Princesses

Friday I went to two princess movies, and a party.

Princess Iron Fan was made in China in 1941. It tells the story of a Buddhist teacher and three disciples who travel to the west to find some religious scriptures. Along the way, they encounter a range of firey mountains, and must convince the princess to give up her magic fan that will bring on a rain storm to quench the fires. It’s completely not a modern movie. The fight scenes (and there are several) are long, dragging on and on, the characters are opaque or unlikeable, and the animation quality seems about par for the era. Interesting historical document? Maybe. But most people won’t find this one particularly entertaining on its own.

On the other hand, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, which I don’t think I’ve seen in 20 years, holds up fantastically well on its 70th anniversary. It’s still very enjoyable to watch, as well as completely terrifying to the younger children who were in the audience (this one little boy behind me kept saying, “I’m scared. I’m scared.” while the Queen cooks up the poisoned brew and takes the apple to Snow White. I sympathize. I still remember feeling terrified by the evil book in the Care Bears movie at his age.)

We were also blessed to have Marge Champion, a dancer who provided all of the movement for Snow White, on hand to talk about her work with the animators. I was surprised to hear that her participation had been a closely-guarded secret for several years; at the premiere she had to sit at the back of the second balcony because Disney didn’t want anyone to know they’d filmed most of the movie scenes in live action to use as the basis for the characters’ movement. She said that her favorite character, of the three she modeled for at Disney, was not Snow White, or the blue fairy, but the hippo ballerina in Fantasia.

The most impressive thing about seeing Marge is just how healthy and graceful she still is (she’ll be 88 in the fall). She credited exercise, stretching, and having the right parents. Great example of the benefits of staying active.

As I mentioned above, I haven’t actually seen this movie since I was a kid. At the end, when Snow White wakes up to find her prince waiting there to take her away, I had the funny thought that from Snow White’s point of view, it’s a different story. A creepy old woman promises her that the apple will make her heart’s desire come true. So she takes a bite, and when she wakes up the prince is right there to take her away. As far as she knows, the peddler was telling the truth. I thought it was odd that she doesn’t ask “what happened?” when she wakes up, but it makes sense if she doesn’t realize she’s been living in a glass coffin for several months.

My last event of the night was a multi-venue party at Portland Art Center, Ground Kontrol, and Someday Lounge. Drinking, talking, and free video games. Yay. I had to leave in a hurry to catch a bus home, though. Tri-Met still gets no love from me for their really crappy nighttime bus service. If we’re a small city, shouldn’t I be able to stay out until the bars close?

One more post for Saturday’s events, and then we’re at the end of the festival. Sad sad sad. This has been such a great week.

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