Going to keep this one mostly quick, I think.
Make Mine Music - Well, despite enjoying the two previous entries in the Disney Animation catalog, and thus the marathon so far, the comparisons that this film draws to the atrocious Fantasia had me worrying as I began the film. Not more than two minutes in were all fears completely shattered as the brilliantly diabolical segment "The Martins and Coys" began playing. The film immediately establishes itself as a unique entry in the Disney compendium and proves as it goes on that this film is everything that Fantasia could ever aspire to be; the film provides structure. Switching musical styles from short to short with a masterful hand, Disney provides some breath taking animation variation that the film's make up really allows for, which is great to see because it really demonstrates the range of the animator. Song after song roll by with beauty and splendor, each accompanied by a fitting sketch that helps provide some concrete ideas for the film to work with. All in all it's mostly simplistic fun, I can agree with that, but if we take this film purely as escapist animation, something that the opening and closing shorts seem to challenge, I really don't think there's been a better film I've seen up to this point in time. I'm usually not one to simply go for fun, and ultimately my numerical rating will evidence that, but this film is an enjoyable ride from character to character and story to story that I would be happy to take time and time again.
Let's start with the successful segments, which are the majority of them, so we'll probably be here for a while. As T.O. would say, get your popcorn ready. The stories here are all familiar, the concept of the Martins and Coys sketch is apparently a retelling of a simplistic tale, but as the segments opens with a gaggle of lushes lounging about with shotguns in hand as the upbeat music played in the background and the vocalist began kicking in the film becomes engrossing and captivating. Perhaps the most beautiful shot was of the men all floating up to heaven and eventually settling in on rain clouds before the film unexpectedly continues along to chronicle the marriage of the surviving members. It's nothing mind shattering, but it's a delightfully dark segment with a nice touch of black comedy, which I can appreciate. The Blue Bayou segment had a Fantasia feel to it, putting forth a graceful beauty in animation and not sustaining too much of a narrative, but the song is short and serves as a nice transition to the "All the Cats Join In" segment. This part is delightful, channeling some of the active animator of classic shorts and the previous two films in the Studio's repertoire. The animation is minimal, but it works really well with the song and is a fun time. The two most famous segments are next up, "Casey at the Bat" which provides a classic story set to traditional animation before it really picks up towards the end. The transitional sequences of the children playing followed by the beautiful thunderstorm is breathtaking and really effective, though certainly a bit predictable for the many who have heard the story before. Next comes another segment apparently axed from Fantasia, the "Peter and the Wolf" part that, quite wisely, takes a classic score and provides information for the audience to work with when watching the segment. The explanation of which instruments were supposed to represent what, something that would not have been clear otherwise, was a great idea, and the narration added humor that the short simply did not possess on its own.
The final two segments are, arguably, the film's highest points. The Johnny Fedora and Alice Blue Bonnet is incredibly animated and the song is wonderfully performed. Catchy and upbeat, but downtrodden and dreary when needed, the music really takes center stage in the final two shorts. The romance is generic in the first short, but it works on mostly all levels. Johnny's isolation, eventual freedom, and eventual downturn hit all the right notes and provide the emotional investment on all fronts needed for such an outlandish concept to work. Then the whale segment happens and that brilliantly diabolical segment that started things off is cranked up about ten notches as the fable of the singing whale takes center stage. The short is funny, the best use of humor in the film comes in the two groups of scholars debating the idea of a singing whale, and very uplifting as we watch Willy swim off to pursue his dream after signing a nice song for his aquatic friends. The audition sequence is great and the story of Willy is wondrous, until the rug is pulled out from under the audience's feet in such an unexpected fashion that the film's merits are immediately raised. The shot of Willy being struck is wonderfully tragic and the conflicting joy and sorrow in the final shot is poetic. Truly an accomplishment on all fronts.
The film contains a few bad segments, even in the fun, escapist sort of way. "Without You" is slightly interesting, but by comparison to the rest of the film it is really weak and mostly fails to engage. The "Two Silhouettes" part is fun for about a minute, and I didn't mind the use of live action because I felt it blended well with the animation, but it does wear on the eyes and ears after a couple of minutes of the ballet. The animated instruments of "After You've Gone" are mostly hollow as well, failing to cause any laughs and only mildly engaging from a purely visual level. Like said in the Peter and the Wolf segment, "Imagination is a wonderful thing, but sometimes it gets carried away." That seems to be the biggest problem in these three poor segments. While the segments are admirable, they are weak points. Still, as a whole, Make Mine Music is, at its worst, fun and silly escapist animation at its finest given the time period, and I really do feel that the first, penultimate, and final segments all elevate the film into worthwhile territory. Once again I am happy this marathon is happening because this is truly a wonderful surprise and, ultimately, proves to me that a concept like Fantasia can work if the proper elements are used. Make Mine Music may not be one of Disney's finest films, but it certainly is one of the studio's most underrated.
B-/B or 3.48943208143275273502313
Make Mine Music achieves an 8.2 out of 17, with 0 being
my memory of a specific Disney film that will be discussed at some point in the near future Fantasia, 8 being my recollection of another specific film in this marathon that will be revealed when it has been watched, and 17 representing how great Hercules is based on my most recent watching, which was likely over the summer, or winter break.
Currently in the marathon the rankings go as...
1. Bambi - (16.3/17)
2. Dumbo - (14.9/17)
3. Pinocchio - (13.3/17)
4. Make Mine Music - (8.2/17)
5. Saludos Amigos - (7.7/17)
6. The Three Caballeros - (6.66/17)
7. Snow White - (2.5/17)
8. Fantasia - (0/17)