Posted: April 16, 2003
Some random jottings, as my impressions and memories serve me:
"Pines of Rome"--I always considered this particular piece of music (I'm a die-hard classical music lover, by the way) as garish, overblown trash. But the Disney artists have done a very nice underwater story here that throws a refreshing new angle on the music. Even though I've always considered their mixing of computer animation and conventional cel animation uncomfortable at best, I came away liking this piece more than I did before.
"Pomp & Circumstance"--now you KNOW no one's going to smother memories of this, The Graduation March. Whoever gave Disney's artists the idea to do a Noah's-Ark story with Donald & Daisy in the "human" leads (I just don't accept the premise) should be tossed out on his/her can.
"Carnival of the Animals"--an unimaginative choice, much like "Peter & the Wolf" was nearly 60 years before. These are both abstract pieces of music, a "theatre-of-the-mind" type of experience. And the use of only one short movement--from the tail end of the piece--is inexplicable. There IS a somewhat engaging quality to the picture of five flamingos in their ballet bit, but it reinforces an overriding impressions I got from this whole film--that this was just a lark for the animators, a sideline project while they devoted their full passion to the regualr story-oriented features.
"Rhapsody in Blue"--Very nice use of Al Hirschfeld-style characters; the lead players (i.e., the ones who end up jamming at night) are all endearing. This piece has been with me since childhood, and nothing could ever efface the purely abstract experience of simply hearing it, but it's very entertaining.
"The Steadfast Tin Soldier"--a hackneyed, Saturday-morning type of story, one which does nothing to leave me with a better impression of the music (*which I'm unfamiliar with), and its computer graphics once again show how ill-at-ease the Disney artists could be with this.
Beethoven's "Fifth"--c'mon, are you kidding? This is as old hat as "Pomp & Circumstance"--it's been hammered into umpteen-many schoolkids in umpteen-many music appreciation classes that the music depicts death knocking at the door.
All in all, an off-putting experience. Let's all blame it on Michael Eisner and company, shall we? Better yet, let's abandon all plans for future additions to the original masterpiece of 60 years ago (Disney's own original plan). The original film's been critiqued and torn apart over the years, but many easily forget the blood, sweat and tears that went into it (read John Canemaker's book to know all about that).
And even though the Deems Taylor narrated sequences in the original are now laughed at, one can't help wondering how the obnoxious live-action contributions of Steve Martin, Bette Midler, Penn & Teller & co. will look 60 years from now.
14 of 23 people found this comment useful