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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

"Make Mine Music: Blue Bayou" (1946) - Pastel Concept ("Make Mine Music" Series)

Introduction -- "Make Mine Music." I have quite a bit of material from "Make Mine Music" (1946) that I wanted to post. For occasional readers, I'm putting some recurring background comments below my database notes. Hope you enjoy it.

These were the first items I had seen that were pastel on black paper. I found them unusual and striking. In this concept of the card players, the tone here is interesting -- a dark feel that adds to the overall tension of the scene (not to mention the gun on the table).

Pastel Concept-Card Players

----- DATABASE NOTES -----

From “Make Mine Music: Blue Bayou (1946). A pastel on small, black 5-hole paper. Gun is on the table, along with the playing cards. Small pin holes in upper left and upper right. Originally created for Fantasia to accompany “Clair de Lune”. [Item: 9"W x 7-7/8"H] Acquired 2000. SeqID-0078

Recurring Segment Comments (Blue Bayou Segment)

IMDB: "Blue Bayou"- a tone poem, reflecting the mystery and brilliance of a bayou scene, sung by the Ken Darby chorus.
Animation World Magazine, 4/1999: The second item, subtitled 'A Tone Poem,' is a popular ballad "Blue Bayou," but the animation had been completed for Debussy's Clair de Lune for the ongoing Fantasia, which Disney had seen as an extension to his concert feature, with new works added from time to time. This idea had been abandoned in 1941 at the time of the strike and during the increasingly fraught period when the war in Europe was closing down foreign markets for Disney films. The piece had been fully orchestrated and recorded by Stokowski, but this was 'the poor man's Fantasia' and so more popular music by Bobby Worth and Ray Gilbert, and sung by the Ken Darby chorus, was used. It must have been written at a late stage, because pre-release publicity for Make Mine Music still states "the classic Claire (sic) de Lune is heard in the 'Blue Bayou' sequence."
The item was directed by Sam Armstrong; and Josh Meador, who was one of Disney's most talented special effects artists, provided a number of inspirational sketches for the film. Another story artist for this section was the Englishwoman Sylvia Holland whose contribution to both Fantasia and Bambi I have documented elsewhere. The delicacy of Holland's chalk drawings are faithfully rendered in the completed animation, with herons in stillness and in flight. The colors are muted, with subtly blended contrasts in tone ranging from deep black to silver white, grey and dark blue. The water effects of the moon's reflection disturbed by the bird's movement are almost abstract, providing a delicacy of visual presentation to match the equally delicate music of Debussy. Holland, a highly trained musician herself as well as artist, was able to respond to the subtle grace of the music, but the popular ballad form debases the item. We must therefore applaud the Disney film archivist Scott MacQueen, who has faithfully and painstakingly restored the piece and shown it with the original music for which it was intended. When he presented it at the London Film Festival of 1998, it was seen as a revelation and greeted with astonished delight.

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