“I'm wishing.” If you're a Disney geek you already know this scene as well as I do. It's the wishing well where Snow White sings The Wishing Song that sets up her longing for a better life and a handsome prince who will be, “the one I love.” I'm wishing as well, although this wish is for a very different love. It's the love of the Disney animation I once knew.
Look at this amazing original background from Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It's a simple water color background yet it remains the perfect stage for our heroine to perform her song. The colors are muted yet perfectly chosen. Detailed and ornate without calling attention to itself. This painting belongs to a very different world of animation than the one we live with today where backgrounds mimic reality and more often than not are usually overpainted with incredible, needless detail. Backgrounds were called backgrounds for a reason. They were a stage where animated characters could perform. There's so much distraction in today's backgrounds I often grow tired of looking at them.
Once again, this is not to bag on CGI filmmaking because much of it is quite impressive. However, the digital world of filmmaking seems too eager to mimic reality, and reality is not what I look for in animated movie making. The charm of animation is to interpret reality - not to duplicate it. We enjoy animated cartoons because they are not live-action. The computer has made it possible for cartoon making to accomplish all the camera moves and effects often seen in live-action movies. This has given us a new, hybrid kind of filmmaking that is neither animation or live, but a bizarre combination of both.
Call me old fashioned, and you'd be correct. However, I miss cartoon filmmaking with limitations. I miss the work of the background artists who created beautiful art because of the limitations of their medium. In my humble opinion this is what made them such stellar artists. It's because they couldn't do everything and were limited to their paper, brush and paint. This is what made them great artists. Unlike the ones and zeroes of today, this simple watercolor background from Walt Disney's masterpiece will remain forever.