24 Frames: Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (Fantasia, Samuel Armstrong, 1940)

“You will be able to SEE the music and HEAR the picture,” said Walt Disney of his hopes for Fantasia; and you can read, in excerpts from the transcripts of their story meetings, how Disney and Stokowski and their associates worked toward achieving that aim. In a story meeting on the Toccata and Fugue held on Tuesday afternoon, November 8, 1938, John McLeish, a story artist with the manner of John Barrymore (his stentorian tones can be heard narrating the opening of Dumbo), began talking about the contrast between the screen and the music.” In the Fugue, suggested McLeish, why not “picture a huge form moving slowly against a counterpoint in the music? Or just the opposite, when you have a slow, heavy chord, picture little, light forms playing against that.”
Stokowski was in immediate agreement. “When there is counterpoint in the music,” he said, “there should be counterpoint in the picture. The music explains the screen, and the screen explains the music. We must make it clear.”
Much of the strength of Disney’s images came from their clarity and simplicity, so Disney now knew where he wanted to go with the studio’s visualization of the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach.
“There are things in that music that the general public will not understand until they see things on the screen representing that music,” said Disney. “Then they will feel the depth in the music. Our object is to reach the very people who have walked out on this Toccata and Fugue because they didn’t understand it. I am one of those people; but when I understand it, I like it.”
Sir Herbert Read, in Art and Alienation, called Walt Disney a “great expressionist,” but Disney was a storyteller first and foremost; so the arm of Abstract Expressionism, which seeks to express feeling and emotion solely through color.
“The idea of color and music is very old. The color organ is really the key to it all and that goes way back. I remember seeing such a demonstration in 1928.” Continuing his discussion of color abstractions, Disney wrote, “Cy Young did something on this before he came to us — which was in 1935 or 1936. I remember him showing me stuff set to Mendelssohn’s Spring Song.”

Walt Disney’s Fantasia – John Culhane

Fantasia foi tão importante na visão de Michael Powell sobre o cinema que já no ano seguinte com 49th Parallel ele começou a pirar na batatinha com aquela coisa do The music is all that matters. Nothing but the music. já adequando as sequências em função da música e não o contrário como era mais comum na época, o que deve explicar o porquê David Lean ter dito que Powell foi a pessoa mais difícil com quem já havia trabalhado. O ápice disso talvez não tenha sido no filme dos sapatos, mas sim no filme das freiras, em Black Narcissus as cenas foram construídas especificamente para condizerem com a música composta por Brian Easdale (da mesma forma que trabalhavam Leone & Morricone e não Eisenstein & Prokofiev) assim como foram no Red Shoes ballet, mas este é fechado como se fosse um curta dentro do filme principal e o que acontece com a música em Narcissus é um crescendo cujo ápice é o enlouquecimento de Ruth.

Nota: Onde fica nisso tudo a lenda de que Delacroix sabia identificar as cores pelo seu gosto? Agora, isso seria cinema extra-sensorial.

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4 thoughts on “24 Frames: Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (Fantasia, Samuel Armstrong, 1940)

  1. FILME DOS SAPATOS, FILME DAS FREIRAS. Melhor jeito de falar dos filmes, a partir de agora só vou falar assim.

    E Nabokov e Scriabin pra lista de sinestésicos.

  2. Pingback: 24 Frames: The Pastoral Symphony (Fantasia, Hamilton Luske / Jim Handley / Ford Beebe, 1940) | Quixotando

  3. Pingback: Fourth Brandenburg Concerto | Quixotando

  4. Pingback: Suite in B Minor for Flute and Strings | Quixotando

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