Fantasia Provoked the Symbolism in The Address of Happiness

July 14, 2013 — Leave a comment
Mickey Mouse in Fantasia. the Sky is always aspirational, sometimes dangerous in the Disney Ouevre

Mickey Mouse in Fantasia. The sky is either  aspirational or  dangerous in the Disney oeuvre

Fantasia had a significant impact on the style of The Address Of Happiness.  I never realized it until I was interviewed the other day of Marlene Sharp who covers animation for the Examiner. One of my teachers at California institute of the Arts  was Jules Engel.

When Jules worked at Disney studios, he oversaw the radical production of Fantasia. As the head of animation at Cal Arts, Jules screened the picture many times. The picture was filled with music and morphing musical instruments. Time and place were often disposed of in Fantasia  for the sake of the spirit of the music. The film consisted  of eight animated segments,  set to segments of classical music conducted by Leopold Stokowski; seven of which are performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra. 

The cosmos looked a bit like thin Las Vegas dancers in this frame from Fantasia

The cosmos looked a bit like thin Las Vegas dancers in this frame from Fantasia

Of course, in The Address Of Happiness, Music is  the metaphor for God. The two souls of whom this story is about meet in a dimension where “time is not known”  prior to being born into earth. Here, “the music rises” and everything expands to the music.

Two souls meet before they are born. From The Address of Happiness website

Two souls meet before they are born. From The Address of Happiness website

This is what I had said to Marlene;

When CalArts was just a twinkle in Walt Disney’s eyes, television was making its authority known. Its programming required a huge amount of content. And Walt Disney’s little studio could not keep up with the demand for animation. He started CalArts, so to act  as a feeder of animators to the Disney Studios. Before he died, Walt Disney installed Jules Engel, one of his key animation guys, to run the animation department at CalArts. Jules was one of the forces behind Fantasia.

And Walt Disney’s dream came true: artists like Tim Burton, Pee Wee Herman, and Andrew Stanton emerged from CalArts. But the most significant graduate is probably John Lasseter, the founder of Pixar, who is now a top dog at Disney.

I have to say that the little book I just wrote, The Address of Happiness, which deals with love, time, earth and heaven would not have been written had it not been my experience with Jules Engel, Walt Disney and CalArts. If you look at the book, you can see the antecedents of Fantasia throughout The Address of Happiness. Music is a main character in the story, just as it is in Fantasia. Marlene, we all know that everything influences everything else. In fact, the Disney influence on The Address of Happiness is significant.

Jules Engel at California Institute Of The Arts

Jules Engel at California Institute Of The Arts

As I grow older, and hopefully wiser, I am truly surprised how the dots of our youth are connected to the dots of our  maturity — and for me, I see the great hand of Music in it all!

Luck is random, this existential experience , from my vantage point is not. Everything happens for a reason.

You can find the entire Examiner interview with Marlene Sharp here.

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