Sunday, April 18, 2010

Disney Does Darwin

Bill Benson at The Value discusses how Walt Disney put Charles Darwin front and center in The Rite of Spring section of the film Fantasia.

Fish with legs
"But let us return to the metamorphosis sequence. Obviously this sequence does not depict Darwinian evolution in any direct way. If one did not know what it was meant to depict, the sequence would be mysterious. The important point is that, given the various implicit conventions Disney has already established in the three previous segments of Fantasia, we have no choice but to understand this metamorphosis as something that has been driven from within the animal itself. There is no external force acting on the animal, no Divine Designer."
Michael Barrier (where I found Benson’s article) follows up on Benson’s suggestion that “the fundamentalists, according to John Hubley, threatened to make trouble for Fantasia if Walt connected evolution with human beings.” Interesting reading, especially for those of us old enough have been exposed to The Rite of Spring in grade school science class.