Below is a link to my review and opinion of my adventures in Old City viewing galleries and Collegefest museum visits!! Please feel free to leave comments!
On September 7, 1929 America was recovering from what is known as the “Babson Break,” which was a small decrease in prices that lasted a day. Also on this day Disney’s second Silly Symphony El Terrible Toreador premiered. As always the instrumental music in the background carried most of the comedy, but in the best way possible. The music at some points added extra comedy due to the contrast of content on screen.
The cartoon opens with a waitress in what seems to be a bar somewhere in Spain. Now this waitress is a bit of a stereotype for the time. She is wearing minimal clothing and delivers alcohol to a male patron. During this time period people were beginning to struggle financially, which explains why the waitress did a little song and dance for the patron to earn extra tips. This starts the whole cartoon in motion. The patron now believes that she is attracted to him and starts to act pushy towards her. As this is taking place, a man comes in who is greeted with cheers from the other patrons in the bar. He starts a stand off with the pushy patron and ends up making him look like a fool in front of everyone. This in my opinion is another example of women being sidelined by men during this time period.
The cartoon now has these two men pumped up on their egos and the need to show dominance over one another. The next scene opens with the man in a bull ring. Another show and dance is performed between the man and the bull. It’s very comical and takes advantage of the music in the background. Everyone cheers except for the pushy patron who puts pepper in the flowers that the waitress is about to throw into the ring. One small thing I want to touch on is the fact that the waitress is sitting next to the pushy patron at this event. It was very subtle, but for me it seemed like another example of women not having the choices and decisions they can make today. After the flowers are thrown the bull spits out his teeth and the man takes advantage of the new development. They now get into a stand off, with yet another example of men needing to be in control and have power over those who are in a weak position. The cartoon ends with the bull being pulled inside out by the man who stands victoriously over it’s body.
The struggle between America’s past morals and the corruptness of the stock market of the time is what I think this cartoon is trying to comment on in a subtle way. I agree that the men are bulls, hungry for power and advantage over each other. Success was a contagious disease in the 20’s and still is ruling society today. Overall the cartoon was a little provocative for the time, but executed tastefully. The animation was really impressive for the time period. You can really appreciate the detailed work in each of the main characters and the motion they create. My favorite element so far in the silly symphony cartoons is the clever usage of music to create a comical tone throughout the story.
Thanks for reading and make sure to leave a comment if you have anything to add onto the review. This is just my interpretation and I welcome other points of view!
Today I had the pleasure of meeting with Rachel Zimmerman and Erica Minutella at the InLiquid Studio in Philadelphia! As the InLiquid site states “InLiquid is a nonprofit organization committed to creating opportunities and exposure for visual artists while serving as a free, online public hub for arts information in the Philadelphia area. By providing the public with immediate access to view the portfolios and credentials of over 280 artists and designers via the internet; through meaningful partnerships with other cultural organizations; through community-based activities and exhibitions; and through an extensive online body of timely art information, InLiquid brings to light the richness of our region’s art activity, broadens audiences, and heightens appreciation for all forms of visual culture.”(InLiquid.org) This organization has the desire to connect with artists in Philadelphia and I saw firsthand how they work as a cohesive team.
I am not even a member of the InLiquid organization, but was welcomed from the minute I walked through the door. The studio itself is large, with friendly faces passing by. Everyone I saw was happy and smiling! This is the kind of organization that treats each other like family. Everyone in the studio seemed genuinely kind and passionate about their work. Having the opportunity to visit the InLiquid studio was an amazing experience for me and one that I will not forget!
Rachel is the executive director and Erica is the site editor of InLiquid.org. Rachel and Erica graiously agreed to meet with me and provided first hand advice on how to broaden my work through social media and potential opportunities available to young art students. The fact that such important members of the organization agreed to meet with me just shows the dedication they have to supporting artists. They took valuable time out of their schedules to help a young aspiring artist and in my opinion that says a lot about the character of those in the InLiquid organization. After leaving the studio, I felt so inspired to keep working and networking! I will always be grateful to Rachel and Erica and continue to update them on my progress because without them I might not know where to go next on my journey to becoming an animator!
“What is InLiquid.” InLiquid. Studio Z Design, n.d. Web. 7 Aug. 2014. <http://inliquid.org/about/ mission/>.
Tone, reflection and strong contrast to music are what come to mind when reflecting on the 1929 Disney Silly Symphony cartoon the Skeleton Dance. In 1929 Herbert Hoover was president and the roaring 20’s were reaching its end. Devastation had begun to consume Americans’ starting with the stock market crash and the beginnings of the Great Depression. These events taking place set the scene for the Skeleton Dance.
Walt Disney is famously known for his ability to distract audiences from their harsh realities and transports them into a land of fiction. This is his earliest adaptation of that idea and was executed wonderfully.
The cartoon begins with gloomy setting, a cemetery, were darkness is everywhere and inescapable. The use of tone is meant to convey the darkness shadowing the struggle American’s were facing through this terrible time.
Animals that are normally seen as harmless now become a source of fear in this dark setting. An example would be when the owl is blinking, looking around as if to check its surroundings. By showing tone variation between the owl and the background, it makes the viewer more attentive. It also clues the audience into the idea of something will soon take place in the story.
Reflection is also used to create a sense of a never-ending cycled nightmare. One moment I found very powerful was when two cats are mirroring each other’s movements. The cats begin to turn violent and soon are frightened by the appearance of a skeleton emerging from behind a grave. The cats are an example of the stock market crash, something unexpected and sudden. Americans were terrified when the stock market crashed not knowing that more hardships were to follow.
Repetition is used in the cartoon, to stress an important theme or idea. The skeletons’ in general repeat their actions. This repetition helps keep the viewers focus on the skeletons. The skeletons represent the continuous cycle of terrifying nightmares, causing hysteria and havoc. One could also notice that the cemetery is a repeated scene. If you were to watch the background closely, you would notice that the cemetery is a circular landscape. While the skeletons are dancing they move from one end of the landscape to the other, showing an inescapable cycle. This I think is intentional by the artist; they are making the point that the economic hardships are seemingly like an endless cycle that results in darkness.
The skeletons’ dancing is a humorous contrast to the hardships Americans are faced with. The endless cycle is being celebrated by the skeletons, which I think is trying to make the viewer think less depressing and more optimistic. Walt Disney was making the point that everyone needs to take the positive side of a seemingly terrifying situation.
The humor is directly related to the music featured in the cartoon. The contrast in content and music is used to make a serious topic more lighthearted and gives the audience a sense of hope for the end of their hardships.
No matter how this cartoon is interpreted, no one can deny is sophistication of this cartoon, especially for the time period it was published. The artist elements are cleverly placed and used to support the overall message being told to the viewer. The first Disney cartoon is well made, cleverly created and thought out through their attempts to reach a wide audience.