Sunday, February 07, 2010

Weekend Linkage

One more Sunday night linkfest, beginning with Alice.

What's the defining screen version of Alice for most Americans? It's hard to argue against Walt Disney’s 1951’s “Alice in Wonderland,” which despite its beautiful Modernist animation was not a hit commercially or critically when it was released. The British press and literary critics denounced it as too Americanized, and they pounced on the absence of the White Knight, the Duchess and Humpty Dumpty. To Disney, though, the reason the film fizzled was a problem with the title character -- she lacked “heart,” he judged. But in the 1960s, "Alice," along with “Fantasia,” gained a reputation among college students as a “head” film ...

(Unless I read through it too fast, the piece fails to mention the 1933 Paramount version of Alice In Wonderland, which featured most of the major Paramount stars, including Gary Cooper and Cary Grant. Then there's the Technicolor test footage with Mary Pickford, when Disney was considering a live-action and animation hybrid.)

I thought I saw this before, but I pass it on anyway.

Jeffrey Katzenberg: I was fired [from Disney]. It was very public, very, very painful, and very humiliating. The company was actually at the pinnacle of success, as opposed to at the pinnacle of failure. Getting fired in failure, unless you're delusional, comes as an overwhelming shock. Getting fired when you're doing your best work can wake you up pretty well. It's called a swift kick in the butt. But I learned from that experience that change is good ...

Change ain't always good, but if you're smart and tough, you can learn from it. (And Jeffrey is buying new digs in Beverly Hills):

The six-acre property, which was never on the market, sits just above the Greystone Mansion, a Beverly Hills landmark. A long private drive leads to a house on a promontory ...

India isn't standing still in the animation training department:

Zee Institute of Creative Arts (ZICA), a division of Zee Interactive Learning Systems (ZILS), unveiled its new centre in Ahmedabad on Saturday. ZICA is India's principal academy of digital arts, film making and classical animation.

Currently running 12 centres across the country, ZICA is a pioneer animation institute that has churned out a number of animation prodigies in the past 14 years. The institute imparts practical training on pre-production/visualisation, production and post-production ....

The New York Times notes the ongoing feuds at the Annies:

Pixar has long complained that Jeffrey Katzenberg’s DreamWorks has an unfair advantage at the Annie’s because more voting members are affiliated with Mr. Katzenberg – and that DreamWorks has made certain of it. Hogwash, DreamWorks has always said, brushing off criticism as poor sportsmanship. There are arguments to be made both ways, but we will leave that to the animation blogs.

Pixar complaining is (to me) a little like the Democrats complaining about Republicans. If somebody plays hardball, play hardball back. Don't whine about it.

Also at the Annie's, Tom Sito gave a graceful, heartfelt speech about the animation creators who gave of themselves to make the biz a better place:

The Great Artists of the past taught us that we in Animation were more than just a bunch of strangers scrambling to make a living. They taught us that we were a family. As much as I was inspired by their drawing technique, I was also inspired by their generosity. Ben Washam gave free animation classes out of his garage to anyone who showed up, Grim Natwick took a newly hired kid at Charles Mintz named Chuck Jones out for an ice cream soda, so he could explain to him squash and stretch, Art Babbitt was out in the streets fighting for better wages for his assistants and painters. And all those who gave their free time to build the animators club ASIFA, John & Faith Hubley, Norman McLaren, Marc Davis, Bill & Fini Littlejohn and especially June Foray.

They didn’t make any money from it, but they did it because it would be good for all the animation community ...

And on that note, we wish you a happy upcoming workweek.


Floyd Norman said...

Disney's "Alice" sucks, but the animation and art direction is brilliant.

I'm glad Jeffrey is doing well. Can't wait to visit his new digs.

Tom Sito's Annie Awards speech was the best. A reminder of what really matters.

I loved Pixar's Bill Reeves' acceptance speech. Geeky, yet heartfelt.

William Shatner was terrific.

Anonymous said...

Meryl Streep as Alice is brilliant (and on DVD) in "Alice at the Palace."

Anonymous said...

Purists hate Disney's Alice, but it did two things nobody else did:
1) It made Alice the most interesting and funny character in the story, which she almost never is (Kathy Beaumont could voice the most frustrated English girls), and
2) It GOT THE JOKES from the book. Most versions either don't and tell them anyway, and end up creepy, or rewrite the whole thing themselves, and look like fools. (ahemtimburton)

...That's not easy to do, you know. :)
Even that big-budget word-for-word British live-action '72 version was almost-but-not-quite.

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