Boleslavski was a great admirer of Stanislavsky and his acting techniques. When he, Boleslavsky, came to the United States, he taught the Stanislavsky technique to his students. These included Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler and Harold Clurman; all were among the founding members of the Group Theater (1931–1940). The Group Theater was the first American acting ensemble to utilize Stanislavski’s techniques, and its members all went off to espouse their own versions of the “method.” American acting had taken some real turns into the creation and development of a true system for getting the best performance out of the actor.
In animation, there was animation technique and styles. These rarely had anything to do with acting. However, there were a number of animators at the Disney studio who wanted to put the focus on their acting and actually studied Stanislavsky and Boleslavsky so that their characters would give a great performance. Tytla was certainly a leader among the animators to do this.
Whereas in Pinocchio, while working with such a flamboyant and
eccentric character, Tytla stretched and distorted Stromboli to
get the necessary and sudden emotional mood shifts desired.
He didn’t use distortion, because it wasn’t the character he was animating.
Dumbo was gentle, all truth. The honest performance meant keeping everything
above board and on the table. That is undoubtedly the performance Tytla drew.
(Click any image to enlarge.)
Let’s move to another film. Fantasia.
Vladimir Tytla worked on the devil in Mussorgsky’s – Night On Bald Mountain.
Here are some drawings for the scene. They’re part Tytla and part clean up by his assistant.
A good example of a Tytla drawing.
They’re pretty damned impressive drawings. If there is any distortion,
it comes from making a body builder’s shape stronger. There’s no violent
flexing of those muscles, just the natural thing on display in the middle
of a dance sequence. Strong and forcefully beautiful drawings. The
distortion is done by the other spooks floating out of their graves on
the way up to their leader.
The devil’s motion throughout this piece is very slow, tightly drawn images of the devil lyrically moving through the musical phases. It’s pure dance. Any distortion is done via the tight editing that Tytla has constructed. Very close images of the hands with the flame shaped dancers moving about in tight close up as Chernobog’s large face with searing eyes closely watching the fallen creatures dancing in his hands. It’s distortion enough.
Tytla has constructed the most romantic sequence imaginable, and the emotion of the dance acts as the climax for all of Fantasia, and it succeeds in spades. All hoisted by the animation, itself. No loud crushing peak, just a dance done in a tightly choreographed number completely controlled by Tytla. It’s the ultimate tour de force of animation, and we’ll never see the likes of it again.
So essentially I’m pointing out that Tytla used distortion in the animation drawings to execute his acting theories, but as he grows, he not only uses his animation (and animation drawings) to “Act”, he uses his abilities as an Animation Director. The cutting and the movement of the scenes is used for the Acting, as well.