June 03, 2008

Force the Sherman I: The Inception

Earlier this month I posted a blog asking you, the readers, to choose a genre, actor, director or any other manner of film-grouping for me to focus on in the month of June, giving you the rare opportunity to control what I reviewed, to hold the very reins of my movie-watching fate!

Well, the masses have spoken. And by masses, I mean the one person who responded. Victoria Easley of Rolla, Missouri wrote in and suggested films that are animated.

So, June shall be the Month of Animation!

I'll be reviewing the gamut of animated films: foreign, computer animated and old-school hand-drawings for the kids and adults alike.

Animation is the one style of film-making where the imagination is truly free to run rampant without the oppressive fists of the laws of physics and budget constraints in regards to special effects. Or the worry how the effects might look, be it too cheesy and fake or the risk that they may be dated in a few years time. With animation, the sky is the limit. This is why most animated films fall in the realm of fantasy and science fiction.

Yet with all this, there is something almost eerie in how accessible the characters are. The plots are often so outlandish that we just accept them without question. Many of the people I've spoken with have confessed that the most terrifying images from their childhood were that of animated films. Be it the wicked witch from ,“Sleeping Beauty,” the evil Queen from “Snow White,” or the mother's death in “Bambi.”

I cited all Disney films because, until the last few years, the name Disney was -- and in some cases, still is -- synonymous with animation. Early Disney had the uncanny ability to entertain children without talking down to them. They were not afraid to expose children to the roller coaster of emotions in life. In a way, they were entertaining children with one hand, placating them, while, with the other, they were getting them ready for the real world. There are people who do purposeful harm to others, some children do loose their mothers and jealousy can drive people to acts of madness. All while peppering in a nice little song here and there.

The latter is what caused the downfall of Disney, in a way. It got to a point where the songs were redundant, monotonous and only there because every Disney movie, by some unwritten (or at least unpublished) law, had to have at least three songs. Children, while often naive, are not stupid. They can tell, even if only it's subconsciously, when a song is there as filler and has no purpose for the mood or story.

Think I'm wrong? Show a child a newer Disney movie, followed by a classic, and see which one they enjoy more. See which one moves them, which one enraptures them the most.

I guess one could say the downfall of Disney would be their loss of faith in the children's intelligence. Of course there will be those who argue that Disney's business is booming, bigger than ever, and that their children don't seem to notice. You mean quite possibly one of the most ignorant and illiterate generations we've seen in a while? Of course the children are not going to notice a difference! No one exposes them to the old-school stuff!

Another argument one might use would be that the glorious second coming of animation is Pixar. Well, I'm sorry to say that, if that's your argument, you're an idiot. Oh don't get me wrong, Pixar is glorious. They have ushered in a new era of children's animation. However, Disney has nothing to do with those, except to distribute them. Animation-wise, story-wise, director-wise and song-wise (or the lack thereof) is all Pixar. In fact, most of Pixar's inspiration comes from Japanese animators such as Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata ("Princess Mononoke" and "Grave of the Fireflies," respectively).

I realize now that my essay on the glories of animation has turned into a rant about the downfall of Disney. When one starts to bitch about how a mighty business conglomerate has fallen, it's time to call it a wrap. So, in conclusion, this month will be full of nostalgia and discovery -- as much for you, I hope, as for me.

I'll be attempting to post two or three times a week, so check in periodically and see me write myself ragged.

Here we go... this oughta' be a blast.

Yours Until Hell Freezes Over,


1 comment:

Hershey said...

I win!

Okay, it was by default, but I really just don't care about that aspect.