Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Bill's so wrong..Pink Elephants is AMAZING!

One of the most baffling things about Plympton is his reluctance to appreciate the Hallucination Sequence in Disney's 1941 masterpiece "Dumbo". It's probably the single most influential piece of animation to my own work that I can think of, right up there with Pink Floyd "The Wall" and several segments within "Fantasia." This is a reoccurring argument with us. I can't imagine why he doesn't like it... Maybe because it wasn't animated in 6's???

It's quite a scary piece, something I truly appreciate. Especially since it was animated 70 years ago! The black eyes of the elephants, the conformist marching, the demented music, the experimental color and line work.. pure gold. I posted a HIGH RES of the entire movie here. The sequence managed to convey a spooky interlude that fits the intoxicated state of Dumbo and the mouse, also, acting as a segue to the realization that Dumbo can fly. The sync with the score in this twisted segment is flawless, those animators utilized musical rhythm to perfection. The segment was directed by Norman Ferguson and animated by Hicks Lokey, Frank Thomas and Howard Swift... yeah Bill.. those guys suck.

Interestingly, Pink Elephants has a New York City connection.. this article by Mark Langer includes this segment as an example of Disney's "Regionalism" at the time. The article is over analyzing a bit, but interesting.Above: Pink Elephants clearly influenced my work on "Moving Along". I recently did a lecture about the movie Dumbo at New York University, and a large part of the discussion was focused on "Pink Elephants".. some of those who attended were seeing it for the first time, and judging by their reaction the segment holds up 70 years later, and they didn't have a problem with the way the elephants were drawn. after all.. it's not about how it's drawn here,.. it's about how it MOVES and how it's working with the MUSIC! epic.

18 comments:

  1. I side with Bill.

    and Perry Farrell. Nothing's Shocking.

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  2. Well, Prior to all this I would have said Bill was crazy and that the sequence was perfect. I DO still think its awesome (so I guess, gun to my head, I would side with Pat) But Bills argument that they could have made it a lot crazier is a good one. I mean, if they were going with squiggly/loose/morphing animation, then why couldn`t at some point the elephants all morph together like the ending of "Drink"? or something equally/more crazy?

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  3. I was waiting to hear if you two disagreed on something. I wasn't expecting this to be the argument. I'm sure some people don't find it as scary now. I didn't find it scary as a kid, but I still found it mesmerizing. Its already a far cry technically from the rest of the movie. And yes, this was 70 years ago, and Fantasia didn't do too well at the time. So maybe there was a limit to how scary they could be.

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  4. would you agree the sequence was ahead of its time? Such an innovative and influential sequence should be praised i think. Perhaps the sequence isn't perfectly drawn but dumbo is drunk, shouldn't the images be a bit blurry/wobbly? I dont know...I think its awesome. Either way its also good to critique and notice the weak parts in things- even in masterpieces.

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  5. wow I thought I fully agreed with Bill until I read your retort in which you completely made me change my mind. When watching the film with my kids I always felt uncomfortable when the pink elephant sequence, like they won’t get this psychedelic stuff but they found it quite terrifying. Even though I really thought I agree with Bill I can’t help thinking how very memorable that sequence is and I think that is enough to truly justify the importance of the pink elephant sequence.

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  6. Like some of the others I red Bills post about it before yours Patrick - sorry, I'm a Brit, I agree with Bill in some respects but from what you have said I agree too in part with you that it is slightly scary at times, but I only notice it when I am looking at stills from the ones above you have taken. When I watched the sequence moving I actually hardly noticed some of the aspects that you mention it is projecting. The underlying themes are in fact very interesting and add to the weight of the sequence. I see from from Bills point of view that he maybe wants to feel as if he has been drained by watching this sequence and experience a notion of complete disorientation but I guess the processes used and the symbolism behind the sequence over ride that feeling to him. For you it is the underlying ideas and the forward thinking technical processes that make it stand out rather than feeling - this is a shot in the dark by a very new animator to the industry, so I'm not sure if my opinion is even valid.

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  7. I was surprised Bill didn't think it was psychedelic enough! For a 1941 family film, it struck me as pretty damn wild.

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  8. Does YELLOW SUBMARINE grab new viewers?

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  9. I agree with you 100% about the pink elephants scene. It's one of my greatest inspirations. It may not just be the animation, but there's something about musical timing that adds to it. Maybe that's why Disney was well known for "disney songs" in their movies. Most cartoons had musical timing back in the 30's or so. And being able to be surreal and imaginative unlike of what you can do in real life adds a whole dream-like sense to it. The rubbery elastic stretching and movement is great. And as for "it could have been even more surreal" etc, I think it's fine as it is. It doesn't have to be overly surreal to get the same sense and feeling.

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  10. I agree with you, Pat - I found it scary as a kid and I still love it as an adult. I don't have a problem at all with the design of the elephants, I think the fact that they are squashed and stretched in such a way adds to the fact that this is all a hallucination. The black vacant background with the bright color of the elephants marching along to the beat of that song - i agree with Emmett, it's mesmerizing. I'm inspired by this scene to this day. In fact, the band that I'm working with REQUESTED that I try to emulate the look of this scene in some parts of their music video, so they had to be doing something right.

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  11. It's quite interesting to read all this, both Bill and Pat's. I can see why Bill wouldn't like it cause he's stretched reality much farther then this segment did but I have to agree with Pat. It was a very trippy scene, made by Disney for kids in the 1940s, during an animation strike. I agree with Bill on the note that it should've been scarier cause Fleischer has done things far more trippy with the characters NOT being under the influence.

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  12. Personally, I think that it's a great scene, but there's one part of Dumbo that really haunted me, the train traveling through the mountains after the Casey Junior song. That's truly one of the most haunting moments in animation for me.

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  13. The imaginary elephants are so nice, it reminds me Barney from The Simpsons when he is drunk he sees "Pinky" the pink elephant.

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  14. First half scary, 2nd half, not so much, indeed, not at all until the very end. But really, quite brilliant. My take:

    http://new-savanna.blogspot.com/2010/10/secrets-of-pink-elephants-revealed.html

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  15. As a kid I don't remember thinking much of it but I just watched it again with my daughter and I just love this peice! However that being said as an adult if someone could do a modern, creepier version that would absolutely thrill me! All in all its really good but I do see room for improvement

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