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Saturday, 7 March 2009

Bill Roberts "Reason and Emotion" (Disney)



















I am currently researching the use of animation for purposes of propaganda and will be writing intermittently about a number of movies with this in mind. Today's short eschews some of the crude, stereotyped material that distinguishes the form. Reason and Emotion engages intellect as well as tickling one's sense of humour. Made in 1943 it stands up to any scrutiny in terms of interest and technique. At first one hardly appreciates the movie is designed for the war effort. Reason and Emotion are seen as two tiny figures, prim, proper, sober guy versus caveman, both battling for control of their owner. They sit in the brain represented as a car - whosoever has the steering wheel controls the man. As a child Emotion tends to win out, allowing his charge to pull the cat's tale or tumble down stairs; as boy grows to man, Reason takes the wheel and life pursues a more stately course. There are many comic moments: Emotion grabs the wheel and his man makes a proposition to an attractive woman who promptly slaps him in the face; inside the woman's head, her own Reason has truly taken over though her Emotion might have steered a different path! In time of war Emotion, unchecked, can be dangerous. Our man is besieged by doom merchants, panic sets in, the enemy wins. It's time to let Reason take a hand. Adolph Hitler's ability to sway his audience is examined, the film humorously caricaturing the man but also breaking down his appeal into Fear, Sympathy and Pride. The choice and inventiveness of the imagery throughout the movie is wonderfully conveyed but in the war section director Bill Roberts excels as the effects of the Führer 's speeches are enacted by the two figures, caveman saluting Hitler, Reason, more cowardly, also raising his hand though in half hearted fashion; a fascist's giant boots with attendant swastika marching through ruined cities even as Caveman struts his stuff in his world. I need hardly say that the movie is exquisitely hand drawn, the Disney artists know their job and the masterly animation talents of Ollie Johnston and Ward Kimball are, of course, legendary in the industry. Being able to draw attention to works such as this, easy to miss for today's web browser, is one of the reasons I do the blog - the other being the salary ..... Disney released a treasure trove in 2004: Walt Disney On The Front Lines - The War Years. The two disc set has 29 shorts on disc 1 alone. Reason and Emotion is comparatively mild in its treatment of the enemy. Tomorrow another propaganda short produced in the very same year by Tex Avery.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The quality of writing is what distinguishes your blog Ian. Here you excel.