Movie Fact #302 – October 30th, 2013:

During the Disney Renaissance, the period between 1989 and 1999 where Walt Disney Animation Studios created some of its most successful animated films that reinvigorated interest in the Disney studio, there were a couple of films that were darker than the average Disney animated film due to heavier subject matter featured in those said films. Take for example the 1996 film “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, which saw several production troubles due to it’s darker tone.

Due to the heavy subject matter, there were many issues that proved contentious between the creative team and the studio with one of the main ones revolving around the “profession and motivation” of Claude Frollo (Voiced by Tony Jay), the villain. See in the original text written by Victor Huge from which the film was based on, Frollo was a church official/archdeacon of the Notre Dame cathedral. However, in the film version, he was turned into a judge/a secular government official, whose preoccupation with the gypsy lay in his view of them as “agents of moral decay”. This was opposed to Frollo, in the original text, seeing them as deviants of the Church.

In “The Gospel According to Disney” it is stated that, “Disney executives would have no part of Hugo’s intent to criticize the church and its leaders for their failure to defend the poor and the powerless” as well as finding it, as they put it, “too controversial”. So, in an effort to be as faithful to the text as possible, as “The Gospel According to Disney” as states, “the animators did their best to subvert this order from above”. They did this by using his visual design to show he was a priest.

When “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” was released, Entertainment Weekly magazine, which gave the film an A in their review, noted “When it was announced that Disney would produce an animated musical version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, there were doubts, even jokes, about transforming Victor Hugo’s classic tale, with its famously misshapen hero, into a crowd-pleaser for kids.” Those doubts, it seems, were unfounded and the film went on to carry the powerful messages of the original text for the most part. This perfect handling of such heavy subject matter is a perfect example of why the Disney Renaissance was such a flourishing period for Walt Disney Animation Studios. It seems, during that period, Walt Disney Animation Studios was unstoppable.

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Published in: on October 30, 2013 at 10:52 PM  Leave a Comment  

Quote #302 – October 30th, 2013:

“People aren’t like numbers.  They’re more like letters and these letters want to become stories.  Dad says that stories need to be shared.”

– Thomas Horn, “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”

Published in: on October 30, 2013 at 10:35 PM  Leave a Comment  

Movie Fact #301 – October 29th, 2013:

The 1977 Woody Allen classic “Annie Hall” was considered Allen’s move from comedic films to films with a more serious tone. Clearly Allen had a desire to make something special with this film and even added scenes during the film’s production that deviated from the original screenplay.

For example, there was nothing written about the childhood home of the character Alvy “Max” Singer (Played by Woody Allen) lying under a roller coaster, but when Allen was scouting locations in Brooklyn with Willis and art director Mel Bourne, he, as he put it, “saw this roller-coaster, and… saw the house under it. And I thought, we have to use this.” Another example, involves the incident where the Alvy scatters a trove of cocaine with an accidental sneeze: although not in the script, a joke emerged from a rehearsal happenstance and stayed in the movie. In audience testing, this laugh was so big that a re-edit had to add a hold so that the following dialogue was not lost amidst the audio of the laughter.

Some things happen by accident but can lead to great results. History has shown that some of the greatest scientific findings sometimes happened by accident. Great films are no exception.

Published in: on October 29, 2013 at 10:35 PM  Leave a Comment  

Quote #301 – October 29th, 2013:

“Unless you do this with an open heart, I don’t think anything will come of it.”

– Amr Waked, “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen”

Published in: on October 29, 2013 at 10:20 PM  Leave a Comment  

Movie Fact #300 – October 28th, 2013:

Amazing what someone will do to make a film happen. Take the 2013 film “Riddick”, which stars Vin Diesel in his third theatrical performance as space convict Richard B. Riddick.  Let’s just say, to start, Diesel invested a lot into making this film happen.

See, originally, Universal Pictures owned the rights to the “Riddick” franchise and so Diesel with director David Twohy couldn’t get another “Riddick” film into production without their go ahead. So, Diesel agreed to make a cameo appearance in “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” in 2006 in exchange for the rights which allowed him to produce the film independently.

And with that, after years of writing the script, getting funding including from Diesel’s own pocket at one point, and finally entering pre-production in 2011, fans of this pulp science fiction character were granted another installment of the “Riddick” saga.

Published in: on October 28, 2013 at 10:00 PM  Leave a Comment  

Quote #300 – October 28th, 2013:

“That’s why you call it a budget.  You set it and you don’t budge.”

– Jennifer Morrison, “Warrior”

Published in: on October 28, 2013 at 9:55 PM  Leave a Comment  

Movie Fact #299 – October 27th, 2013:

Sometimes you need to work with what you got in film because of budget reasons or just trying to be creative. The 1954 musical “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”, for example, had costume designer Walter Plunkett make the dresses worn by the female cast from old quilts that Plunkett found at the Salvation Army.

This might have to do with the fact that MGM Studios, according to lead actress Jane Powell (Played the character Milly), was less interested in “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” than it was in “Brigadoon”, another film being made at the time based on a musical like “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”. This interest included even cutting “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” budget and transferring the money to “Brigadoon”. Yet, somehow, with the creativity shown by those like Plunkett, the film managed to make it work.

Published in: on October 27, 2013 at 10:16 PM  Leave a Comment  

Quote #299 – October 27th, 2013:

“I don’t want my thoughts to die with me.  I want to have done something.”

– Claire Danes, “Temple Grandin”

Published in: on October 27, 2013 at 10:05 PM  Leave a Comment  

Movie Fact #298 – October 26th, 2013:

It’s a Saturday. People are out and about. Why not just a quick fact that might surprise you about the Academy Awards. They have been around since 1929. But did anyone ever wonder how the legendary Oscar statuette came to get their distinguished look?

As it happens, the statuettes were modeled after Mexican film director and actor Emilio “El Indio” Fernández who is probably most famous for his film “Maria Candelaria” in 1943. It was actually the first Mexican film to be screened at the Cannes International Film Festival in 1946 where it won the Grand Prix becoming the first Latin American country to do so.

Anyway, Fernández was a close friend of Dolores del Rio, who was married to Cedric Gibbons. Gibbons was the designer of the original Academy Award statuette so Fernández was the model who posed as the naked knight holding a sword now known worldwide as “Oscar”. It’s strange how a simple friendship could lead Fernández  to being part of the design of one of the most famous awards ever.

Published in: on October 26, 2013 at 11:04 PM  Leave a Comment  

Quote #298 – October 26th, 2013:

“Every great thing starts out a little scary, doesn’t it?”

– Nicholas Hoult, “Warm Bodies”

Published in: on October 26, 2013 at 10:53 PM  Leave a Comment