Objectivity is overrated.

March 11th, 2011 § 0

Like a lot of American children, I was exposed to Disney films at an early age and have attached a lot of sentimental value to them. My love for them is deep enough that it has withstood most of the critical analysis I’ve grown to apply to most movies I watch; yeah, so most Disney movies are sexist, at times even unoriginal.  But the songs are so catchy! And they’re so easily likable!

I don’t think I could ever really be unbiased towards them.

I was exposed to Fantasia, however, in separate parts and sporadically throughout my childhood. I had seen the famous “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” multiple times, but I realized in the screening last Sunday that I hadn’t really been exposed to much else.

Basically, I didn’t like Fantasia very much. I do wonder if, perhaps, this opinion may have been changed had I grown up on it, but I unlike the Disney musicals I love so much, I like to think that I can see the movie a little more objectively.

My main issue was that the visuals essentially did not fit with the music, and were often a little simplistic. In the interpretation of the Nutcracker Suite, I was pretty unimpressed by the fairies, the swirls, and the flowers lighting in time to the music. That isn’t to say that the visuals weren’t objectively beautiful, since they were. But I couldn’t help but wonder if this was the best way to visually interpret the music. The animation didn’t seem to fully take nuance into account.

Okay, so obviously I’m not all that objective. Part of my dislike for Fantasia was that, having been really, really familiar with a lot of the music for a long time, there was no room for Fantasia’s visuals to fit into my own deeply held interpretations of the music.

This was more evident to me when we watched the Gershwin clip from Fantasia 2000 during class. I generally really like the clip; the drawing style, choice of color, and interpretation of the music were all really great. But in the back of my mind was this slight discomfort, and I’m beginning to think it’s because, again, I was being forced to see this piece of music differently than I had always seen and heard it.

It’s kind of like seeing a movie adaptation to a book you read over and over as a kid: “That is not how Gollum is supposed to look.” “Why did the Ministry of Magic take its decorating cues from 50s art deco?”

Okay for some reason all I could think of were fantasy movies. But like any other person, I’ll never be fully objective. And maybe part of the problem with Fantasia’s success was that, if one decides to reinterpret an already highly subjective medium like music through another subjective medium like animation, the result has to be exceptional. Of course the objective shouldn’t be to please everyone, but to work with as much nuance in order to fully realize the music. While I know I can’t look at Fantasia with a neutral eye, I do know that, as far as I could tell, it failed on that account.

PS: Also want to give a shout out to those little racist Chinese mushrooms. Keep on dancing!


February 21st, 2011 § 0

Maybe one day I’ll get to try this.