By the way, this short has the absolute worst rhymes of all time that
sound like they were written by the horse that threw the horse that threw
Cole Porter. I mean, what is with "No no no! I will not go!" Or "That is
the reason why there's a winter season." As Donald would say, "Aw, Nuts!"
Despite the bad lyrics, I will give this cartoon a six for the animation
He and his devilish imps take The Goddess to Hell, literally, and she
is captured until the Devil lets her return to the World, where Winter is
cold and dark. When she comes back, everything melts. Spring has surely
come and they live happily ever after! Highlights include when one of the
imps play an organ and the others dance around a fire.
Walt Disney and his animators made a truly classic and strangely beautiful
little short. It is fascinating, scary and funny at the same time, with
great singing by uncredited people. The effects are really stunning and
ahead of their time. It was a precursor to the first length feature Snow
White and the Seven Dwarfs, so you could say they just warmed up for it.
But let's not forget The Goddess of Spring, a rarely seen milestone in animation
history. It is however worth all accolades it can be given. I love it.
In watching this short, though, I have to say that it seems as though that may not be correct. Or perhaps it’s a matter of perception. The subject of this film is Persephone, the titular goddess. But the form she takes seems no improvement on the porcelain dolls of
The China Shop. It seems like Persephone’s hair is porcelain or plastic, just like the dolls.
Persephone is a distinct figure, though, because it marks when the animators started trying to find their way in the human form. And there are some distinct differences between Persephone and her predecessors. Her facial expressions and design are much cleaner and more expressive. Her movements, while still a bit unnatural, are more fluid than other human like figures in the shorts to this point.
What I found interesting was that Pluto, the adversary of Persephone in this short, was a much more realistic figure except for his face. His manner of walking and gesturing seemed more real to me than Persephone’s broad gestures. There is the slight problem of his devilish face, though.
I guess I should discuss the melodrama of the story as well. Everything in this short is overwrought and dramatic, but it fits, because the story is about the work of the gods and how it affects us mere mortals on Earth.
Persephone opens the short by dancing amongst the spring like flora and fauna, but she is soon grabbed by Pluto, who erupts from the ground and steals her away. The consequence is that the Earth turns from Spring to Winter, as Persephone is taken away. Pluto can not make her happy, no matter how many jewels or gifts he gives her, so he agrees to let her go back to the surface temporarily, so long as she comes back.
Persephone’s return to the Earth melts the snow and returns the Spring, but only temporarily, as the chorus reminds us. This is supposed to be the explanation for the change of the seasons, which is a neat concept.
However, I have to say, that as a first step towards Snow White, I did not find Persephone very convincing. It could also be that she is featured so little in this short that it’s hard to make a good judgment. There is more focus on Pluto than on her. It’s a good short, but shows you how far Disney and his team would have to evolve between 1934 and 1937 to get Snow White out and make it the film it would become.
Of course, attempting something so ambitious was going to be something of a struggle and most of what I've read and heard about this short suggests that no one at the studio was satisfied with the animation in this cartoon. It's easy to laugh at this cartoon (I remember a my dad once at a clip of Persephone's dancing and I burst out laughing every single time I see that pathetic fawn crying in the snow), but it was this kind of ambition, aiming for what yet can't be achieved, that would lead to future achievements and acclaim for Disney.
Still it wouldn't be fair of me to focus only on what Disney couldn't quite achieve with this cartoon. The Hi-de-Hades is a knock-out and one of my all time favourite Disney scenes.
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