Sunday, August 13, 2006

Mom always said, "Don't play ball in the graveyard!"

Good Evening Bodies,

This week we take a gander at a broken bust.

As we go through the graveyard and pass the caretaker, minstrels, animals, etc., we finally come upon a quintet of singing busts. Four of these busts are up on their pedestals, one however seems to have been broken! Who could have done this? Thieves? Vandals? Rowdy kids? None of them. For the true culprit was Imagineering itself!

As far back as the "Disneyland Showtime" with the Osmonds and Kurt Russell, we have seen that originally, the bust of Uncle Theo (Thurl) was just fine in its original testing. In pictures of models, as well as concept art, the busts are all intact. So why did they break this one?

Perhaps it was for some comic relief? Perhaps to show the talents that Imagineers could project at a 45 degree angle? Most likely not.

The most likely answer, as seen above in the image of Yale Gracey sitting the bust on a stand is that, while the upper portion of the head and shoulders are symmetrical, the base is not. Of course, some people could argue that this could be a trick of the light and shadow. However, look at the image below.

The red line indicates where symmetry is present within the bust. As you can see, the rounded base is not symmetrical. So what better to do, that instead of resculpt the figure, to simply cut the foam bust in half and angle the projector. This little goof by the WED sculpting department has now created an interesting gag present within our current mansion.

This little problem at the American and Japanese Mansions has been somewhat corrected at Disneyland Paris' Phantom Manor. Thurl, now being at the far right of the now Quartet, is actually angled 45 degrees from the 90 degree up and down. This little misalignment cleverly masks the piece of the bust which throws off the illusion of symmetry.

On a further note, its interesting that in the Disney animated film "Hercules", Disney animators cleverly added a scene that included 5 singing busts with one being broken.

"And that's how he be-came a bro-ken bust!"


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's an interesting theory, but, knowing Disney as we do, it seems more likely that the broken Uncle Theo bust is a deliberate sight gag.

I think it's significant that the broken bust is also the lead singer. Not only is it a funny gag, but it also helps Uncle Theo stand apart from the rest of the busts (all of whom, by the way, form a quintet, not a quartet).

That's not a trivial matter. Guests have to zip past the singing busts rather quickly, so anything that helps viewers "read" the scene faster make it more effective.

This is the more satisfying explanation, because it's consistent with Disney's expert grasp of visual storytelling.

4:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, Anonymous, GRD is correct in referring to the "quartet" at Phantom Manor, since there are only four busts there as compared top five in the other mansions.

4:46 PM  

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