24 Frames: Dance of the Hours (Fantasia, Norman Ferguson / T. Hee, 1940)
Isso é o que acontece quando resolve fazer uma sequência em animação de Gold Diggers of 1935 do Busby Berkeley com o Ballet Russo de Monte Carlo.
“We’re are caricature,” said Walt Disney at another story conference. Indeed, he called his animated films “a caricature of life,” and he explained, “Animation is different from the other arts. Its language is the language of caricature. Our most difficult job was to develop the cartoon’s unnatural but seemingly natural anatomy for humans and animals.” Throughout the production of Dance of the Hours, Disney kept trying to make clearer to his artists what he meant by caricature in animation. When Hyacinth Hippo is observed, Venuslike, at her toilette, she is a presentation of human vanity whose point is made sharper by its distortion.
The salient feature of the romantic ballet has been described by the great choreographer George Balanchine as the “elfin, unattainable heroines and heroes who aimed at— and so seldom secured—permanent happiness.” The illusions of all the overweight and overeager, who would be elfin and initially unattainable, are more swiftly punctured when ballerinas are shown as hippos in tutus. Even static caricatures could accomplish this to some extent. The tradition of caricaturing human aspirations with animal analogies stretches from Grandville and Tenniel to TS Sullivant and Heinrich Kley. It is a tradition that Disney artists had been consciously studying since the early thirties. Employing heroines who are hippos, elephants, and ostriches, and heroes who are alligators, to caricature the strictly human pursuit of happiness lies squarely in that tradition.
But Dance of the Hours, with its animated exaggerations, does more. “This is definitely ballet, a caricature of a ballet,” said Disney. It is a caricature of the ballet in which not only the subject, temper, and mood of the romantic ballet are parodied, but the basic vocabulary of steps and movements as well. “To the dance,” wrote the great Russian animator Alexandre Alexeieff, “animation brings weightlessness and an unlimited metamorphosis.” When a human being executes the grand jett, this “big leap” is the triumphant achievement of the illusion of weightlessness. When a hippopotamus does the same thing, it is a caricature of that illusion. When Hyacinth Hippo flies, sylphlike, to the arms of Ben Ali Gator, she flattens him — despite the precaution that animator Hicks Lokey took of having Ali brace himself with his tail. Only an art of movement could lampoon the triumph of grace over gravity that is the essence of ballet — so the basic joke in Dance of the Hours is based on the nature of the animation medium itself.
The joke was told so well because Dance of the Hours was codirected by two keen caricaturists, Norman Ferguson and T. Hee. “Fergy,” who also animated the scenes in which Hyacinth powders her nose and goes into her dance, was the actual creator of Disney’s Pluto, the mute pup who was such a cunning caricature of the human adolescent. And Hee, whose given name of Thornton underwent a comic abbreviation ideal for cartoon credits, was originally hired by Disney for his skill as a caricaturist when Walt decided to burlesque film stars as nursery rhyme characters in Mother Goose Goes Hollywood.
Walt Disney’s Fantasia – John Culhane