Tuesday, February 10, 2009

"Doggone This Confusion!"

I suppose if I were more familiar with Disney's early output, especially Fantasia, I would be less impressed by The Three Caballeros. But as it happens, I came into this viewing knowing very little about the evolution of animation and was kind of pleasantly shocked at the cinematic imagination on display here. I'm wondering if the initial obligations to the OCIAA removed, or in the least lessened, certain obligations to narrative and even stylistic coherence, thereby freeing up the minds and artists at work here to really give us something special, for the most part.

It has such a wildly playful and insanely free-form style that its almost hard to watch. I'd be very interested to know what kids think of it. I was trying to imagine what it would be like to watch it as a child. It's funny to me that Disney tried to promote it to an adult audience by highlighting the "beauties" and the Latin music, because, in a way, I think it might be completely acceptable only to a child's sensibility. (I don't partake, but, I imagine it is also perhaps one of the great movies to watch while high)
A better film historian than me would have to chime in here, but, isn't the whole aspect of the "film" in this movie kind of ahead of its time? For example, in the first sections, the way it plays with the narrator/subject relationship. Some of the sportive ways it plays with the notion of itself as a film reminded me of Ophuls' La Ronde which is 6 years later and considered inventive for similar approaches.
It was refreshing, and I suppose somewhat disturbing, to see a cartoon animal so absolutely bonkers for human chicks. One of the reasons I feel asleep (totally "R.E.M asleep") in WALL-E was because I couldn't wrap my arms around the love story with all that metal. It's a little easier to swallow cartoon beasts in love(at least they can subtly add some femininity/masculinity to the designs), but nothing beats Donald Duck after "supposedly" Latin American women.

I only say "supposedly" because it looks like some of these scenes were shot near the Santa Monica pier with those locals. Regardless, we are sure to never again see so much lust on display from an animated character that doesn't say "Diggity, diggity, all right!"

These sequences go on for so long and are so obsession-filled, that it strikes me as hilarious that there would be a sense that this was keeping in line with the idea that it intended to "cultivate good will" with these other American republics. One walks away from the film with the impression that one of the major reasons to head down south, if not the main reason, is for the girls.
Without the burden of a narrative, and with imagination, inventiveness and stylistic freedom, this film approaches pure cinema. It can almost be called Avant Garde at some moments. This surprised me. It's really a shame that it is laced with this boring propaganda. The way it plays with film form is almost worth the viewing, if live action girls running for their lives from Donald Duck isn't enough.

(Title of post is from a line Donald Duck says as he is being teased by girls. A line I would never have deciphered had it not been for subtitles)


StinkyLulu said...

Thanks, Peter, for the questions you raise about this odd pastiche of a film.

And I find that your notion -- whether the OCIAA's imperatives inhibited the adventurousness of the filmmakers -- reactivates a question I've toyed with around this film. Basically, I think I need to rummage in the chronology to see if the film actually becomes wackier because the Disney team scrambles to make this a potentially profitable project once OCIAA pulls up stakes in 1944.

GHJ - said...

This second half and ending sequence of this film seem to be completely about Donald's quest to get laid. The constant fondling over these women is hilarious and at times very absurd. I'm still wrapping my mind around it. As for falling asleep in WALL-E, I'm not sure I can wrap my mind around that notion at all.

Peter Rinaldi said...

I saw Wall-E in a beautiful and perfect digital projection, it was late at night, and there were some moments (before the human sequences) when I started to hallucinate and think that it wasn't an animated film. Perfection like that makes me sleepy. It's like an sensory overload.

Chris Cagle said...


I'm glad I wasn't the only one who had a hard time figuring out what Donald Duck is saying!

That beach scene is remarkable because it oscillates so wildly between camera-as-male-threat and a playfulness between the women and Donald.

A question: are the women supposed to be Mexican? My understanding is that even then Acapulco was a tourist destination for Americans.

StinkyLulu said...

(An aside: I didn't fall asleep in Wall-E. Though I might have appreciated it more if I had.)

And Chris, I do think the women are meant to be figured as idealized (ie. as white as possible) seƱoritas. That said, you're also right that both of these films are aiming to inspire US tourism to established enclaves with significant US business ties.

StinkyLulu said...

The other thing I love about this:

Donald's so horny and he's not wearing any pants.

Low Expectation said...

I can say that I did see this film many times as a kid, but the only thing that seems to have resonated with me from then is the strictly animated parts, the interaction of the three caballeros and the music.

It wasn't until I watched it again in a class on Latin American cinema that I appreciated the elements of reflexivity, sex tourism (that is what I thought of) and propaganda.

I do think the women are all supposed to be relatively white, though. I don't recall any black people in the Brazil section, which is hardly representative of the country.

Anonymous said...

When I was a child I loved this movie so much that I wore out the tape watching it so often, so yes, children did like it.

Peter Rinaldi said...

Wow. Was there any sequence that you were particularly excited about as a kid? Do you remember how you processed DD's insane thirst for ass?