Disney Animator Milton Quon, 1913-2019

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

13 Comments on "Disney Animator Milton Quon, 1913-2019"

  1. Mr. Quon was a snazzy dresser.

    Bucket hats are considered very uncool, yet he somehow managed to pull it of with aplomb. The band on the hat even manages to coordinate with his belt and tie.

    He and his oeuvre will be missed by many.

  2. Charlottesville | July 3, 2019 at 4:09 pm | Reply

    Stylish man indeed. Rest in peace. I recently re-watched the 1940s animated Disney anthologies Melody Time and Make Mine Music, on which Mr. Quon can be seen working above. Some fun music as well as animation, including a Benny Goodman performance on the segment called “All the Cats Join In.” Lots of fun. In addition to Fantasia, what other Disney films did you enjoy recently, Christian?

  3. Wow, I remember “All The Cats” from the ’90s swing revival when we were re-discovering all that forgotten Americana!

    I watched “Snow White” and “Sleeping Beauty” and immensely enjoyed both.

    Charlottesville, did you watch the “Fantasia” clip set to “Parsifal”? That ought to at least crack the ice surrounding the heart-soul of the staunchest atheist.

  4. The torch procession with Wagner’s “Parsifal” is perfect, it gives the scene a Viking or Teutonic feel to the imagery. Very moving.

  5. Agree Schubert isn’t Teutonic enough!

    “Trout Quintet”? Yawn….

    FYi today was devoted to Glazunov. Don’t know him very well, save for his edit of Borodin’s 3rd.

  6. CC,
    The “Trout Quintet” is a piece that classical musicians truly enjoy playing. You can see it in the expressions on their faces. Give it another chance.

  7. Gene Rogers | July 4, 2019 at 3:23 am | Reply

    Enlarging the second photo, shows that he seems to be wearing a buttondown collar shirt and a knit tie.

    https://cdn1.thr.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/1500×845/2019/07/milton_quon_disney.jpg

  8. How dare you slander the bucket hat!

  9. Anyone brave enough to wear a bucket hat is cool in my book.

  10. Vern Trotter | July 5, 2019 at 9:09 am | Reply

    Wearing a size 8, I have never found a bucket hat big enough!

  11. MacMcConnell | July 5, 2019 at 10:01 am | Reply

    Bucket hats are fine, I own a couple, but I’ve been looking for rain caps. They were easy to find in the 60s and 70s. They are poplin hats with a brim like a bucket hat, but the top is constructed of six pie shape pieces like old ball caps. Anyone seen any to be had?

    Who doesn’t appreciate the artistry of humans at Disney prior to computers doing it. RIP Milton Quon, you made the world a better place.

  12. I have had the privilege of knowing Mr. Quon in person for many years. He was a true gentleman and a wonderful husband, father and grandfather. He had an enormous sense of humor, a gentle spirit and the sharpest mind even after he surpassed 100 years of age. He showed us all how beautiful life can be when we pursue our passions. He was always a sharp dresser, wearing his windsor knot just perfectly. My family and I loved him. The church family loved him. We will miss him greatly. What a wonderful man he was to all of us.

  13. Charlottesville | July 8, 2019 at 9:26 am | Reply

    Christian- Sorry for the delayed response; we’ve been in Washington to see the Tintoretto exhibit at the National Gallery and eat some world-class Indian food at the Bombay Club. I did watch and listen to the Parsifal-enriched clip, and enjoyed it. “All The Cats” is also well-worth rewatching.

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