affection for the now departed Avenant (she never admitted itrnto him), La Belle is a little disturbed by the Prinee’s resemblancernto Avenant—actually, by this time she preferred him asrnLa Bete (and so do we).rnDisney’s ending is less ambivalent, attempting somethingrnthat suggests the people at Disney have studied literary criticism.rnJ. R. R. Tolkien in “On Fairy-Stories” defines the oppositernof the catastrophe, the eucatastrophe, the sudden and unexpectedrngood, so unlooked for that it takes the breath awayrnand gives a glimpse of evangelion, the good news beyond hopernand even beyond imagination. For Tolkien this is the heart ofrnthe fairy tale. As Beast dies and the rose loses its last petal.rnBelle tells him that she loves him. The rain and her tearsrnmingle. But then the rain begins to turn iridescent, and thernbody of Beast is lifted off the ground by a power that suspendsrnit in midair. Light streams from inside the body, andrnBeast is transformed from within. He returns from death andrnis now the Prince, who weds Beauty. The castle, which isrnmostly covered with nightmare figures and gargoyles, is washedrnby the rain and light into a Rococo chateau, and the demonsrninto cherubs. The movie strikes deep chords here: Redemptionrnand Transformation through a sacrificial Love-Death.rnDisney Studios has always had a taste for capturing thernessence of a place. Peter Pan is filled with scenes ofrnJ. M. Barrie’s London (now lost forever to the Blitz and development).rnBeauty and the Beast is a study in the Frenchrnchateau: Disney’s dark castle is a composite of many in France,rnembellished and amplified, to the delight of the architecturalrnhistorian who recognizes snippets of Chenonceaux and Chambord,rnbits of Versailles, and a little of the Orangerie thrown togetherrnand multiplied. The beast’s chateau in its monstrousrnstate recalls the incrustations of French Gothic, where therngargoyles stand for the distortion and deformity implicit inrnthe disordered state of evil.rnWhen the cleansing rain of tears comes, the dark chateau isrntransformed into an evocation of the playful, erotic beautyrnof the Classical and Rococo pleasure palace. It is the architecturernproper to the fairy-tale ending, the Never-Never Landrnof magical eroticism and romance implied by “happily ever after.”rnIs this a caricature? a cliche? a fondly recognized truism?rnIs it art? or a theatrical parody of art?rnMore than architecture is being parodied here. The Gothicrnhorror of the eadier chateau recalls the caricature-stereotypernof the horror movie set as much as any genuine monument.rnThe rousing of the villagers mentioned above is a direct descendantrnof the Frankenstein genre. The ballroom scene recallsrnmany a romantic black-and-white (probably now colorized)rncostume piece from the 1940’s. Beauty and the Beastrnexchange snappy banter like a cartoon Hepburn and Tracy,rnand the two burst into song in the conventional pattern ofrnthe musical comedy, or, more exactly, the Viennese lightrnopera. Disney uses theatrical and cinematic stereotypes-cumclichesrnas a form of gentle caricature, fondly acknowledging hisrnsources, just as Cocteau did with the fairy-tale types, to abstractrnand explore truths about males and females in relationships.rnIf Disney’s sex-role stereotyping flirts with censure in thernpresent political climate (though Beauty has yet to be tarredrnwith the same brush as poor Lady), its political tendenciesrnas revealed in animated cinema should be a logical target forrnp.c. wrath. Fantasia is a case in point. Disney’s Fantasiarnwas released on videocassette in 1991, but the doyens of politicalrncorrectness have not yet pounced upon the ultimaternsin: cinematic fascism. We most recently saw the movie duringrnthe Persian Gulf War, in a restored 1930’s movie palace.rnThe manager, after asking ladies to remove their hats, saidrnthat the screening would be preceded by a newsreel fromrn1940, the events of which had chilling resemblance to thernevents of our own day. He said that just as the audience ofrn1940 escaped from the news of the day into the new type ofrnentertainment that Fantasia represented, we could for a whilernescape our own problems.rnThe Movietone newsreel, narrated by Lowell Thomas, containedrna summary of the events of I940. It was not a happyrnyear: the evacuation from Dunkirk, the shelling of the Frenchrnfleet in North Africa by the British, the bombing of Chungkingrnby the Japanese, Roosevelt’s attempts to rally the democraciesrnagainst Hitler, Chamberlain’s fall and funeral andrnChurchill’s accession, the bombing of London and Coventry,rnthe preparations for mass conscription in the UnitedrnStates. These events were more than sufficient cause for anxiety.rnBut when Fantasia immediately followed, it became clearrnthat the Disney film was not simply an escape from the terrorsrnof life. The title was aptly chosen: fantasy, dreams, and mythrnare a means to transform our anxieties and to somehow enablernthe mind to deal with them or at least bear them. Whenrnimagination transforms our anxieties, it gives at least the illusionrnthat we somehow control them.rnIt was clear from the start that Disney accepted thernFuhrerprinzip. The Nazi version of the Great Man theory hadrnits roots in the Romantic conception of the artist as titanic creator.rnIn the 18th century the first violinist was the conductor;rnhis job was to make sure everyone played on key and startedrnand stopped at the same time. By contrast the Romanticrnconductor was a Great Man, a creator, who ruled massivernmovements of sound by his genius and force of will. ModrisrnEksteins, in his book Rites of Spring: The Great War and thernBirth of the Modem Age, examines how the aestheticization ofrnpolitics transposed this concept into the image of the politicalrnleader. In Fantasia, the ten-times-life-size image of the conductorrnLeopold Stokowski is like the gigantic statues of the ancientrnworld or their successors in both democratic and totalitarianrnsocieties of the I940’s. In the newsreel, Roosevelt andrnChurchill were shown orchestrating opposition to fascism,rnproviding leadership to the masses, just as Stokowski brings orderrnout of chaos by imposing his will in leading the PhiladelphiarnOrchestra. The brief jam session of symphonic jazz thatrnthe musicians engage in during one of Fantasia’s entr’actes isrnplay, not the serious business of music.rnDisney pursues the theme throughout Fantasia. MickeyrnMouse (the Common Man or Everymouse) takes the role ofrnthe conductor in the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” sequence andrnfinds it too much for him. One broom is too much for him torncontrol, and the massed army of splinter-grown brooms (this isrn1940) frighteningly engulfs him. He cannot impose his will inrnthe least. He is powerless. Not so the Sorcerer, the GreatrnMan. A single gesture of his hands, like Stokowski’s, brings thernorchestrated broom-terror to a halt. Most menacing of all,rnin the final sequence, the Devil in the Night on Bald Mountainrnalso conducts a fiendish symphony of torment. The conductor’srngestures, impotent with Mickey Mouse, creative withrnStokowski, powerful with the Sorcerer, become terrifying asrn22/CHRONICLESrnrnrn