carry the Olympian designs. That is the way Disney acted too, bringing to fruition heavenly designs.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Disney Charm

     Another reason Oscar Wilde valued "style" so much, I think,  is because "style", like charm, is what gives one coherence and yet lightness, seriousness but also humor. It puts, Walt Disney-like,

and fun together. Like the informality of positions and movements we see in many pics of Disney pre "uncle Walt",  like his at easiness in being himself, in turning, whatever he was wearing, into an extension of his own being; like in the rich, seemingly endless spontaneity of his expressions, like in his power of being constant surprise and constantly surprised, charm, in the manner of a work of art,  has the effect of a redeeming intensity.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Mickey Disney

     When one's older kid goes back to college, one's dog wants to be left alone, one's husband is busy etc, it is Mickey one can clutch. Like a security blanket; a symbol of support, or even of unconditional love, Mickey is the one that either is, or should be, always there. Mickey is, beyond Disney's reaching of the human heart, his offering it his healing hand.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Disney Thanksgiving

     Walt DIsney was a pioneer, he invented a world practically from scratch. He had, in common with the pioneers, the assertion of freedom. Freedom is conviction, for only when one is sure of oneself, one is in touch with an inner truth, with what is not subject to to the relativity of reality and prevents one's path from becoming, like in a pinball game, a mere result of external pressures. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Disney Mystery

The French showed Walt Disney was a unique
unique type of artist (Il etait une Fois Walt Disney). When we think that other than inventing animation as an art form, his intensity emcompassed dancing (hands, expression and movement seem to move to the sound of music, as one can see in the photo that gave origin to this sketch), storytelling, impersonating, reaching the human heart and inspirational leading!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Disney Art

Using the eraser a million times in trying to sketch Walt Disney, I remembered my mother, who was an artist, not wanting us to use erasers, saying that the drawings of Picasso expressed the courage and certainty of the clean, eraseless lines, done, she thought, in one goal. Such great artist's conviction was what Walt Disney who, before anything was an artist of life, of being himself, expressed in leading.
    I must say that sad Walt Disney is as sincere and lovable as Disney characters!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Disney Mickey

"Mickey Mouse means, to me, a symbol of independence." Walt Disney. 

Congratulations Mickey!
Disney fans should listen to Disney's speech, "The Story of Mickey Mouse", dating from the 20th Bday of the Mouse. Our world needs that force the Mouse had as a "symbol of international good will".  That might finally put "Greeks and Trojans" hand in hand, after all, this is a small world, or better :  "It is a small world after all....."

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Disney Love and Heartbeat

     Reviewing a part of Snow White, I was, again, struck by how delicately it flows! You feel it unfolding inside you and before your eyes at the same time. The rithym of classical Disney animation was as emotional as one's heart loving, and as organic as one's heartbeat!
Looking at the informality of Walt's climbing the fence and at his fluid freedom of movement in the prior to "Uncle Walt"s pics of his, one can see that Disney's rithym was in total sync with the heart inside him and the world around, as if both echoed the sound of the same melody!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Disney Hand and Heart

          Disney's hands have often been remarked.
         I drew this from a photo that shows his whole being taking part in what he was expressing, the hands kind of sculpting the air, making even the atmosphere around him a part of his heart too!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Disney Paradox

 Hope takes audacity (Obama) but yet, a clean heart. For it is the wisest innocence. 

When mapping Epcot on the ceiling over his death bed, 
Walt Disney had the wisdom of not believing in death. Can one live with dignity without being pledged to life? Without vowing for it even as it ends? Without seeing its eternity?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Disney Shamanism

     Some primitive tribes believed, like the Bible, that the word created being. More precisely, their own myths, or stories.  Storytelling that created a world. Their shammans were storytellers and healers. Does this sound familiar? Like with them, Disney storytelling has always been healing, and it created Disneyland. Maybe the primitive side of Walt Disney, that which was complementary to his technological being, had intuitive shammanic power!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Disney Grace

  Dumbo shows that work for work's sake is a mistake. When Dumbo is cast as a clown, he doesn't make it. On the other hand, real work, that for which one is gifted and special is liberating. In Dumbo it is literally liberating, from gravity and from the tyranny of people. Disney constantly approaches the theme of liberation. When Mr Banks is fired in Mary Poppins, he first appears to go mad, eventually expressing that madness as an overcoming of his old enslavement to duty and poetic "blindness".  One could say that Dumbo's flight is the liberation of grace, as much as Mr Banks' joy, singing and adopting the "ridiculous" "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious". From then on, everything in the Banks family will be in harmony.  Snow White reaches a state of grace, when liberated from her fear in the forest. From then on, she is trusting forces that are beyond her, and nature starts conspiring in her favor. Liberation is overcoming an old self and resurrecting in a new one,  like it is literally shown in Pinocchio. One wonders how deeply Walt Disney experienced liberation, having to change and overcome himself so many times in his life; how often he was in grace!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Disney Coherence

 To choose the flight of fantasy over the grounding of cynicism,   
 To vow for happy endings in spite of reality,

 To commit to joy before the crudity of life,
 To believe against all odds
 To map a city of tomorrow on the ceiling of one's death,
 To make life absolute in the face of finitude,
concern the  beauty of dignity; the harmony of coherence.
       Disney's unyielding faith was Disney's style: his demand of perfection from himself.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Disney Universal Maternity

     Dumbo is generally considered a "coming of age" movie. In fact, the theme "coming of age" has been reported not just to be a constant in Walt Disney movies, but to have intricate connections with  Disney's life. Whether this interpretation is true or not, I think that maternity is even prior, as a theme,   in Disney classic animation. For, even though biological maternity is developed only in Dumbo and Bambi, what I would call universal maternity, that bond of sweetness, completness and protection with the young, cuddly and innocent is so pervasive in the other Disney movies that the audience itself feels maternal towards the cute characters. From the very beginning, Dumbo  is a hymn to literal maternity. The delivery of baby Dumbo shows mother elephant behaving so feminine and yet loving, that she bends her big leg, Minnie Mouse like, when identified by the others to the stock. From then on, the love between she and Dumbo is wittily and pungently shown, in a diversity of trivial and yet totally poetic scenes, like his splashing in the water while being bathed by Mom, or his being rocked on the trunk she  ingeniously turns into a swing, from behind her cell. Dumbo is a constant alternation between extreme drama and the extreme, pure, complete happiness of maternal love. After the little elephant becomes famous and important, it is his mother that is honored, as she sits in the VIP wagon of the train while her son hovers above. The very final scene is nothing more and nothing less than a culminating depiction of the intensity of their union: Dumbo's ears, like toddlers' little arms, embraces Mom as he descends over her from his flight.  One can then can assume that what is really happy in that ending is, more than the  little elephant's success, the love of such reencounter.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Disney Animation


     Disney could make fantasy visible with the help of technology because he believed in fairy tales and in the ascendancy of life over everything. Disney animation is giving the autonomy of life to fantasy and the timelessness of fantasy to life.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Extreme Disney

      Walt Disney's courage was his intensity to make all of the moments of his life extreme moments, to give himself fully to life and to be disarmed to receive life: to respect life's integrity with his own integrity.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Disney Celebration

When one reflects on Walt Disney's life and personality, one is led to think that courage, after all, is integrity: it is the living of one's entirety, in the entirety of the moment one is living. It is this synchrony; this communion of soul and world, heart and moment, this celebration! It is not being split between considerations with the future and residues from the past.
    That is why Art Linkletter described Disney so well, when saying that he jumped the abyss and invented the wings on the way down.

    Courage is the necessary innocence, the disarmed nakedness Disney had for  being constantly born anew.  Synchrony, communion and celebration!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Disney Meaning

Walt Disney was a man of extremes. He was said to have one foot in the past and another in the future; he joined artifice to nature, technology to fantasy, unpredictability to planning, passion to control. This power of wedding extremes result from his ongoing quest of fighting finitude: asserting soul. Finitude, after all, is  drastic enough of a time limitation to not permit the coexistence of polarities, or to make such coexistence "illogic". Not with Disney. He knew how to overcome finitude and keep extremes reconciled in a meaningful whole. Orbiting around personality in story development, nothing in Disney animation is gratuitous, or "souless": The physical, visible side of it, is at one with the invisibility of pure making sense.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Walt Disney World, Life and Faith

 Animation is giving life. But it is also making fantasy visible. The suspension of logic and the laws of physics in animation is what permits everything in it to make sense, what turns this communion of fantasy and life into pure meaning.  Walt Disney gave visibility to meaning, to that which is abstract and beyond proof, that which   exists  as a function of faith. As a world of pure meaning, the world of animation coincides with that of faith. Disney animation is the visibility of faith, a metaphor of it. No wonder, it  has been said that for Walt Disney animation was a religion. Like a religion, it was the expression of his own faith.  Walt Disney gave life because he saw life as meaning, as faith.  His giving  lifeis his giving the joy, colors and freedom of faith.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Disney Secret

When Walt Disney answered to the question whether he was an optimist, that he was an optimal behaviorist,  he explained that he always acted to his optimal capacity. In other words, his optimism was conquered, it was the result of discipline. Disney's unyielding faith might as well be the result of discipline. The Disney secret to be always upbeat in the face of lack of money and of people's lack of  faith in his projects, certainly has  to do with dignity.

When Oscar Wilde said that in matters of importance it is style that counts he knew, as the aesthete that he was, that only style requires the necessary discipline to avoid unbecoming or undignified behavior. To loose faith, to be a pessimist, is, before anything else, unbecoming. It turns one into a whiner and a defeatist. There is nothing more undignified than to go on living and, yet, to see in life nothing more than predictions for defeat. One has to keep faith in order to be coherent with one's wish to continue living. In order to not be unbecoming. If this is a matter of coherence, it is also a matter of style: to keep one's dignity is beautiful.
Walt Disney was a lover of beauty; he was a perfectionist. Disney's unyielding faith corresponds to his demand of perfection from himself.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Richard Sherman: Walt Disney World and Soul

After meeting and hearing Richard Sherman at D23, I thought that as much as the world of Walt Disney is touchable and visible fantasy, it is equally the untouchable and invisible intensity of soul. People like Dick Sherman transmit this intensity in creating and when talking about Walt. Watching the movie "The Boys", I learned of The Sherman Brother's influence on American musicals, and the Brother's creative process, the way they came to the union of words and musical notes seemed as natural as if it had been first rehearsed in heaven. Coming to think of musicals, it occurred to me, that aside from Disney's mixing animation with live action in Mary Poppins, animation, in its essence, has all to do with musicals. Both liberate movement and sound from transiency and transform it in pure meaning. While in animation, action, synchronized with sound, overcomes the laws of physics in order to oblige the pure expressiveness of story and unfolding of personality, musicals transform dialogue into the expressiveness of melody and movement into dance. Both cases equally make passages of sound and movement value in themselves, beyond being just transitions to what will follow. Both cases liberate sound and movement from the utilitarian character of causality. Both cases make something that happens in a time sequence be, somehow, freed from time passing. Walt Disney inaugurated a visible and sensory dimension to fantasy, by transmitting the invisibility of soul. He tied the unreality of magic to our vision and touch, by setting free the reality of spirit.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

From Mars to Marceline

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Disney Story

Since I bought the biography Neal Gabler wrote of Disney, I've been mystified by Walt's picture on its cover. I'd had never seen it before, and many times wondered how undefinable Walt's expression is in this young photo of his. It transmits sweetness, but goes much beyond. In fact, I think it is as enigmatic and involving as that of the Mona Lisa. I've already compared Disney to Socrates (in the power both had of bringing the best, talent wise, out of people) and the parallel with the Mona Lisa is not one of features' similarity, but of inner life's intensity. I also used to wonder how guarded the original picture of Gabler's book cover should be, since one doesn't see it published anywhere else.
When I was coming back from Brazil this last February, after visiting my mother, who was very sick, I had the book with me and, before closing my eyes for a nap, exhausted in that last leg of flying, I inadvertently looked at its cover on the front seat's pocket. For the first time, Walt's expression transmitted to me the same kind of healing I felt when seeing Sleeping Beauty for the first time I went to the movies. As a five year old child then, I'd been constantly suffering in the nightmarish nun school I was sent to, having my parents away for two years in Europe. Life wasn't easy, but on that multicolored, more convincing than reality movie screen, the prince had battled the dragon and put an end to evil. Love prevailed, after all.
Back to last February, as I closed my eyes, feeling somehow elevated by Walt Disney's expression, I had a vision of my mother's face, with her eyes closed, in nirvana-like peace. I was sure she had passed for the better then, and looked at my watch to check the time. As I arrived, a phone call from my brother confirmed our mother had passed at that exact time. The photo of Walt Disney became charged with a positive, transcendent meaning to me. One can imagine my surprise when, strolling down the collectors' forum at D23, I stumbled upon it! It had on the bottom a dedication to Kay Kamen, and it was for sale! Now it is on my wall.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Disney Essence

Continuing my reflection about "The Evolution of Mickey", one could see, in all the stages of the Mouse, he was always Mickey. That made me remember what I said in "From Mars to Marceline", about making progress and preserving essence. If with progress, essence is destroyed, the whole edifice will collapse. In this case, there is something that was always kept throughout Mickey's transformations, something that made him remain Mickey.
Among other qualities, Disney, in the same way he was said to have one foot in the past and the other in the future, had the power to preserve identity in constant mutability. There is something, other than quality, that makes "Sleeping Beauty" and "Snow White", in their totally different styles, be, yet, Disney. Some would probably say it is the "Disney Touch", but that is the same as to say it is pixel fairy dust: Is there anything more undefinable than the "Disney Touch"?
It may be more revealing to say it has to do with Walt's integrity: at the same time Walt Disney was constant self-reinvention, he was always himself.
Integrity is some sort of faithfulness to that which is always there, incorruptible by the constant distortion, deterioration and de-characterization that results from the chain of mutability.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Andreas Deja and Disney Freedom

The presentation of "The Evolution of Mickey" at D23 was truly Disney: it had intensity, fun and seriousness. Andreas Deja was artistically acrobatic in drawing several stages of Mickey, as David Pacheco posed to him, with grace and flexibility and humor, in Mickey's attire (no Mouse's head, and shades in the place of Mickey's eyes). It was great how they fully explained Mickey's evolution paralleling the current trends in art, design, architecture and decoration throughout the decades. True to form, Deja gave us a glimpse of the Disney freedom, that inventiveness that makes its own rules even if it has to break with established ones: he revealed that the face of Mickey, when seen frontally, had to "cheat" the laws of perspective, so that the Mouse could still retain its witty expression. First, Deja drew Mickey obliging those laws and pointed to the audience the fact that the Mouse's snout would cover his eyes and make him look dummy. Everybody agreed. Then, to the relief of all, the animator drew the perspective-cheating Mickey and there was everybody's beloved, "cheating" for honesty, or for the sake of being fully himself, Mickey! Only Disney can inaugurate its own laws, and only a talent like Deja can beautifully play with them, showing that expertise does not need to rely on academic tradition!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Individualist Walt Disney

Not that I ever believed that Walt was a racist, or a mysogenist, or anything of the kind. But it is still beautiful to confirm that against and above any such classifications; beyond gender, age, color, race and class, Walt Disney was an individualist.
Besides telling the amazing story of the Sherman Brother's partnership, the movie "The Boys", that I just watched at the D23 Big Expo- an excellent, passionate movie, by the way- made me conclude that Walt's individualism was his incredible perception and appreciation of talent. Talent is the strongest seal of an individual, for, even if more than one person have talent for the same thing, it is still totally different the way it will be expressed by each. Talent is the quintessence of individuality, it is not just what will make someone so special, but what will make that person so much him/herself. It is the highest form of individuation. The movie "The Boys" shows how Dick and Bob Sherman could not get on as persons, but were in total communion when it came to their creative partnership. It also tells how Walt fostered that partnership and how the brothers, being so different from each other and, in so many things at odds, loved Walt personally. It shows the amazing power of Disney to make people overcome all the contingent labels of individuality (temperament, personal tendencies and tastes, way of reacting) to reach the real, genuine, most profound expression of it: creativity. It showed the power of Disney to make people overcome themselves.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Expressionist Walt Disney

The French Exhibition "Il Etait Une Fois Walt Disney" showed how Disney was supposedly influenced by the German Expressionist movies, like Dr. Faust and the like. It was mainly remarked the use of character's shadows, elongated and creepy, suggesting the action, without the character being visible, like, for instance, in "The Sorcerer Apprentice". Watching again "Plane Crazy", I realized that Disney was expressionist much before that time; much before he had the opportunity to be influenced by the German cinematic expressionism. The part that Minnie's mouth, screaming in fear, occupies the whole screen is not just expressionist- bringing to mind "The Scream", by E Munch, in its vibrating environment emphasizing the screaming open whole on the figure's face- but utterly modern in the way the close-up, like in contemporary films, aims at putting the viewer practically inside the action, in this case, almost inside Minnie's body, or fear. Becoming bigger and bigger, her screaming mouth gets closer and closer until nothing but the darkness of its whole is seen, putting the viewer before a shapeless depiction of Minnie's inner body as if he, figuratively, has become a part of it. Expressionism concerns a certain use of caricature for dramatic and tragic, rather than comic ends. Always a man of extremes, always putting opposites together, Disney managed to use expressionism in humorist contexts, and to mix it with cuteness as well. In Plane Crazy, Minnie's scream of horror happens in between cute and funny scenes, turning, because of that, cute in itself, whereas in Snow White, another good example, the sentencing shadow of the murderous hunter is projected by the round, endearing little bird the princess is helping, followed by the close-up of the trembling sacrificial knife, that is succeeded, on its turn, by the round, doll like face of Snow White in fear.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Disney Miracle

When I first saw Mary Poppins, I felt blessed with the most reassuring, magic and dazzling revelation: the total entering of real people into the animated world. But no matter how fantastic, this revelation felt, yet, like something already expected. It even felt like something I could take for granted, despite knowing it would not happen in the real world.
That flesh and blood people, becoming part of a story, could also become part of the animated world was Disney coming full circle from Alice in Cartoonland. It expressed the Disney essence in its core. An essence that is akin to miracle in its power to be viscerally familiar- like an otherworldly reminiscence- and, yet, endless awe. For, what is miracle if not the revelation of the most secretly taken for granted reality? A glimpse of the promised paradise?
A Disney miracle reconciles the reassurance of visceral familiarity with the wonder of awe-striking novelty. Walt Disney touched the universal heart because he, angel like, gave us what we didn't know we'd been so fully expecting.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Disney Decency

As I read once more the life of Walt Disney, I realize that what is often interpreted as Walt's ego was Walt's decency; his decency to believe in himself, to fight, with his head up, against a world that, for all accounts, was clearly against him. In searching for excellence, Walt Disney's fight had the decency of being, first of all, a fight with himself: the unforgiving effort of constant self-overcoming.
Disney's weapons weren't those of aggression or mere assertion over enemies, but that of demanding from himself and, as a consequence, giving the world around him the only genuine way of measuring-up to oneself: impeccability. His demand of excellence to his product, much beyond being a mere gimmick to beat the market, or a conceited wish to be "the king of animation"(Gabler) reflected the dignity, the humbleness and the generosity of only giving one's best. For, as everyone knows, Disney was harder on himself than he was on his team.
Disney fight was the eternal and unforgiving effort that is needed to keep one's heart clean.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Disney and Disney

I've received messages from people from different countries saying that no matter how much they liked Disney, they became "followers", after reading Walt Disney's life. I had that experience myself. I used to think that the person of Walt Disney is the completing half of his creativity, but the more I think about his life (as told by different biographers) the more I find the beauty of his personality and example surpasses even that of his immense creativity and legacy. The person of Walt Disney is passionate and even more passionable (here I invent a word, that in Portuguese reads "apaixonante") than his legacy. It is more or less what I said, when talking of the Mouse: "The world recognition won by Mickey is not greater than the integrity of Disney, at every step of the fight he survived, to bring this character to the eye of the public". Disney entertainment is fun and healing, but the person of Walt Disney is utterly inspirational, especially at this day and age, when one thirsts for faith. The making of the WDF Museum is, more than timely, blissful. How can one thank the WDF Foundation enough?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Disney in Brazil

I am in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, until Wednesday. I've been introduced to Leandro Hassum, a great TV and theater comedian, and, above it all, a Disney geek. He's been to Disney world dozens of times and is planning to take a group there, calling the program "In Disney with uncle Montenaro" the uncle being himself.
Disney is present everywhere in this country. Other than Disney magic, I guess it offers the softness of industrialized primitiveness, in the fundamental physicality and animal nature of Disney creations, to a place in which primitiveness is roughness, immediacy and irregularity. Like with Walt Disney himself, Disney creations bridge the elemental and the artificial, granting a childlike, dreamy, affectionately physical, and yet civilized way of reverting to that which is immediate and instinctive. Only here I finally found a small plastic Thumper, a character that, as old as he is, was never surpassed i insofar as cuteness and power of arousing maternal affection.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Disney Soul over Matter

With Mickey, Walt Disney asserted personality over the laws of physics and matter, like a metaphor of soul over matter. Disney made a hero out of the most insignificant, unwanted mammal. But Mickey's real heroism is fulfilling Walt's assertion of personality.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I hope we don't loose Sight of a Man....

Walt Disney, after visitation time, arrives at the hospital where his brother Roy recovers from a relapse of TB. Walt climbs in and begs his brother to go into business with him, vehemently showing the letter in which Margaret Winkler offers him a deal for the Alice series. Roy leaves the hospital, to never suffer from TB again. If this isn't short of a miracle, it is because it is already miracle. Alternated with this scene, Roy, years later, appears answering why he devoted his life to help his brother. He says Walt was irresistible and one simply wanted to help him. What must have been irresistible was Walt's intensity and passion. Roy had genius to risk his health and life, in order to help Walt. He obviously bonded with Walt's geniality. It takes one to know .

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Virginia Davis and Disney Heaven

Like she knocked on the door of young Walt Disney's studio, Virginia Davis knocked on Heaven's door. She must have entered it like she entered the beautiful world of Disney, as it first started. A world for the pure and eternally young at heart. A world for those that can be fascinated with what they see, and yet see beyond it: see what is invisible for the eyes. I guess that is why Virginia, in her old age, could talk of Walt with the wisdom of the little child she once was:
"What a guy!" She says, in the DVD "The man Behind the Myth"

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Disney Beauty

2nd Epigraph: "One does not see anything until one sees its Beauty" - Oscar Wilde. Fantasy, for me, is giving shape to the omnipotence of Beauty over reality. Like Walt Disney did and, in so doing, brought so much goodness. Walt Disney was the communication between Beauty and Goodness.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Disney Duty

Mary Poppins talks for Walt, in her unique reconciling of duty and fun. She brought to the Banks' family rebelliousness and yet a lot of joy at doing their work. She showed that real duty comes from within and, as revolutionary as it is, breaking with, many times, the shallow, repetitive, label-like duty, it is the only one that brings forth creativity, and authenticity, that is, self-respect.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Disney Absoluteness

I put two declarations of Oscar Wilde as Epigraphs in "From Mars to Marceline", and here I will talk about the first:
"Everything to be true must become a religion"
Of course Wilde is not referring to organized religions of any sort. He is talking of religion as something one upholds above self, earthly concerns and everything that is relative, corruptible by time, gratuitously mutant.
Wilde is talking of religion as that which retains its sameness of value in spite of all the contingencies of life, something that remains absolute and is unconditionally loved. Like Walt Disney for Disney fans. Like the ongoing attempt to perpetuate his legacy by the Walt Disney Co, and his presence by the WDF.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Disney Real Reality

Some people think that Walt Disney has granted his audience with escape from reality. Others, like me, are sure he granted us a greater degree of reality, a reality in which life is not only survival, but givingness, not just something to be paid for, but to create with.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Powerful and Reverent Walt Disney

This last time I was in Disneyland I bought some tiny light boxes Disney themed. Staring at each one in particular, made me consider that the love Walt Disney had for miniatures has to do with the fact that before a tiny scene one feels all powerful and yet respectful; God like in relation to it and at the same time reverent of it.
A+ to the Disney industry on this one.