Captain Hook: Peter, I’m your father!

(Nota: Pentru ca vreau sa ma remarc si pe plan local (you know me! 🙂 ), voi incepe o serie de posturi in engleza despre locurile unde merg. Bine, ideal ar fi sa le scriu in daneza, dar mai e drum lung pina acolo. Va rog sa-mi lasati un comment daca e ok asa, sau preferati sa pun si varianta in romana pentru fiecare. Tak! :)) 


What a bliss for my soul to spend half of a Friday with a bunch of people that are into stories business. What an unexpected joy to discover new things about the stories which I grew up with, and to experience this kind of breaking news as the only one I want to hear about – headlines from the fairy kingdom. For example, did you know that Captain Hook was Peter Pan’s father? And that he stands out for every teenager’s father more or less? I didn’t, as I did not know a lot of things that I found out at the “H.C. Andersen and Disney Seminar”, event to follow the opening of the exhibition at Brandts.

Odense takes storytelling very serious and this is the main raison I’ve moved here. This being said, I couldn’t miss the opening event of Disney Storytelling exhibition on 29 September. It seems over 2000 people thought the same and this exhibition has just set a visitors record for the opening evening in the Brandts history.

Disney’s Art of Storytelling tells, for the first time, the story behind the creation of some of the most well-known Disney characters from stories inspired from Hans Christian Andersen stories. You can find out a lot of information during the tour of the exhibition (which is opened till March 2017).

I will tell you what I have found out about it during the “H.C. Andersen and Disney Seminar”.
Mary Walsh, Managing Director of the Animation Research Library at Walt Disney Studios revealed aspects of their never – ending – activity at the Library: to keep and preserve in best conditions all pieces of art ever created in the Disney Studios (around 65 million). Every drawing is handled with care (and gloves), scanned, photographed, archived so it enters into a digital library that can be accessed by anyone that works at Disney. The data base is called GEMS and is for animators what Facebook is for the rest of the people (internal joke at Disney) – a space where you can spend your life. It is also a resource of inspiration, the matrix. For example, the animals from Zootropolis were inspired from the “Robin Hood” animation characters, a decision taken by the lead animator who was a fan of the latest.

But not all the characters were born from pre-existing models. Some of them needed a president’s wife intervention to come to being the way we know them. Mary told us that Roosevelt’s wife called Walt Disney one day to suggest him to make a short film with Mickey to teach children take good decisions in life. “Ok, I’ll see what I can do”, replied Disney. As Mickey was already the good guy, Disney chose Donald Duck to take up this mission. “Donald’s better self “ is that short film.
And as the work of a blogger is sometimes undercover, I snapped for you a little explanation about why Donald Duck is so loved in Denmark. (It is a little excerpt from a Disney album that can be bought – and in mu case it will be bought – as it tops my Christmas wishing list).
“Donald Duck and Danish mentality go together. He is so Danish and not American like Mickey Mouse who is a very politically correct. Anders is so politically incorrect that he seems Danish”. Sarah associates Donald Duck with particular Danish values and a Danish way of being – The Ugly Duckling that deviates from the norm and does things his own, unruly way. Adult Danes do not wholeheartedly embrace Disney’s narrative universe as an expression of American popular culture, but rather use the universe to express a national sense of belonging by creating cultural differentiation. Where Mickey Mouse is historically best known and most beloved figure in many countries, Donald Duck wins that prize in Denmark”.
And one more thing that really surprised me and made me appreciate Disney even more (if possible) was that nowadays, as all the animations are done on computers there is no need to model characters into clay sculptures. However, they are still doing this, to respect tradition and to have characters for exhibitions. Elsa from Frozen is an example that can be seen at this exhibition.

Jacob Boggild (Professor MSO) at the Hans Christian Andersen Center and Torsten Bogh Thomsen (Phd Student) got into more details about the fairy tales structures, characters names and mainly the transformations the original stories have went through. Their speeches really pointed out that stories are living creatures, transforming, adapting, compromising, getting a way to get to as many people as possible. The Disney versions as we know them may have left behind the original sad endings for example, but what’s this as compared to the joy they have brought in so many lives? This is the subject of a debate itself I don’t have the knowledge to conduct and sustain, so I let you think of this. And maybe of why do you think Andersen didn’t gave names to some characters (Little Mermaid), but Disney did? And how do you feel about the re-writing of one of the canon of fairytales we assist: now it is not about the princess dreaming of marring the perfect prince, but empowering the female characters and following them in their inner battle of accepting who they are and changing the world.

Mads Sohl Jessen (Postdoc at The Hans Christian Andersen Center) told the story of the Andersen short biopic that was to be produced by Disney but never was. A significant work of art and research was done at the time (late 1930s and early 1940) but abandoned in 1943 because of war.

Last, but not least I fully enjoyed the speech of Johns Norregaard Frandsen (professor at The Hans Christian Andersen Center) which provided me the exact quantity and quality of the breaking news on Peter Pan topic: Hook as being the father, the crocodile as being the death always hovering around, the fact that every century was “opened” by a magical kid: Peter Pan in XX Century, Harry Potter in XXI century. Putting things in this perspective really restored my faith in humanity and stories and made me think there is a Peter Pan trapped there inside of this man talking. In the end, I wanted to listen to him even more. That’s why I presented myself and kind of self-invited at the HC Andersen Center.
There was something in the passion and humor  that made me want to “follow the story” more and make of this my special mission in Odense.

Cresc copii, povesti si visuri.

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