Over the past year I’ve found myself increasingly frustrated with contemporary filmmaking. It’s taken a while to put my finger on exactly what the problem is. Obviously the shaky camera used in things like the Jason Bourne movies is an an annoying means of creating tension. Hitchcock never needed that. Quick edits are also part of the problem, with one shot every second or even faster. You feel like your brain in being numbed, and in fact a recent study showed that’s exactly what’s happening. Modern blockbusters activate the visual part of the brain while shutting down the cognitive part, the part that is into the story and the characters’ lives. So they really do make you dumber — at least temporarily.
It finally dawned on me that there’s a fundamental problem with the entire way that contemporary movies unfold visually. It hit me when I noticed how often I abort a contemporary film for just this sort of visually chaotic storytelling, and yet find myself completely absorbed by a random B movie from the golden age because of the pacing at which the visuals are presented.
Over the past year I also revisited some of the great Disney animated classics, which I wanted to watch for the archetypal fairy tale elements. I was shocked at how amazing the movies are, how well they’ve held up over the decades and how much they can resonate with an adult viewer. And so we pay tribute to the passing of one of Disney’s great animators. Milton Quon has died at the age of 105, as carried by The Hollywood Reporter. You probably haven’t heard of his name, but you’ve seen his work. What’s more, the guy had some style, and carried with him it all the way to the end.
Living to 105 is quite a journey, though perhaps his journey has only begun. Below is an example of Quon’s work from “Fantasia,” the final scene depicting the soul’s earthly pilgrimage. I prefer this fan-made musical setting, which is to Wagner’s “Parsifal,” whereas the original is to Schubert.
Rest in peace, Mr. Quon; there will never be an era of hand-drawn animation to rival that of you and your colleagues, and may it never be forgotten. — CC