My anticipation and excitement for Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs has me itching to watch more animation this month. I have very strong thoughts on modern animation, having grown up in the days before computers did absolutely everything. Back then, you could go to Disney World’s MGM Studios and actually watch artists use a pencil and paper to draw characters. I know, crazy right? If we’re talking animation, I think it’s essential to begin with Disney- the studio that turned this medium into a true cinematic artform. Although I love so many Disney animated features, my enduring favorite is undoubtedly The Sword in the Stone (DVD/Download).
Some might see this as an odd choice for me, since there is nary a ballgown or princess in sight. However what it lacks in unrealistic romantic ideals, The Sword in the Stone more than makes up for it in visual sumptuousness. When I watch this story of young Arthur toiling away in poverty, learning about science from Merlin the Wizard and Archimedes the Owl, I feel like I can actually see the blood, sweat, and tears that went into drawing each frame. Every line and color cell is visible to the naked eye, with the ultimate effect being a moving painting. This is something I don’t get today with the Pixar films, where everything looks a bit like a plastic toy, regardless of whether it’s a Toy Story sequel or not.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the magnificent, marvelous, mad Madam Mim. She pits good old-fashioned sorcery against Merlin’s scientific approach, but gosh what a delightful villain! Of any character in this film, she seems the most likely to relax with a cocktail after a day of wreaking havoc. While watching The Sword in the Stone, I recommend drinking a Mad Madam Mim Martini.
Mad Madam Mim Martini
1.5 oz vodka
1.5 oz cranberry juice
Dash of Grenadine
1 oz Blue Curacao
Raspberry Cocktail Caviar for garnish (slightly chilled)
Mix vodka, cranberry juice, and grenadine in a shaker filled with ice. Strain into a martini glass, then slowly layer blue curacao. Garnish with Cocktail Caviar balls (aka- the pox!)
1960’s Disney films have such a unique, gritty style that got lost in the Beauty and the Beast-era films of the 1990’s. Somewhere along the way, it became trendy to take the human element out of the equation. Maybe one day we’ll cycle back, but for now, watch this vintage gem and geek out on Merlin’s science lessons. After all, knowledge is true power. Cheers!