Walt Disney and East Germany: movies watched (#SFWApro)

Walt Disney’s FANTASIA (1940) shows his willingness to push the boundaries of animation, taking multiple pieces of classical music and using as the basis of a cartoon anthology. In various sequences we watch the rise and fall of the dinosaurs, Zeus ruining a good picnic, the evil Chernobog recoiling from the sounds of Ave Maria, Sorcerer’s Apprentice Mickey Mouse learning the perils of magical automation and dancing crocodiles abducting dancing hippos. Stylistically this ranges from the abstractions of Toccata and Fugue to the very Warner Brothers Dance of the Hours (the crocodile sequence) though I must I still associate the music itself with Allan Sherman’s (no relation) parody song “Hello Mudder, Hello Fadder.” Quality is similarly variable (the pastoral picnic sequence is waaay too cute), but overall high; dated a little by its reference to The Nutcracker as an obscure ballet nobody in the US would know and probably by having Bacchus hold a bacchanalia (just try getting away with that in a kids’ movie these days) but those are minor problems. Deserves it’s classic status. “I’d like you to meet—the soundtrack!”

Disney dreamed for years of a sequel to Fantasia and in 2000 the company released FANTASIA 2000 (2000), wherein flamingos play with yoyos, Mickey once again becomes the Sorcerer’s Apprentice (recycled from the previous film), nature recovers from a volcano, and New Yorkers cope with life in the Depression (the one I could most easily see as having been made back in the Golden Age). Good, if not as spectacular, and the use of the human speakers to introduce all the sequences seems to be hedging the studio’s bet. This version also included two 1950s ‘toons, Melody and Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom intented as part of an ongoing history of music series. “Did you know many of the musicians here only learned to play in the past two weeks?”51ij-8GwhCL._SY445_An East German surveillance expert gets involved in THE LIVES OF OTHERS (2006) when a powerful minister asks his department to look into a seemingly loyal and talented playwright (“He’s the only one who’s both read in the west and believes in our country.”) only to realize he’s supposed to frame the guy so the minister can move in on his mistress. On the one hand, it will go very badly for him if he doesn’t incriminate the playwright, on the other hand he knows doing so means he’s not the patriotic good guy he sees himself as. Solid script and fine acting makes this an excellent one; I’d suggest double-billing it with Gene Hackman’s surveillance expert in The Conversation or with Goodbye Lenin for a lighter perspective on the Communist era. “Vigorous acts of intimacy follow.”

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One response to “Walt Disney and East Germany: movies watched (#SFWApro)

  1. Pingback: Vampires, Fantasia and the Perfect Crime, plus Bond: movies watched (#SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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