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October 3, 2014

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Page 12 POST-GAZETTE, OCTOBER 3, 2014 THOUGHTS BY DAN ABOUT THIS & THAT with Daniel A. DiCenso The Fiistor of Animotion: Disney's Golden Feotures The rewards from Snow White were many for Walt Disney, but the most lasting one was the funding for a bigger expanded studio. If animated features were going to be his future, he needed a production crew, no two ways about it. The $8 million success of Snow White made this more than a just a wish upon a star and by 1939 Disney was able to begin building a new studio in Burbank to accommodate his growing staff and needs, who began moving out of the old studio on Hyperion Ave. By the spring of 1940, Burbank had become Walt Disney's official headquarters and remains the studio location to this day. Artistically, 1940 proved to be Disney's best year. Eager to repeat the success of Snow White, Walt got fast to work on his next ani- mated feature. In February of 1940, the world saw Pinocchio. The critics and audi- ences were equally thrilled. It could not return the same box-office as its predeces- sor for a reason that Walt did not foresee: WWII, which closed out much of the Euro- pean market. But the legacy of Pinocchio has survived its initial disappointing financial success. It remains not only Disney's best work, but also one of the very best animated films of all time. Its chief assets are the unforgettable cast of characters from the little wooden boy who dreams of being a real boy, the enduring popularity of Jimminy Cricket, who expanded his role from Carlo Collodi's story for the film and then became an unofficial story-teller for other Disney works, and a delightful rogues gallery rang- ing from the amusing (Honest John and Gideon), to the conniving (Stromboli and the wicked Coachman), to the terrifying Monstro the Whale. More than any other work, Pinocchio proves Disney's insight that story mattered more than anything else in the success of his films and his development of a full-fledged story department proved a smart move. In- deed, Pinocchio is a marvelously exciting film. The story moving at a perfect pace as it balances laughs, fears, and terror. The animation is as rich as ever, making great use of the multi-plane camera as it zooms closer into the village where Geppetto's workshop is. Pinocchio has remained an animated classic in the truest sense and may well be Walt Disney's crowning achievement. Disney's next feature began life as a Mickey Mouse short. By the end of the 30s Walt saw that his star's popularity was be- ing eclipsed by Donald Duck, who had re- cently been granted his own cartoon series. With the hopes of reviving the Mouse's fame, Walt planned an elaborate short st to clas- sical music employing all of the new inno- vations developed during Snow White. For advice on this ambitious venture, Walt met with legendary composer Leopold Stokowski at a gala party and proposed his idea. Stokowski suggested turning the whole thing into a sort of "concert feature" made up of several segments featuring animation set to classical music pieces. It didn't take long for Walt to agree and set to work on the project that would become Fantasia. This was unlike anything Disney (or any other studio for that matter) ever did before. Like Snow White, it would create the need for new technology, including a process for sound amplification Walt distributed to theaters showing the film, a system he called "Fantasound". It was an anthology film featuring not only the music of different composers but varying animation and designs. Abstract images accompany Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, dancing flowers, mushrooms, and fish frolic to Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite, the gods of Mount Olympus celebrate a harvest festi- val before Zeus rains on their party in an interpretation of Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony, Stravinsky's Rite of Spring goes to a prehistoric setting where dinosaurs battle, the originally conceived Mickey Mouse short became an interpretation of Paul Dukas's The Sorcerer's Apprentice, and was one of the best sequences along with the delightfully animated dancing hippos and ostriches set to Ponchielli's Dance of the Hours and the brilliant, intense, and atmo- spheric images set to Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain. At first audiences and critics were taken aback at the radical new direction of the animated cartoon, but few denied the artistic beauty and stunning visuals of Fantasia, which is, to my estimation, one of the finest examples of the art of animation and its possibilities. By the early 1940s, Walt Disney had practically eliminated the threat from rival animators that had kept him on his heels in the 30s. He was the undisputed king of animation for the new decade. Ah, but even in the happiest place on earth, there was trouble brewing and the compartmentaliza- tion of Disney's staff created a hierarchy that soon led to resentment among the animators. In 1941, the Disney animators went on strike and Walt lost his principles. He became something of a bullying boss, punishing even his best veteran artists like the legendary Art Babbitt for their partici- pation. The strike of 1941 was a turning point for Disney on a personal, if not artiS- tic level. He became far more controlling of the goings-on within his studio and, perhaps as a subconscious-form of revenge against unions, became a testifying voice when Joe McCarthy took his witch-hunt to Hollywood a decade later. But even among trouble, great work was done and two other Disney classics appeared during the strike; Dumbo and Bambi. The strike was ultimately settled while Walt was away on a tour of Latin America as part of the Roosevelt Administration's Good Neighbor Policy. The strike went away, albeit with a price (Walt lost some of his best animators as a result), but on December 7, 1941, Ameri- can life changed forever and so did the ani- mation industry...and not exactly for the worse either. Meanwhile though, it's worth looking at what was up with the growing looney gang at Warner Bros. animation studio. Benvenuti! These recipes will end our trip through Sicily. Tonno in agrodolce (sweet and sour tuna) celebrates the tonno, (tuna fish) as Sicily holds an ancient tradition in tuna fishing in the local tonnare (tuna fishery~cannery) whose presence in Sicily is diminishing due to new fishing regulations. Currently two tonnare are struggling to survive: one is located near Trapani and the other is on the beautiful island of Favignana. Tonno in agrodolce (serves four) 4 slices of fresh tuna fish 2 tsp sugar about one inch thick Extra Virgin Olive Oil 6 Tbsp red wine vinegar salt and pepper 3 white or red onions Preparation: sear the tuna slices briefly in abundant oil, then transfer to a plate and keep warm. Finely slice the onions, place them in the same skillet in which you have seared the tuna and cook them on medium-low heat until soft. bring the heat to medium, stir in the vinegar and the sugar and set aside when well combined. Place the tuna slices in a wide shallow pot so they don't overlap, season with salt and pepper, cover with the sweet and sour onions and let simmer (with the lid on) on low heat for 5 minutes. Arrange on a serving plate and serve hot or cold. Buon appetito Tonno in agrodolce (serve quattro) 4 fette di tonno fresco 2 cucchiaini di zucchero i alte circa 2 cm Olio Extra vergine di Oliva 6 cucchiai di aceto di vino sale e pepe q.b. 3 cipolle bianche o rosse Preparazione: Preparazione: friggi appena le fettine di tonno in abbondante olio e trasferiscile in un piatto tenendole in caldo. Taglia finemente le cipolle e soffriggile fino ad amrnorbidirle nella padella usata per friggere il tonno. Aggitmgi l'aceto e lo zucchero. Adagia il tonno in un tegame avendo cura di non sovrapporre le fette, aggiusta di sale e pepe, copri con la cipolla in agrodolce e fai cuocere col coperchio a fuoco lento per 5 minuti. Disponi il tonno su un piatto da portata e servilo caldo o freddo. Buon appetito! In Sicilian dialect, "pipi ardusi cunzatff means roasted pep- pers that are "cunzati" ("prepared") with some type of dress- ing or seasoning. This recipe complements very well the "tonno in agrodolce~ or any other "secondo piatto" (second course); it can also just be served as an "antipasto" (appetizer). Preserv- ing the many Italian regional dialects and teaching them to the future generations is both important and necessary. Pipi ardusi cunzati (Sicilian style roasted peppers) serves 4 6 red and yellow peppers 1 clove of garlic 1/2 sprig of fresh mint 1/2 sprig of basil 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1 lemon Preparation: roast the peppers in a 400 degree oven or directly on a gas stove, when they are dark on all sides, peel them, remove the seeds and cut them into strips. Put them in a serving dish and season them with a sauce pre- pared by pouring in a bowl the oil, mint and basilica finely chopped with garlic and lemon juice. Mix together every- thing and let rest for half an hour. Serve with crusty bread toasted. Pipi ardusi cunzati (peperoni arrosto conditi) serve quattro 6 peperoni rossi e gialli i spicchio d'aglio mezzo ciuffetto di menta fresca e mezzo ciuffetto di basilico 100 ml di olio extra vergine olio 1 limone Preparazione: arrostisci i peperoni in forno o sulla piastra, quando sono arrostiti su tutti i lati, privali della pelle e dei semi e tagliali a striscioline. Mettili in un piatto da portata e condiscili con una salsina preparata versando in una ciotola Folio, la menta ed il basilico tritati finemente insieme all'aglio ed il succo di limone. Amalgama il tutto e fascia riposare per mezz'ora. Servi con del pane casereccio tostato. Buon appetito!!! WWW. BOSTON POSTGAZETTE.COM %