Rarely would a Disney film be categorized as being “Subversive”, but as usual there are exceptions.
Case in point #1: Fantasia, 1940
Fantasia broke all the barriers. It not only challenged the visual potential (in Technicolor™!) of large scale animation motion pictures, but it heavily experimented with the possibilities of pairing classical music (in stereo!) with animation.
In fact, Disney sunk so much money into the project that it took 6 releases before the film turned a profit.
It is no coincidence that it was the 1969 re-release that finally made the film profitable. Since the film became popular among users of marijuana and LSD, Disney was able to re-brand Fantasia as a “Trip Film”. The campaign was successful, as the youth flocked to the theaters (high or not) to experience this masterpiece.
The film not only captured the psychedelic look 25 years before the popularization of LSD, but it also became the first music video (film). There have been many edits to Fantasia because of racial stereotypes, sound/picture presentation, and length. The version that is closest to the original release version is the 60th Anniversary DVD released in 2000. Just don’t bug out during the “Night on Bald Mountain” sequence.
I thought I would start a new “feature” here on the good ‘ol KWUR Blog about new “Subversive Cinema” DVD releases.
Subversive films “attempt to undermine existing institutions or value systems“. “The subversive attacks something in control and wishes to replace it by what does not yet exist and has as yet no power“. (Amos Vogel – Film as a Subversive Art)
Luckily October features a slew of nice subversive DVD releases, lets check some out…
The Films of Kenneth Anger, Volume 2 (October 2 – Fantoma Films)
Kenneth Anger is one of the leading American avant-garde filmmakers, who also blew shit up with the publication of Hollywood Babylon which detailed all the juicy gossip of Hollywood pre-1950. These brilliant restorations continue where volume 1 left off. Essential for any basic subversive collection. [Note: Puce Moment, found on Volume 1, was screened during KWUR Week 2007 Movie Night]
Included are Scorpio Rising (1964), Kustom Kar Kommandos (1965), Invocation of My Demon Brother (1969), Rabbit’s Moon (1979 version), Lucifer Rising (1981).
Battleship Potemkin (1926, Sergei Eisenstein, USSR) (October 23 – Kino International)
This is a newly restored 2-disc “ultimate edition” which includes a 5.1 mix of the originally specified score (with a 55 piece orchestra) and restored intertitles. Considered one of the best films of all time (a Film 101 necessity), this film glorifies the story of a 1905 battleship crew who overthrew their oppressive tsarist captains.
O Lucky Man! (1973, Lindsay Anderson, UK) (October 23 – Warner Home Video)
Another 2-disc “Special Edition” with star Malcolm McDowell (think Clockwork Orange) providing commentary. This film, an “allegory life in a capitalist society” is the sequel to 1969’s If… (also recently released on Criterion).
Finally one of the most important films of all time (Goddard’s first) gets a proper 2-disc Criterion Collection release. At first look, this films seems rather conventional, which speaks to its influence on modern cinema. The films tells the “irrelevant” story of a French gangster by ingeniously purging all the conventional Hollywood norms.
Paradise Now (1970, Marty Topp) (November 1 – Arthur Magazine)
This limited edition DVD (of 1000) is Arthur Magazine’s (now back!) second DVD release, following Ira Cohen’s Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda. The film is the definitive document of a 1968 performance by the experimental theatre group “The Living Theatre” in Brussels. [Note: Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda was screened during KWUR Week 2007 Movie Night]
All these films are mentioned in some way in Amos Vogel’s exhaustive landmark study, Film as a Subversive Art (originally published in 1974 – now back in print!)