Saturday, March 27, 2010
( 6:07 PM ) posted by Setsuled
Last night's tweets;
Repent for a floating ball of damp sin.
Han just received our transmission of Tang.
Saruman's breeding ducks with goblin men.
Stay Puffed Marshmallow man changed everything.
I beat Super Metroid last night after playing it obsessively every night for about a week. It always takes me by surprise when an old Nintendo game manages to actually suck me in without being just a nostalgia trip. It's still a much smaller feeling game than Metroid II though.
I also watched The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. I'd gotten to thinking about it after Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland movie--his March Hare being reminiscent to me of the 1951 Disney version of the character got me thinking about what a big influence The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad was on Burton's Sleepy Hollow. Sweeney Todd and Sleepy Hollow are, to me, by far the best Tim Burton movies of the past eleven years. Yet I have to say the 1949 animated short is far superior to Burton's film.
The Mr. Toad segment features some wonderfully inventive slapstick sequences, Eric Blore is perfectly cast as Toad, and Basil Rathbone is an excellent narrator, but it's not half as good as the latter segment. Both segments reflect Disney's low wartime budget, lacking really any dynamic shading--most of the time, characters' skins are coloured with a single, solid colour. But Ichabod Crane is so wonderfully strange, with five or six separate creative momentums colliding into a very curious treat. At the centre of which is Ichabod Crane, who's selfish and looks bizarre, yet somehow has our sympathy. The story plays into the subconscious belief in mechanisms of the world behaving in harsh and almost mysterious ways--Basically, Crane gets more punishment than he deserves, but we're forced to ask ourselves if we're wrong about what's just, or if justice is in essence something alien and cruel.
The story also has ingenious cartoon slapstick, but that logic of animated physical comedy somehow comes off as more frightening than funny in the last portion of the segment, which I remember also being the case when I watched it as a kid. The Headless Horseman is somehow genuinely threatening.
The physical routines also work well and strangely earlier in the film as we're trying to sort out just what sort of specimen this Ichabod Crane fellow is. He and Brom Bones aren't exactly Popeye and Bluto--Crane's an interloper, and he doesn't have any "good guy" right to the love of Katrina. Brom Bones, while mischievous, isn't necessarily a real bad guy, and Katrina, unlike perhaps any other Disney beauty, appears to be completely amoral--innocently amoral. She has no problem letting these guys fight over her, flattering her vanity, but at the end of the day she wants to settle down in domestic tradition. Instead of just being the loser, Crane suffers an incredibly cruel fate, and this Disney film somehow manages braver horror than Tim Burton's gone for with any of his films, with the exception of Sweeney Todd.
Bing Crosby's laid back narration and singing rather seamlessly work to offer up this tale, too, which is not something I'd have predicted. It really is a strange work.