Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Walt Disney and Romanticism...

Here are my notes after reading through the whole chapter on the relevance of Romantcism and religion in Walt Disney's work which we can refer to as examples of contemporary Romanticism... Some really good stuff in here and some important ideas to look into... I have also extablished 3 main shifts in the beliefs of society, CLASSICISM (The Enlightenment, The Age of Reason), ROMANTICISM, and DARWINISM, in that order... It is worth elaborating on each of these sections in our presentation...


- The Light in the Forest (1958)
- Snow White (1938)

- William Wordsworth, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Keats and oleridge are all regularly mentioned when referring to Disney's work in the context of Romanticism.

- Bambi (1942) created a visual equivalent for such poetic lyricism.
- In the words of one literary critic, Romantic poets feel duty-bound to present a "sense of mystery of the universe, and the perception of its beauty." As, in his time, Disney did.
- Properly understood, Disney's camera visually approximates a technique that Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, and Keats considered essential: Reintroducing jaded, city-oriented pseudosophisticates to the magical world of nature.
- A bird in Bambi's forest, gaily singing inearly spring, seems far more inspired by Keat's 'Ode to a Nightingale' than anything in author Felix Salten's novel, on which the film was based.
- When talking about Disney's beautiful use of water and waterfalls in Bambi; what in Salten qualified only as a charming detail here becomes a mute metaphor.

- Many of England's Romantic poets were better known in their own time by a more specific term applied to their outlook. "The Lake School".

- During those years following the publication of Wordsworth's poetry but before popularization of Darwin's theories, Romanticism encouraged occidental culture to accept anything natura as good, anything civilized as, conversely, fake, pretentious, evil.

- Darwinism is a modernist term following the theory of scientific nature. It involves the theories of evolution and essentially portrays the idea of survival of the fittest.
- 'Could one go on believing in the Romantics' lyrical vision of naure once a society at large grasped the notion of survival of the fittest?'

- Classicism is a specific genre of philosophy, expressing itself in literature, architecture, art, and music, which has ancient Greek and Roman sources and an emphasis on society. It was paticularly expressed in the Enlightment, and the Age of Reason.
- God, viewed either as classicism's logical instigator of a perfectly ordered machine (most often symbolzed by a watch in literature and the arts) or Romanticism's originator of a spontaneously growing organism (symbolized by the tree), was replaced by the notion of a world wxisting without rhyme or reason. Man no longer debated whether a sense of purpose in the universe existed from the moment of its inception (classicism) or is better understood as what an ever-emerging world aspires to (Romanticism).

- Fantasia (1940). The Nineteenth century vision of nature as beautiful somehow joined with twentieth century science's conception of nature as brute force. Just such a balanced view would be achieved and communicated to the public in the Disney films. Fantasia marked the great endeavor's starting point.
- Fantasia is based on the then-emerging scientific explanation of the world's creation.
- After Poesy, Shelley's great love was science, a point driven home by his wife, Mary, in her novel Frankenstein (1818).
- Though the official debate may have continued in the public arena as to whether God had indeed created the world in Six days, the public at large came to accept science as a result of their exposure to the Disney version of creation, vividly modernist in approach.
- A battle, lengthy and memorable, follows between the T. rex and a sad-faced Triceratops. If Disney were indeed the sentimentalist he's so often characterized as, the benign beast would survive and the predator would be vanquished. That's not what occurs. The triceratops is defeated and eaten by the T. rex. That, Disney informs us, is nature's way; That is also, of course, what Darwin was trying to tell us. This may initially appear to belie Walt's romantic view of nature as a benign garden. Yet it's important to recall that long before the publication of Darwin's thesis, Keats suggested there might be a such thing as an "optimistic evolution", including the necessary disappearance of species.

- "Bongo" represents a romantic idealist, and can be linked with Shelley as Disney's visual equivalent of "Mont Blanc" (1816). As a post-Darwinist, though, Disney must also acknowledge the precepts of naturalism. Bongo, as it turns out, has been too thoroughly civilized for so easy a transition to full harmony with natural beauty. Stumbling over wild roots, inable to climb trees, he is threatened with starvation after trying and failing to catch fish in the stream. What initially seems a perfect pastoral gives way to a grim image of nature as potential destroyer of this less-than-fit subject.
- A smaller cretaure's brains, as is sof often the case in Disney, allow Bongo to defeat a larger opponent relying strictly on brawn, as he uses his circus tricks to avoid his larger opponent.
- Romanticism and Darwinism are not, Disney's moral fable illustrates, incompatible ideas. The harsh process of natural selection - dark, difficult, deadly- must be endured before the peaceful garden can be achieved.

- Now, the modernist side of Disney's sensibility allows for the achievement of a greater honesty by countering the Romantic "ideal" with Darwinist's "real". (IMPORTANT STATEMENT!!!)

- Rousseau's connection... his sentimental novel Julie, Ou la nouvelle Heloise, was of great importance to the development of pre-Romanticism and Romanticism in fiction.

- It was not nothing that Disney brought Joyce Kilmer's poem "Trees" (1916) to the screen in Melody Time, emphasizing the relationship of nature to spirituality ("only God can make a tree").

- The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh (1964). which has a similar storyline to Robin Hood. (Rebels fighting against an unfair establishment, in this case taxation.)

- Paganism is also important and relavant... Most Pagans share an ecological vision that comes from the Pagan belief in the organic vitality and spirituality of the natural world.

- Pantheism is the view that the Universe (naure) and God are identical...

Some key information in here even if it is extremely complicated... also, i've realised it would be hard to just talk about British Romanticism if we are bringing Walt Disney into the equation, who i believe is American...

I will notes for the Enlightenment lecture tonight and post these up, i will try and look into my two key people, but i may have to that tomorrow, these notes are taking a long time to write... sorry

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