How Friz Freleng’s ‘Rhapsody In Rivets’ Became “A Working-Class Fantasia”

Anvils, Mallets & Dynamite
This piece is an excerpt from “Anvils, Mallets & Dynamite: The Unauthorized Biography of Looney Tunes.”

It’s constructed round an orchestral association of Liszt’s Second Hungarian Rhapsody for piano (which could be the most-used piece of classical music in all animation). The characters are building staff, appearing as if their instruments had been musical devices. The brief earned Warner Bros. an Academy Award nomination and impressed Freleng to make a right away follow-up, Pigs in a Polka, the place the story is “The Three Little Pigs,” and Liszt is changed by Brahms.

Classical music was in its final interval of prominence in American well-liked tradition, with NBC broadcasting common concert events by its in-house symphony orchestra below Arturo Toscanini, and film studios placing out movies like The Nice Waltz and 100 Males and a Woman (the place the woman was Deanna Durbin and the hundred males had been a symphony orchestra). In 1940, Charlie Chaplin’s The Nice Dictator featured two memorable scenes constructed round orchestral classics, and that very same yr, Disney launched Fantasia, an formidable suite of very costly, largely critical interpretations of classical items.

Freleng’s movie has been known as “a working-class Fantasia.” Whereas Disney dealt nearly completely in scenes from the previous or fantasy, together with prehistoric dinosaurs, mythological gods, and sorcerer’s apprentices, a lot of the enjoyable of Rhapsody in Rivets comes from seeing Disney’s music-appreciation undertaking utilized to a contemporary metropolis. If Disney was striving to make animation intellectual, Freleng was stripping away a few of its pretensions and connecting it to on a regular basis life. He and Maltese approached the classics within the spirit of an American who listens to Toscanini broadcasts and information of Liszt and Rossini and Wagner however refuses to be intellectual about it.

Rhapsody in Rivets

Rhapsody in Rivets, like many such movies, places the emphasis on the music by together with no dialogue and no sound results whereas the music is enjoying (besides sounds that may be created by musical devices, akin to a triangle imitating a hammer on a nail). It additionally has a plot that, even for a Warner Bros. cartoon, is easy. With their foreman appearing because the “conductor,” a building crew erects a complete skyscraper in sync with Liszt’s well-known piece. After they end the constructing, it falls down. The story, as in lots of cartoons to return, is an excuse for a sequence of gags.

Just a few of these gags are about classical music on the whole. The foreman’s lengthy hair and solemn method are a reference to the well-known conductor Leopold Stokowski, who had simply carried out the music for Fantasia, and who Bugs Bunny would famously impersonate in Maltese’s story for Chuck Jones’s 1949 cartoon Lengthy Haired-Hare. However the majority of the gags are synchronization gags, derived from how the motion pertains to the music, typically shifting with it, typically contradicting it.

Mannequin sheet, drawn by Bob Givens, of the primary character in “Rhapsody in Rivets.”

Freleng’s movie is a showcase for the way rhythm and movement alone can create laughter when the timing is ideal. A bricklayer places down a complete row of bricks in time with the music, after which pants in exhaustion, additionally in time with the music. Slightly man tries to climb up a ladder to some bars of music, solely to be pressured again by another person climbing all the way down to the subsequent few bars. The foreman holds up a “STOP” signal to sign that the primary part is over; everybody and the whole lot freezes till the recapitulation begins. In a sequence the place mild chords are answered by heavy chords, the visible equal is a tiny employee leaning in to hammer on a giant picket peg, after which leaning again once more as his co-worker smacks the peg along with his personal, gigantic hammer. Everyone knows the little man goes to get hit with the hammer, however the greatest snort comes from the matching of motion and character design to music.

Liszt’s piece ends with a trio of notes, proper after the loud chords that we predict are remaining. Right here, these notes work with a working gag concerning the foreman hitting a goldbricking employee on the pinnacle with a brick: after that very same employee is liable for the constructing collapse, the foreman is about to throw yet one more brick when three different bricks fall on his personal head to the accompaniment of these three notes.

Rhapsody in Rivets

Such a strongly rhythmic, timing-based strategy to storytelling calls for the same sort of animation, extra involved with precision than the fluid, stunning motion of Fantasia. Freleng’s animators typically labored in a mode that lacked fluidity, with characters popping from pose to pose; they’ll flip their heads sideways and down after which, on the beat, bounce again to an upright place. It isn’t all the time stunning, nevertheless it emphasizes the rhythm on Freleng’s bar sheets. Freleng can also be completely glad to repeat animation when the music repeats: it might save a bit of cash, nevertheless it’s additionally funnier to observe the very same factor occur greater than as soon as, and the literal repetition additionally makes it funnier when one thing totally different occurs on the third or fourth strive.

What we’re seeing in Rhapsody in Rivets, or in different cartoons from the identical interval with this type of sharp, split-second timing, is the event of a brand new comedic language, and each Warner director has his personal variant of it. The precision of the motion, the sudden slowing down and dashing up, the surreal warping of time the place many issues occur in an absurdly brief second. And above all this, the fixed promise that the subsequent gag will occur after we don’t count on it, mixed with the reassurance that each time it does occur, it would really feel as proper because the soloist’s entry in a chunk of music.

From Anvils, Mallets & Dynamite:The Unauthorized Biography of Looney Tunes. Copyright © 2021 by Jaime Weinman. Reprinted by permission of Sutherland Home Books.

Source link


News7h: Update the world's latest breaking news online of the day, breaking news, politics, society today, international mainstream news .Updated news 24/7: Entertainment, the World everyday world. Hot news, images, video clips that are updated quickly and reliably

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button