Sunday, November 13, 2011

Pastoral 3: Come Dance with Me

Let’s take a close look at the dance sequence in the Disney’s realization of Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony. As I indicated it ends with Bacchus kissing his donkey. I want to see how they got there.

The sequence starts with Bacchus in the middle of an opening in the forest, drinking away as the centaurs and centaurettes dance figures around him. He soon joins in, dancing with one centaurette after another (3rd, 4th, and 5th frame following, the centaurette in the 6th seems to be the same as the one in the 3rd).

Pastoral dance1

Pastoral dance2

Pastoral dance3

Pastoral dance4

Pastoral dance5

Pastoral dance6

Now the donkey slips in for a turn. And only a turn. But Disney’s established that the donkey is a suitable dance partner.

Pastoral dance7

[BTW what’s that horn in the middle of the donkey’s forehead? How’d that unicorn feature get transposed into this donkey, and why? Inquiring minds want to know.]
Another turn with a centaurette:

Pastoral dance8

Then it’s into the center:

Pastoral dance9

While yet another centaurette beckons from not-so-afar. She moves away, Bacchus follows, falls, and sits on the ground, drinking away for a moment.

Pastoral dance10

Pastoral dance11 come get me

Pastoral dance12

Pastoral dance13

Pastoral dance14

But he gets up and goes back into the fray and, after missing a centaurette or two, manages to grab a centaurette’s tail—a body part she shares with donkeys. But he can’t hang on; she twirls and he goes flying into the air:

Pastoral dance15

Pastoral dance16

Pastoral dance17

He’s flying high and heading toward his donkey and two fauns. The fauns manage to get out of the way. The donkey does not. Bacchus grabs him by the forepaws, presumably thinking he’s a centaurette, and gives him a kiss upon landing:

Pastoral dance18

Pastoral dance19

Pastoral dance20

Pastoral dance21

Pastoral dance22

And that’s it. The sky will cloud up, and everyone will head for cover. We’re into the next sequence in the film.

The important thing to notice is that pass in the middle, the one where Bacchus does a figure with his donkey. He’s open-eyed for that one; he knows what he’s doing. And the donkey seems to proud and happy too.

That’s where Disney sets us up for the ending. It’s as though, in this setting, a donkey’s as good as a centaurette. At the end, things are a bit different. Bacchus is a bit drunker, he’s dizzy from spinning, and he’s blinded by a bunch of grapes over his eyes. He can’t see that it’s his donkey he’s kissing. It’s when he realizes the truth that the storm comes and the episode moves to a new phase.
Next Up: A look at oral imagery in the episode.


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