Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A teachable moment

Listening to Ligeti the other day got me thinking about "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" which got me thinking about that music by Dukas that went into the first "Fantasia."

I realize how little I know that movie. I know "Fantasia 2" better because that came out just a few years ago. In the second "Fantasia" I loved how they put Elgar's famous "Pomp and Circumstance" march to a cartoon showing Donald Duck assisting Noah in building and managing the ark.

But that is a whole other story. Back to "The Sorcerer's Apprentice." In "Fantasia" they had the famous cartoon of Mickey Mouse as the poor apprentice who thinks he can get the brooms to do his work for him.

When I see that cartoon now I think how it is wasted on the young.

You have to be grown up for that cartoon really to terrify you. You do not have to be that grown up. Fifteen or so will do it. But you have to have been in a situation where things got seriously out of control. A time when you thought you were smart and turned out you were not.

Maybe you lied about something and it grew and you could not get out of it.

You cheated on someone.

Or here is a good one: Maybe, like the music suggests, you got into the occult. Once on Catholic Radio this priest told this story about a group of kids who were messing with a Ouija board and they hacked into something that terrified them and they all showed up at the rectory begging for help. O, to be a bug on the wall when they had to make that call. "Guys, there's this church down the street..."

That is a "Sorcerer's Apprentice" moment!

A teachable moment, we would call it now. Mickey Mouse gets his teachable moment!

The cartoon is so vivid. The shadows at 1:32. The look on Mickey's face at 1:40. Such care went into it. I remember reading how an animator who had worked on "Snow White" said that he and a whole team of people spent months working on just a brief clip that showed the Seven Dwarfs marching home from work and their shadows on the mountains. This clip must have taken the same kind of work.

The music is so vivid too. It is great how Dukas sets that theme up right away, in the first bars.

The best, or the worst I should say, is when everything seems to subside and Mickey chops up the broom and he thinks he has the problem taken care of. But then that theme gets going again, a couple of notes, then a couple of more notes -- and at 6:22 I believe it is, there's that rhythm back, and there's a whole army of brooms marching. I love that part!

As long as it is not about me.

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