- Before posting this, let me tell you that I have all the respect in the world for Glen Keane. He’s one of the finest animators out there who consistently does original animation.
Last night I saw Tangled at a screening in 2D. I would have liked to have seen it in 3D, though EVERY review I’ve seen has put down the 3D experience saying that the glasses darken the movie to less than 60% of the brilliance on film. I doubt I’ll see it again for the 3D; if I do see it again it’ll be on DVD.
The history of the Disney studio. The film, itself, is basically a reworking of Beauty and the Beast (the magic flower, the bad male who has to be transformed into a good guy), Snow White (the wicked queen and the magic mirrors – two of them have to be broken), Cinderella (she cleans the tower for her wicked stepmother – or is this more of Snow White?), Sleeping Beauty (the horse with his own mind, the Princess awakens the sleeping Prince – or is this Snow White again?), The Little Mermaid (She looks like Ariel, the Little Mermaid with the hair that she just has to keep pushing back), Tarzan (the two lead characters skateboard over water and some paving, yet they don’t have skateboards). I could go on through some other films, but what’s the point?
Several of these female characters showed their spunk and advanced their Independence. In Tangled, Rapunzel goes after what she wants but doesn’t create her own fate, in the end. The male does. One expected it would be the wicked stepmother, but no, it’s the Prince … er Robber/Thief/Scoundrel. Inadequate. This is a film for 14 year old girls, and we see that they’ve seen it this past weekend, but they’re given the wrong version of the story.
The story in Tangled is smooth flowing, but crudely formed. It’s a mass of unbelievable material that rips apart one of the darker and great stories from the Brothers Grimm first published in 1812. The story is a nasty one which begins with a king, personally, stealing a plant from the witch’s garden to help his wife. She catches him on the spot and makes him promise his first born in payment.The king is RESPONSIBLE for his theft. Rapunzel moves to the tower and is protected from sex with her caging in the tower.
The film doesn’t use the hair very well. It is the sex that isn’t otherwise stated, and some symbolism should have entered the animation; it didn’t have to be obvious – it just had to be there. The incidental characters – all male seem to have bonded well, but we have no idea who they are or what their sexual preferences are. Again, the film seems unwilling to deal with the main subject of this great fairy tale. A stepmother trying to protect her daughter from the evils of the world. (Men!) Instead, this film is about ripping off Disney past. Yet we did see in Jeff Kurti‘s book on The Art of . . . that Rembrant was a major source of inspiration in the earlier days. Too bad too little of Rembrandt made it to the screen.
Just prior to going to this screening, I watched the first half of Tarzan on tv. Below, I’m going to post a number of drawings showing some clichéd poses by Glen Keane, but these poses don’t represent the animation he does on screen. He’s too good and sensitive an animator to show any clichés in the actual animation on screen. In fact, some of what he does is quite inspired. (Not the idea of Tarzan skateboarding through the trees without a skateboard. I expect the soles of his feet would be bloodied and damaged after trying it once, and I don’t think there’s scar tissue for it. It’s a small reality issue for me.) It’s just that these model sheet poses inspire clichés from lesser animators when they’re the poses.
Tangled is totally watchable (despite a couple of children running around the screening room, bored and loud). It’s just not good; story is everything.
Here are a bunch of drawings I culled from Raul Andres‘ blog, The Art of Glen Keane. I have to admit my purpose isn’t to showcase the art of Mr. Keane, but to express my disappointment with what I’ve found. It first became obvious to me with many of the drawings and models of his that were printed in the book, The Art of Tangled. Many of the poses he’s done since Beauty and the Beast have gone to the clichéd pose, and it’s disconcerting to me. Characters look like each other, and their facial postitions repeat the past. It’s a laziness in the drawing.
Look and compare drawings with this small sample. It took only minutes for me to compile them, and I could easily have kept going.
The problem, to me, is that Glen Keane has grown into this phase of reworking the same godawful poses. He has to come to grips with what he’s doing, and pay more attention it. There’s no excuse. It isn’t so obvious in his animation, just in his model sheets.
You wouldn’t be able to catch two poses from Frank Thomas, Milt Kahl or Ward Kimball that were so alike. There were no obvious clichés in their work.
Glen Keane is a remarkable artist and a brilliant animator. That is exactly why I have to take notice. There are many others aping what he’s doing in animation, and the kingdom is beset with endless clichéd poses. Let’s get it together, folks. Time to bring animation to a higher level.
Attitude has got to be a thing of the past. It’s rampant in Tangled, Toy Story 3 and to a lesser degree in Kung Fu Panda; it’s not obvious in How To Train Your Dragon. The independent films, The Illusionist and My Dog Tulip don’t settle into this type of posing. Strong, clear thinking artists dominate these two films.