Last week I summarized Disney’s Mulan, in which I mentioned my annoyance in the way they chose to portray the love interest, Li Shang. Disney does not know how to animate pretty people.
To be fair, they’ve learned how to draw noses on women. So, you know, step up in the world.
I suppose the issue might be that expressions distort the face. I remember learning that clearly in my time at the photo studio — we would sometimes tell parents that it’s okay that the kid isn’t smiling in every picture. Smiles distort the face. They broaden the mouth, push the cheeks upwards, shrink the eyes. Pretty people look less pretty when their features are distorted. And that’s smiling. If you’re dealing with more negative emotions — anger, sadness, fear — they do all sorts of crazy things to the face. Unmarketable things.
In Atlantis, they solved this problem by making the hero what is officially known as “Adorkable”, giving him a full range of emotions, wild, erratic expressions, and a charming, bumbling personality — adorable, but totally a dork, so you just wanna hug him and tell him that you believe in him.
With Atlantis‘s Milo, as with many supporting and background characters, the trick is to give your characters iconic features that wild expressions can’t take away. Gigantic noses are very popular.
I will find any excuse to use this image.
I'd recognize these guys anywhere.
You can’t give pretty characters big noses though. You have to give pretty characters generic faces, with very little detail added, so that the viewer fills in the gaps and assumes that what they are looking at is pretty. Since animators can’t give these characters big expressions, the result is comparatively smaller facial expressions (obviously), but also less interesting characters characters to look at.
I'm looking at you, Shang, while you're looking at Mulan.
With that in mind, I decided to go ahead and see what I could draw. My models:
This is Dan. He had come straight from doing a show, in which he played a character named the Duchess. This is why he's wearing make-up. That isn't to say he doesn't normally wear make-up. But that's why he's wearing it at this particular moment.
My warm-up for drawing Dan.
James, who really needs to trim his beard.
Apparently I can't make my boyfriend look as cute as he is in real life? Should I write a blog about this?
Leandra actually emoted the best out of all of them. I could have probably just taken pictures of her and been satisfied.
My art: inconsistent in quality.
My plan was to take four basic emotions (later three) and take pictures of my models doing those emotions. The first was the simple, basic emotion. Then, the more exaggerated emotion.
Happy — ecstatic
Sad — depressed
Annoyed — Angry — Wrathful
Then, I would take what I had learned from observing them make these faces, and attempt to draw my own, pretty character, with exaggerated expressions.
Happiness is an odd emotion. Have you ever heard a song where someone is happy? Not drunk, not high, just happy? Are there any protagonists who are happy? No, people aren’t happy. People are trying to be happy.
So is Dan.
Yet we all know how look happy. We know what happy people look like. It doesn’t take very long to think of a time when we were happy.
It was before my girlfriend stuck a huge light in my face!
As I said earlier, smiling broadens your mouth, lifts your cheeks, and shrinks your eyes.
Leandra -- Happy
What is more happy than happy? How about ecstatic?
You can’t help but bring body language into bigger emotions. It’s as if the bigger the emotion, the more of yourself you need to use to express it.
Even if you just focus on the face, the change is remarkable — an even wider mouth, and your eyes seem to get bigger, not smaller. You just need to take it all in. The happy face was a pleasant picture, but this one! She’s excited! Doesn’t that make you want to be excited, too?
Sadness turned out to be difficult for anyone to portray.
My theory is that sadness is a more inward emotion than happiness or anger. My models neither confirmed nor denied this theory.
Generally when a character in a movie is sad, they sit quietly and stare off, at the ground or out the window, and just don’t express themselves a whole lot. Maybe they touch a wall. How does one exaggerate lack of expression?
Dan managed to figure it out. He turned the emotion so far inward it started coming back out again. He actually had to take a couple of minutes to calm down from showing it.
Turns out drawing super-sad people makes them look old.
Apparently I forgot about the part where you’re supposed to think, “What are they supposed to get out of this picture?” and emphasize it. How do you take a stuck-out lip and make it bigger?
But even Disney does it -- Mulan closes herself off, eyes cast down.
For this last family of emotions, we first tried — annoyance!
When I asked my models to look annoyed, their emotions ranged from mildly confused to disappointed.
No wait! Hahaha. Those are the pictures of them looking annoyed.
These are the pictures of them actually succeeding.
Once we managed to get that figured out, the next step was anger.
Dan expressed his anger by clenching his body.
Leandra looked rather disgusted with the whole thing.
And then from there, wrath, or the urge to hurt something because you’re so angry.
James looked oddly neutral at first...
...but it turned out body stance was a subtle, but important part of looking wrathful.
What have we learned from annoyance/anger/wrath? Stance. A lot of this emotion is simply wrenching your eyebrows together, staring at the object of your anger, and perhaps bugging your eyes or pickering/quirking your lips. A lot of emotions are expressed in that way. It really is body stance that sells this emotion. Leandra’s hands on her hips, James’ domineering, very important to looking angry.
So Have We Learned Anything?
This is the creatively-named Pretty, who has straight light hair because that's easiest to draw.
What makes someone look happy? Wider lips, broader cheeks, and shrunken eyes. And yet, she still looks like herself.
The bigger, riskier expression. Where are her fat lips, her upturned eyes? Does she still look like the same person?
Sad people stare at the ground.
But REALLY sad people broadcast it to the world -- stuck upper lip, tears rolling down the cheeks. Is this Pretty, or is this someone else?
It really is the stance that turns this from Confused to Annoyed. I don't know if you can tell, but her posture is straighter.
The lowered eyebrows, the raised shoulders -- this woman is P - I - S - S - E - D
Yes, it really is all about stance for angry emotions. She looks a lot like herself, and yet she looks like she's gunna shivabitch.
If someone like me, with only three months of actual drawing instruction, can telegraph a person’s emotions vividly, without distorting the features unrecognizably, why can’t a professional animator?
Note the smoky background
Mulan is a Disney-animated feature film that came out in 1998, directed by Tony Bancroft and Barry Cook. It was not only Disney’s first attempt at an Asian legend, but also their attempt to write a more modern Action Girl heroine instead of one of their typical Princess heroines.
Do you want to know who my hero is, though?
Look at him. He’s a member of the Regional Divisional Army, which was filled with members of the upper-class, sons who were given as labor in order to divert taxes. In exchange for land, the family was to give a man to fill in the guard, as well as outfit him with equipment and armor. This guy is not an elite soldier, and he’s probably never seen battle before. But you know what he does?
Despite grappling hooks
Despite a compromised HQ
Despite this guy
HE DOES HIS FUCKING JOB
But alas, we never see him again. Probably because that Obviously Evil Dude (Shan Yu) kills him after burning the flag in front of him. In fact, he’s so evil, he probably killed him with the burning flag.
Ahem! Moving on, we next have a scene of exposition.
Your majesty! Exposition!
Once upon a time, China had no chairs. You could tell who the emperor was because he had a mat to sit on. So these guys are bowing so low out of habit. You could bow normally, guys. (It wasn’t until Buddhism, with all its foreign artifacts, that chairs and chair-sitting became a normal lifestyle of China)
Now we meet our heroine.
Here she is.
Like most Disney heroines, Mulan starts out her movie doing her chores. Snow White was cleaning the steps of the palace, Cinderella cooked breakfast for her ungrateful stepfamily, Sleeping Beauty was berry-picking to feed herself and her “aunts” (okay they just wanted her out of the cottage while they prepared her birthday party). As a matter of fact, Mulan’s first chore is even feeding the chickens, exactly like Cinderella. Unlike Cinderella and the rest, Mulan isn’t introduced singing about how her dreams will be handed to her on a silver plate while she’s doing her chores. Mulan wrestles her dog into feeding the chickens. Mulan is different from other heroines from the beginning, not because she’s Chinese (well there is that) but because she uses her mind.
Next we meet Fa Zhou, Mulan’s father. Considering how he’s referred to with great awe and respect by people who have never met him, he’s supposedly a great warrior, and his reflexes are still great, considering how he catches the teapot. At the point we meet him, he’s old and infirm (he has that cane for a reason). Considering this story is set during the Wei dynasty, he probably helped put the current emperor on the throne. Perhaps he was even a general for the Emperor. But now he’s living a quiet life, and he patiently puts up with Mulan’s clumsiness.
Considering that we know, going into the story, that Mulan does what she does in the interest of saving her father, it’s important that we know that her father was worth saving. So he’s given a quick comic-relief scene (his quiet prayer interrupted by the dog and the chickens), but he’s still and kind and understanding to Mulan. So we like him.
Alas! This movie needs internal conflict.
How that get in her hair?
So Mulan is shown as being odd, because she’s late for things and gets messy? Oh, and she’s clumsy. You know, like any other modern heroine. Really.
Also, they call her out on her shit sometimes:
Mulan: The water is so cold!
Mother: Well it would have been warm if you had shown up on time.
They get her all prettied up and off to the matchmaker. I didn’t screencap it, but you see four other girls march off to the matchmaker. The first time I saw them, I wondered why they got prettier hairstyles than Mulan. I realized, on later viewings, the reason was twofold — one, Mulan showed up late, so they had to rush through doing her hair and just made a simple feminine bun, and two, this was literally the only time we see those girls, ever, so the character designers just went nuts on their hair because why else would they be there.
Mulan and these girls are being transformed into living dolls, by their animators and BY THEIR SOCIETY ITSELF IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT.
WHAT DID YOU DO MULAN
I like the matchmaker scene more if you don’t know what happened.
If you look beyond the matchmaker’s ample behind, you’ll notice the smoke is actually a whole bunch of spirals. This is something I noticed was consistent throughout the film.
There are countless other examples, too — the avalanche is depicted as swirly white smoke until they’re caught in the avalanche, and then it’s more like rushing water, or the clouds behind Mulan as she peers over the walls of her home are depicted as light blue swirls. The only other time I’ve seen so much over-the-top swirliness is in Sleeping Beauty, in her curls and in the forest animals. Do you typically see smoke and kicked-up-dust as spirals and swirls? It must be an artistic choice, but what is it for? To make the story seem more storylandish?
In any case, the Matchmaker informs Mulan than she will never bring honor to anyone and we have an unhappy Mulan.
Mulan winds up with an identity crisis, rife with symbolism and ridiculous makeup. OH MY GOD SHE'S A TEENAGER.
You have to admit this is incredibly difficult to face. I have no idea how historically accurate the matchmaker is, or if she’s just a prop made up by the filmmakers to make it obvious that Mulan is just not made for the position she was born into. Even so, she was probably raised her whole life (like fourteen or fifteen years) to do well for the matchmaker. Kind of like how we’re raised to do well enough in high school to get into a good college, so we can get a good job, so we can find ourselves a good spouse so we can raise kids to do well in school. In Mulan’s case, instead of doing well in school, she had to do well for the matchmaker. Without a good education, what are we? Without a good husband, what is Mulan? A burden on her parents, with no future for herself.
But Fa Zhou is worth saving, because he's a good father.
Fa Zhou solidifies his “good daddy” image by comforting Mulan and saying that she’s just a late bloomer, just like that blossom d’awwww.
Then Chi Fu arrives.
Disney has made great leaps forward regarding Asian stereotypes, but sometimes you kind of wonder if they threw all of them into Chi Fu, just so that they could make everyone else two-dimensional characters. Seriously, look at the range of Asian faces they have:
Look at that variety of faces
Chi Fu is not bucktoothed, but his voice is odd and his features are more heavily stylized than the rest of the characters. Maybe he’s supposed to be more of a parody of Evil Advisor features, because he’s a (relatively) harmless secondary villain. But still, he looks more like an Asian stereotype than any of the other characters, and the beauticians in the beginning even have their eyes closed most of the time!
But plot-wise, Chi Fu shows up and orders the people of the village to give up a single male from each family to fight the evil invaders. The people who answer his call:
1) a random, healthy dude who looks like a pirate
2) a son steps forward ahead of his father and says that he will take his father’s place
3) Fa Zhou
!!!!!!!!! Fa Zhou is old and injured!
It’s important that we see who accepts the draft — first we see how the draft normally goes, then we see a son accept, because we need to establish that sons can go instead of their fathers.
Naturally Mulan is worried for her father.
The Fa family, in a normal, dead silent meal at home
It’s suddenly obvious why Mulan has a complete family, despite none of the other Disney princesses having a complete family. In fact she has her mother and (paternal) grandmother around — we need to emphasize that Fa Zhou is surrounded by females. His singular Maleness is made more obvious by every female around him. Fa Zhou is alone in being the only Fa male. This is quite a dilemma, because he can barely walk five steps without falling over. How can he go to war?
GUYS. DO I REALLY NEED TO EXPLAIN WHAT HAPPENS?
Okay. Mulan cuts her hair and runs off in the night with her horse, her father’s sword and armor, and the conscription notice. Thus is the end of her origin story, and we can kick off with the real story, right?
No. Of course not. This is Disney. Mulan ain’t gonna make it in the world without some plucky animal friends.
Say, this guy looks plucky!
Her family says a prayer to their ancestors. Her ancestors apparently include:
Some Jewish traders from up the silk road
A Chinese Gothic couple
Yzma, from The Emperor's New Groove
Actually Headless Nick
black orange Mushu out to awaken the Great Stone Dragon, but that doesn’t go according to plan.
I see nothing wrong with this.
So Mushu, the disgraced, demoted guardian, convinces the ancestors that he’s the Great Stone Dragon:
And then off he goes, to get honor for himself and for the Fa family.
A final word on character development: THE BAD GUYS
Shan Yu is the actual bad guy of the story. He wants to kill the emperor (“By building his wall [the emperor] challenged my strength.”) He throws his considerable weight around and looks forward to killing innocent children. He’s described as a Hun warlord, but historically speaking, he’s probably Xiongnu, as the Huns were well-integrated into society by that time. He pretty much appears to want to kill the Emperor For the Lulz as it were, but there’s a more historically accurate reason for doing what he does.
The nomadic tribes of the East were ruled by a succession of warlords, who took control by force, and prevented their lieutenants from trying to overthrow them by directing their aggression outwards. Shan Yu is as scared of those guys as we are. He probably set up the invasion as a big game for his army.
Are we done with character development? ONWARDS.
Oh girl, it doesn't work like that.
Mulan doesn’t know how to act like a man. Because she isn’t a man. Her experiences with guys are much older male ancestors, and legends of ancestors and romantic poetry.
But if Mushu can break the laws of physics then he can surely get this girl to act like a man!
Seriously, look at those eyes.
His advice is not always...the best.
"Punch him to say hello!"
"Now slap him to say hello!"
Spit to say hello.
Mulan very quickly gets into a fight.
HEY YOU GUYS
It’s all up to one guy to whip these guys into shape!
Here’s my problem with “handsome” guys as drawn by Disney. Sure, they’re handsome, I guess, but they never do anything with their faces. Look at this guy:
Because he’s not supposed to be “good-looking” they’re willing to stretch his face to emphasize the point they want to make, and to amuse us. But Li Shang can’t do that, because he’s supposed to be handsome. Heck, he barely moves his perfect full lips. The stillness is off-putting. It makes me think that he doesn’t express emotions because he doesn’t have emotions (the expression of delight there on his face is his biggest expression). I don’t want to date a guy with no feelings. Therefore, why should I care about Shang?
Shang does that last thing all the time. He does it to like three different people. He pulls people by their collar and gets in their FACE. And still shows little expression. I did it to my boyfriend and he was weirded out. Shang: Good Captain, Bad Emoter.
Shan Yu hates trees
After an incredibly memorable montage sequence (“We must be swift as the coursing river/ With all the force of a great typhoon/ With all the strength of a raging fire/ Mysterious as the dark side of the moooooon”), we cut to a hilarious bath sequence.
I'm not like other men! I'm cultured!
But I'm culturrrrrred
Mushu arranges for the recruits to be sent into battle. How hilarious! I see no horrific consequences for this. On their way there, the men all talk about ladies, and how much not like Mulan they want them to be.
Playboy existed in ancient China, but the articles weren't as good.
Yao's heart is missing something! He needs it to be filled...by you!
Isn't Chien-Po a eunuch? Is he even capable of wanting a lady? Other than a cook?
The matchmaker called Mulan skinny for a reason.
Something is wrong here, but I can't put my finger on it.
Good thing the fresh recruits arrived to find out that the entire army had been wiped out! Now they’re China’s last line of defense. Good job, Mushu.
After letting the musicians vie for an academy award for best soundtrack, the plot moves on, faster than a speeding bullet, faster than a bloggess realizing that the academic blogpost she’s writing is really long and she needs to get this thing wrapped up.
As fast as fireworks skyrocketing towards giving away your position.
I'd believe him.
A thousand nations of the Persian empire descend upon you. Our arrows will blot out the sun!
Fight scenes tend to go too quickly to screencap, so long story short:
You guys got that, right? Mulan drowned the invaders in an avalanche, Shan Yu stabbed Mulan, and then fell into the avalanche. The good guys got out fine. It was a very exciting sequence — the kind you watch the movie for, rather than read the screencap summary of.
But Mulan and Shang were injured, but Shang “only” got hit by an arrow, whereas Mulan was injured enough to get exposed as a woman.
GENITAL ORGANS ARE A CRIME.
In the original legend, Mulan had a long, successful career, and then died and then was exposed. But Disney is about young ladies, so we’ll have her come out after just one skirmish.
Mulan is so sad you guys omg
And now we hit the third act — Mulan dresses and acts like a woman again. I’ve read feminist reviews which claim that Mulan was only a hero because she dressed and acted like a man — but she saves China dressed as a woman, with everyone acknowledging that she’s a woman. That point, at least, is mistaken. Besides, the parts that Disney made up were the parts were she was a girl. You can’t tell the story of Mulan without having her impersonate a man. Sorry, feminists. On that specific point you’re mistaken.
The bad guys are alive!
The good guys are partying!
SAY, SHANG, YOU'RE NOT USING THAT SOUL, ARE YOU?
Mulan runs from person to person, trying to warn them of the incoming Huns, but no one will listen. Mushu suggests that it’s because she’s dressed as a woman again, but maybe she should try telling someone other than loiterers at the back of the crowd? To be fair, her old crew wouldn’t listen to her because she’s a liar after all.
But of course the Huns do invade, just in time for an ending climactic battle sequence! They kidnap the Emperor and lock the doors, so it’s up to Mulan to think of a way into the palace.
A very sexy way into the palace.
Another action sequence ensues. You guys. It’s a Disney movie. Interestingly, Shan Yu considers Mulan to be a Worthy Opponent, and Mulan kicks butt using skills learned as a man and a woman.
THE DAY IS SAVED, THANKS TO...
The honored trust of the emperor
So Mulan saves the kingdom by breaking all the rules, because heroes break rules. It’s what they do. It makes you wonder why they bothered to implement rules in place.
How to make gif
After receiving gifts from the Emperor, she goes home, but not before being disappointed by Li Shang’s awkward speech. Hence the Emperor giving Shang encouragement right there. It’s a nice series of facial expressions. Makes me laugh whenever I see it.
Remember this guy? We love this guy!
I do kind of like the ambiguous ending of the story. On one hand, she doesn’t end up happily ever after with a handsome prince. Instead, she earns the love of her father, and honor for her family. But for the romantics in us, yes, it’s highly implied that she and Shang DO end up together. Just not on-screen.
This blog is where you put in your choice for who is going to win in the Oscar Category for Best Animated Film (short subject). The fee to enter is $1. You win entry fee money and bragging rights. Since there are five options and 27 of us, odds are pretty good that multiple people will win; therefore the winnings will be split as evenly as possible amongst the winners.
I will not be entering the competition, but you can see my previous entry for my thoughts on each of the nominees.
If you want to enter, tell me in class, or comment on this blog. Because the ceremony itself is on Sunday 26, your vote must be in by February 25 to qualify. Your entry fee is due Tuesday 28, when the winners of the pool will be announced.
If you want to put in votes for the other categories, please feel free to! There’s no money in it or anything, but whoever gets the most correct will win bragging rights and maybe cookies baked by me.
A full list of nominees can be found here. The animated short subject nominees are as follows:
“Dimanche/Sunday” Patrick Doyon- A small boy’s Sunday is filled with both ordinary and extraordinary events.
“The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg- A storm transports a young man to a place where books are living entities.
“La Luna” Enrico Casarosa- A young boy accompanies his father and grandfather to their unusual nighttime job.
“A Morning Stroll” Grant Orchard and Sue Goffe- A New Yorker passes a chicken out for its morning stroll.
“Wild Life” Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby- A young Englishman with more enthusiasm than practical experience emigrates to Canada to become a rancher.
Comment with your vote, or any questions, or any other thoughts that come to mind!
Like a true nerd, I spent my birthday at the movie theater, watching the animated short subject nominees for Best Animated Film Short Subject. Also, we totally played Lord of the Rings Monopoly and Klingon Monopoly at the same time.
INSTANT NERD CRED.
I ended up attending the 3:45 show with some of my nearest and dearest:
Kerstin, one of my best friends since middle school, a true fangirl
Andrew, one of my best friends for about six years now, a true intellectual
Lacey, my twin sister (therefore best friend since before birth), a perceptive woman who almost went to film school
Matt, her boyfriend
Together, we experienced…THE 2012 OSCAR NOMINEES (or are they 2011 I’m confused)
Only Kerstin and Andrew saw this the whole way through, because Lacey and Matt were running late, so I stayed in the lobby with Lacey’s ticket. I came in about halfway through the film. I saw that it had simple line animation with graytones, and appeared to be about a family reunion where the little boy was very bored, ran around playing his own games, involving a bear on the wall and the train and a coin, and then everyone went home. The animation didn’t impress me, although I did like the ending scene, when it was getting dark, so you saw the light of the headlights and the windows on the ground, and the cars pull onto the street to drive home.
Lacey, Matt, and I asked Kerstin and Andrew what it was about.
“It was called Sunday,” Andrew reported.
“It looked to be about a family reunion,” I ventured a guess.
“Yeah,” Kerstin said. “The family all got together.”
We really didn’t have a whole lot to say about it.
“What was the next story?” Lacey asked.
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg
“This one is going to win,” I said, even before the show actually began. “It has the best distribution. It’s going to win.”
“I have to agree with Kelsey,” Andrew said after the show was over. “I think the books one is going to win.”
“I liked it,” everyone reported. They commented on how smooth the animation was, especially compared to some of the others; it had a good story, and the colors were good too.
A Morning Stroll
Grant Orchard and Sue Goffe
“Why was that one nominated?” I asked.
“It was based on a true story,” Andrew said.
“It was based on an article,” I said, “That as published in 1989.”
Apparently I was the only one who remembered that title card. We tried to figure out what the original article was about, given that the story showed us 1959, 2009, and 2059. Perhaps someone had written a small human piece on seeing a chicken treated like a pet?
I had hated the animation, and said so. At first I had found the 1959 animation charming in its simplicity. But the 2009 animation seemed like it was based in the 1990s, all neon colors and awkward proportions, kind of reminiscent of Logorama, actually, which came out in 2009, so I guess it makes sense.
In any case, we decided that while it was definitely different and that was good, the story seemed sparse, the animation didn’t fit with the rest of the nominees, and the 2059 was kind of gross (the entire audience had shouted in disgust at it).
Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby
“I liked this one,” Matt ventured, “It was my favorite, besides the book one. I liked the brush strokes.”
“I liked how they used the brush strokes to show movement,” I said.
“Which one was that?” Kerstin asked.
“It was the one about the English guy who moved to the Canadian wilderness and then committed suicide by wandering into the cold,” I said.
Lacey disagreed. “They didn’t say why he died. They just show how he died.”
“He left that letter saying how he was looking forward to seeing everyone,” Matt pointed out.
“And he had his suitcase,” Lacey pointed out.
“So he wandered out to go stargazing and then froze to death?”
“He wasn’t prepared for the cold,” Lacey said. “In fact, I think that was the point of the movie. He wasn’t prepared for anything. He never made anything of himself.”
“Was it based on a true story?” Matt asked. “I kind of wondered, with the photograph at the end.”
“I loved this one,” Kerstin said, “It was my favorite, that and the book one.”
“It was adorable,” Lacey said.
“It was very cute,” I said.
We had nothing else to say on the subject.
Honorable Mentions — they also showed some other notable animations of the year, we supposed to fill out the hour-and-a-half requirement.
Nullarbor– We weren’t quite sure what to make of it. It was entertaining, certainly, but at the end, who triumphed, the old man or the young man? Did anyone triumph?
Hybrid– Actually we didn’t have anything to say about this one either, except that it was “political”, but how was it political? Was it global warming? Was it oil? We mentioned these options, and then moved on to other topics, being more interested in raving about the Fantastic Flying Books instead.
Amazonia– The very last show. We almost didn’t mention it, but Andrew mentioned that he didn’t like the art — specifically, he didn’t like the faces. I pointed out that I didn’t really like the cutesy animals either, but they served well to contrast the absolutely horrible things that happen in the course of the short, and then, at the end, it turns out they were just performing a show? What was that all about? Andrew pointed out that it was probably about human perceptions about animals then. We think they’re cute and innocent and putting on a show, but their lives are on the line, after all.
This is one of my favorite animation videos available on youtube, and I get more and more fascinated with it every time I watch it. I’m watching it with more and more of an artist’s eye; what, exactly, is getting reused? Take the part comparing Snow White’s dance with a totem pole of dwarves with Maid Marian’s dance with a broken-legged dog. I hadn’t paid much attention to it before, but I saw that tonight, and I thought — what? There’s no way they match up. Dopey and the other dwarf have a long body and short legs, and the dog doesn’t. But nope. The dog has a long body and short legs, and the hobbled movement matches.
I’m trying to imagine where, exactly, the points diverge. It’s easy to see how Baloo and Little John can be recycled — recolor that big round bear and bam — but it really throws me when you’re comparing a vixen and a human, or a piece of paper and a human. In one shot, a sword is swung, but in the comparison shot, a paw is swiped, and in both cases, a short thing ducks. Is only part of the scene being recycled? Are they recycling, say, the ducking short thing, but redrawing whatever it is that causes the short thing to duck? Did I just use the same words over and over again, causing confusion? I apologize.
Try rewatching it, but imagine the characters as black and white lines, or even stick figures. I imagine that’s how far back the recycling comes from, the basic sketching. Most of the recycled animation is actually pretty difficult animation. Swing dancing, clapping, standing up when she’s wearing a long, flowy skirt, that complicated chase scene, beating a drum, those are all fairly complicated motions, involving multiple layers, lots of movement, and precise placement.
Heck, even just doing this was pretty complicated, and half of this is recycled frames. For some reason I felt like this was moving two things at once. I guess not. Next I’ll try to pop a bubble, and then I’ll do something with two points of movement.
Last: I think Beauty and Beast’s final dance was more of a homage, considering it was drawn a couple decades later. Yes No?