Call#: Van Pelt Library ML2075 .C66 2008
Hughes introduces the relationship between music and film by comparing his film score to that of Eisler’s. Eisler puts more emphasis on the foreground of music. He states Sergei Eisenstein’s theory as a good starting point to the overall interaction of the two forms. Eisenstein believed that different media established a connection based on shared emotional qualities through collision rather than equivalence. He did not believe in equating the two media form because the fundamental properties of visual art and audio art are “unalike.” Eisenstein introduced a higher form of montage with the idea that visual shots corresponded with “musical movement.” For example, a shot drawing the eyes downward would be complemented by a descending chord combination. Hughes continues with an explanation of film and music relationship in Eisler’s Rain. He concludes that the sense that there is a connection between music and picture comes from an extension of the sense of motion, generated by interactions between the media. The problem that arises here is the possibility of assigning a musical structure with an unrelated visual sequence. This problem arises from the difference between filmic modernism (clarity) and musical modernism (self-reflective symbolism).
“Fantasia,” fundamentally about the relationship between music and sound, utilizes Eisenstein’s idea of “musical movement.” A perfect example is the “Nutcracker Suite” sequence. Mystical fairies, such as the ice fairies skating on the frozen lake, create a kind of dance through their interactions with nature that perfectly interprets the music’s “movement.” Nevertheless, Disney did not take into account the likely collision of the two forms. Beethoven’s Pastoral and its corresponding mythical, Greek animation exemplify the inappropriate sound-image connection that Hughes would like to avoid. Overall, “Fantasia” seems to have moments of brilliance and moments of musical butchery. In its grace, the film captures the synchronization of music and sound on screen creating flowing unity. However, the abuse of musical art in “Fantasia” demonstrates its producers’ artistic disqualification. A good example of Eisenstein musical movement theory, the film is a technological artifact, but cannot be esteemed for its artistic innovation.
English, Horace B. “’Fantasia’ and the Psychology of Music.” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 2.7 (Winter, 1942-1943): 27-31. Blackwell. JSTOR. Van Pelt Library Philadelphia, PA. 30 Nov 2008.
English reminds the reader that the combining music and dramatic production is an old technique. Therefore, there has always been music that was written to accompany drama. Such music is composed around the story in order to enhance it. Some of the pieces in “Fantasia” were written as such, and therefore Disney’s visual accompaniment does not destroy the music. On the other hand, most of the sequences in “Fantasia” use the music as the base and write the story around the music, ignoring the inherent differences between visual forms and musical forms. He explains this by describing man’s relationship to sound. Sounds have become abstractions and carry an infinite variety of plastic meanings. There is no fixed meaning of a musical sound. On the other hand, the eye is an organ of reality meaning that what is seen—painted, written, pictured, etc.—holds far more acceptability than what is heard. “Seeing, not hearing, is believing,” he asserts. He says that when we are really responding to music, we are creating something unique and individual; and at the moment of such creation, anyone else’s response, be it ever so beautiful, is only a distraction and an annoyance.
This article exemplifies one of the biggest critiques of “Fantasia:” mixing two forms of art inappropriately. According to English’s view on music, Disney ends up annoying the viewer with this combination rather than impressing him. In the context of “Fantasia’s” purpose, English seems to take the repercussions of the sound-image relationship too far. Disney wanted to expose lower-class audiences to the mysteries of classical music while demonstrating his talent in animation. However, with an intellectual mindset, the viewer sees the images as “a distraction and an annoyance.” Disney thus succeeded in entertaining his uneducated viewer, but he could not gain approval of intellectuals. English describes music, which is not written around a story, is an art form of its own. As such, artistic music provokes individual emotions that should not be normalized as they are in “Fantasia.” Unfortunately, Disney’s attempt failed to consider the musical characteristics that were the cause of much critique. As an entertainer, Disney seems to be doing the job with this film. On the other hand, as an artist, Disney overlooks fundamental aspects of art. Disney’s lack of basic artistic comprehension contributes to “Fantasia’s” failure as a work of art.
Call#: Van Pelt Library NC1765 .I37 1991
Brophy identifies the Disney Company as important, first and foremost, for its inventions, devices, and processes that have defined and refined animation as we know it. Disney constructs cinematic totality with the interaction between image and sound. Regarding Disney productions, Brophy defines musical composition as an organic life force and image as an artificial life force. Disney’s fusion of the two leads them to distil each other, to effect a symbiotic relationship emphasizing synchronization. The sound cartoon world, he explains, is one where every mark and squiggle is energized by rhythm, vibrating in reaction to the soundtrack. Brophy suggests that “Fantasia” honors the organic life of music to which the trickery of animated imagery could only aspire. An example of the symbiotic relationship between sound and image, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” shows how the orchestra conductor directs music while experiencing it. The experience and the direction determine each other. The real versus the dream-like are evoked in Mickey’s dream sequence. The passage demonstrates that music’s relationship with time is always relative. One’s reaction depends on what precedes and follows the sound. “A World is Born” is a commentary on the whole illusion of life which we infer from the preceding voice-over narration that delivers a literal content. Stravinsky’s score expresses a violence of rhythm, which Brophy links to barbaric behavior and reproductive and procreative activity (the juxtaposition of orchestral bursts and erupting volcanoes represents the phallic thrust of creation). Disney’s animated shorts and features manipulate sound-image relationship to mobilize narrative construction and our place within the text.
Music’s relationship with time explains the conductor metaphor that he can control a piece’s direction during his performance, but can never fundamentally alter it. The conductor thus never redefines music in any other temporal context but his own. The conductor, symbolizing the producer in the context of film, is given the opportunity to place the audience within his “text” to create a specific perceived narrative of sound within one sole context. The Nutcracker Suite in “Fantasia” is proof that associations and interpretations are all relative. In this sequence music is depicted by fantasy and nature. Coincidentally, it never alludes to the theme of Christmas for which the soundtrack was originally composed. The film therefore illustrates the myriad possibilities in musical direction while inferring that interpretation is contingent only on time. Brophy’s theory on the relationship between image, sound, and time proves Disney’s artistic intentions to simply sway the audience in a certain direction. Unfortunately, the animation, like that of the erupting volcanoes for example leaves no room for individualized creativity because it so clearly defines the action. Though the synchronization of music and this particular animation does not intrinsically harm the musical pieces, it does devalue them as art in the temporal medium of “Fantasia.” By falsely directing such musical manipulation, “Fantasia” significantly decreases its own artistic value.