My Autumn Treats (Festival)

Although it's not oficially fall (autumn) just yet, we have a couple of days left, I am treating myself to some autumnal festival treats this week. I call it a festival because, one's gotta find the silver lining wherever possible!

So today it's movie shorts.

The first movie short is a very old Silly Symphony/Merry Melody featuring skeletons having fun on a rare night where they get to hang out in the graveyard. Necessity is the mother of invention as they figure out fun, silly things to keep themselves amused.

This is just such a good time!

Then there is Dr. Seuss' Halloween is Grinch Night. There's very little to do with Halloween here, just an interesting meditation on the changes we perceive at the change of seasons from summer to autumn. And of course, some fun Grinch shenanigans.

What I love the most about Dr. Seuss, even though I've never read one of his books, just seen these cartoon films, is that he approaches things that could be scary or confusing for kids, from a mature, scientific adult point of view. This is both reassuring and engenders a sense of trust that whatever he's explaining or narrating makes complete sense and will clear things up in the end. At least that's how I've always viewed his films.

I love the part about the Whos' sniffing the weather change at the very beginning. I love seeing how the wind changes the animals and landscape. I love seeing how brave the little Who is, wandering around and bumping into the Grinch. I love the sad but loyal dog. I love the funhouse ride, because it's like post-modern art that keeps on giving.

The second movie short is A Night on Bald Mountain, from Fantasia. In 1985 when I went to see this movie--twice, because the first viewing my dad and I got in too late and the second viewing we got in just in time--I was awestruck by the entire production, but the segment I most connected with and found graceful beyond what words could convey, was the bit with A Night on Bald Mountain and the Ave Maria after it.


Where to start with this one? The very beginning is perfection, where the director narrates what we're about to see, who wrote the piece, and how the profane and the sacred work together here. The events of the short are supposedly on Walpurgisnacht. The need for both dark and light. Ying and Yang.

The music reminds me of the flight of the bumblebee but it's so rich and dramatic! There's almost a sense of foreboding. A sense of excitement at what's to happen next. You're not quite sure whether you're following along the music or the music is taking you for a ride!

Then there's the visuals. The devil gets a night free to stretch his wings. That very unfurling expression of moving out of lethargy, of seeing how much mischief he can get to. The hovering shadow that's trying to tear up an old belfry from its foundations. Scary. There's a lot of fun details to watch unravel. Plus, doesn't he remind you of Batman? Even the music, with the sharp trumpets reminds me of Batman's theme.

When he calls up wispy spirits embedded in those areas and instruments that were involved in their passing on. Amazingly rendered. The souls surround the mountain like a maelstrom. This keeps building up and we're not quite sure where it's heading. Remember, there were no computers back then, this is all done by hand. The timing alone is spectacular.

Then the little demons appear. They're so much fun to watch! In their bright colors, they're like little water drops dancing on a hot skillet. Active, furtive, frustrated, playthings of a superior force. The colors, the textures, the flow is amazing here. Beings of a different kind trying to express themselves and be playful in a way. That's what most captured my imagination. Like a secret, respectful glimpse into another realm. The deco lines of his chest as he stretches and the bells begin to toll. It's the first warning that the party's over. Like a bar tender flashing the lights on and off and saying: Folks you don't have to go home, but you can't stay here! This is when the gloominess finally enteres the picture for me. When all the maelstrom has to wind down. Then the graceful harp ushers us into the uplifting, moving Ave Maria. So harmonious. Slow humming, foggy landscape, candlelight procession, a lake, greenery.

Finally, Disney's Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I watched this for the first time while I lived in Mexico and I was forever transfixed with autumn in North America, the rolling hills of agricultural places, and the local aspects of harvest festivals.

Personality is conveyed so well in each of these characters! The suspense of sound and the tricks the mind can play when we're scared--we become irrational. Mischief, friends, family celebrations, and yearly ceremonies to mark the passing of time and the seasons. I also was taken with Bing Crosby's narration and songs in this piece. I couldn't get over how hilarious and self-serving Ichabod was without meaning to. Since he was the town's teacher, he looked through children's lunch boxes during class to determine which house to eat at! One of my favorite characters was the short brunette who is the overeager dancer. I've caught myself whistling the Katrina song on occasion, around this time of year.

I honestly have way too much fun watching these pieces.