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March 27, 2015     Post-Gazette
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I ......POST-GAZEI-rE; MARCH 27, 2015 Page9 THOUGHTS By DAN ABOUT THIS & THAT with Daniel A. DiCenso THE HISTORY OF ANIMATION: End of An Era Walt Disney's death from lung cancer on December of 1966 was, and it became pretty clear about a decade later in hindsight, the marker of the end of an era. Cartoons were ending their days as a comedy, at least in theaters. Of course, it had been end- ing for close to a decade by then. Disney himself had stopped making cartoon shorts around 1962, leaving the art from to a few educa- tional shorts starring Donald Duck (such as The Litterbug, Donald and the Wheel, and finally Donald's Fire Survival P/an) and Goofy (Freeway Pho- bia and Goofy's Freeway Troubles), all showing a de- cided deterioration in draw- ing style. It took the Disney Studio almost two decades to Fred its head again once its founder died. The Jungle Book, the last film Walt personally su- pervised and released post- humously in 1967, was the last real first-class feature the studio would release until the mid-1980s. The artistry of the animation, the studio's pride in its golden years, entered its fuzzy period in which the animators could not even be afforded the time or budget to remove the early pencil sketches beneath the fin- ished drawing, often creat- ing a furry look to charac- ters. In truth, this could still be overlooked thanks to Disney's continued superior- ity over the competition even in its doldrums. But the enthusiasm was gone as was the creativity. When Disney lost faith in its car- toons so did audiences, the box-office returns proved as much. Now, on an even tighter budget allotted to ani- mated films, the cutting of corners reached a nadir. In its most painfully obvious manifestation, animation from older films was reused and recycled, creating a strange hybrid, new films made with old parts. This technique is seen most clearly in Robin Hood and The Aristocats. Fed up with the lack of imagination, Don Bluth led a team of other disgruntled animators on an exodus from the studio in 1979 to set "The New Face of Anima- tion: Beauty & the Beast and Shrek" up his own animation com- pany. Don Bluth Production's first features away from Disney were a welcome return to the magic of his old studio's prime. But after The Secret of NIMH and An American Tail, Bluth's work spiraled downward and today he is largely forgotten. Of course, the Disney renais- sance that started with The Little Mermaid in 1989 was still a decade away when Bluth left Disney, but if he could have foreseen the studio's return to glory in the 1990s he would have likely considered leaving Disney one of the worst decisions he could have made. In the end, more than any cartoon stu- dio of the golden age, Disney regained its status most suc- cessfully and in the 1990s once again trumped the competition, especially after its partnership with Pixar. In 1994, Disney, (together with Pixar), once again revolu- tionized the animated film with Toy Story much like Snow White had done in 1937. Disney's chief competitor, Warner Bros., closed its ani- mation studio in the early 60s and, though Friz Freleng tried to keep it alive in the late 60s, the plug was pulled on the studio before the de- cade came to an end. How- ever, the Looney Tunes gang never lost their popu- larity thanks in large part to continued exposure by new owner Ted Turner and con- sistent running on TV, along with Turner's other acquired property Tom & Jerry. To their credit, Warner Bros., under Turner, has kept the memory of their iconic char- acters alive putting them in new TV shows, movies, and releasing classic material on home video. Ultimately, TV proved to be both the death and savior of theatrical animation. With the cinematic cartoon shorts becoming unprofit- able thanks largely to tele- visions rise as a commodity and claiming a portion of cinematic receipts, cartoon- ists had to take their trade to the new arena with a much smaller budget. This gave birth to the pejorative term, limited animation (minimalist backgrounds repeated on a loop to simu- (Continued on Page 14) Boston's Renaissance Lodge Sons of Italy Introduces 2015 Tie Honorees Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito On Sunday evening, May 3rd, Boston's Renaissance Lodge of the Sons of Italy will hold its 27th Annual Black Tie Ball. This year, the event will take place in Quincy at the Granite Links Golf Club Ball- room with its breathtaking views of Boston. This spec- tacular event with dinner and dancing will also feature three honorees and a schol- arship recipient. The Boston's Renaissance Lodge is pleased to announce that Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito will receive its coveted Legionnaire Award Sword. Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito has been a mem- ber of the Worcester Sons of Italy Lodge for many years, and her husband, Stephan Rodolakis, is a member of Boston's Renaissance Lodge. The Lieutenant Governor joins past political recipients Governor Paul Cellucci and State Auditor Joe DeNucci as she receives tlis important award. Paul Guida, the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Sons of Italy, will also receive the coveted Legionnaire Award Sword. Paul is respon- sible for the planning and ex- Paul Guida Elizabeth Finer ecution of all State Sons of Italy operations, functions, and events. Under his out- standing management, the Massachusetts Sons of Italy has thrived over the years. He is a well-respected profes- sional who is very deserving of this award. Florence Kane will be re- ceiving Boston's Renais- sance Lodge's Inspiration Award. She will be receiving a Legionnaire Award Sword for a lifetime of commitment to the Order Sons of Italy in America. Her mother, Gloria Ferullo, served as an example for Florence as she rose through the ranks as a State Florence Kane Officer. She coached her daughter, hoping that one day Florence would become the first woman president. This dream came true as Florence Kane reached the rank of President of the Massachu- setts Sons of Italy, and now she has become a National Officer. She is indeed an in- spiration for all of us. This year, Elizabeth Finer will receive the Renaissance Lodge Sons of Italy College Scholarship. Her father, LTC (P) Michael Finer, recently commanded a US Army Infan- try Battalion in Iraq. He has been an Officer in Boston's Renaissance Lodge, Sons of Italy for over 20 years and the Lodge's Columbus Day Parade Grand Marshal. The Finer's and the entire Renaissance Lodge are proud of Elizabeth, as we have followed her aca- demic success over the years. Elizabeth is graduating from the prestigious Milton Acad- emy and wiU be attending the University of Rochester as a pre-med student. For tickets to the 27TM An- nual Renaissance Lodge Black Tie Bail, contact Dr. Dean Saluti, 617-285-6565, IMSaluti@aol.com "he North End Branch is located at 389 Hanover Street. Log onto www.bankeagle.com for hours and additional information. Member FDICJ Member DIF