Holiday Entertainment – Silence is Golden

The Easter Holidays are officially over today.  Yep, this is the last day.  The last Friday, the last day the kids’ll be at home/out of school club/farmed out to relatives (hah! I wish!).  Well, the last day unless you count the “In-Service Training” day that’s been tacked on for Monday.  As if 2 weeks wasn’t long enough.

Anyway.  Given that the kids are at home, the weather has naturally turned to crap.  We’ve a blasting, lazy north wind howling past.  Any time you think “Yep, looks good enough to go to the park” you can guarantee that the hail/sleet/snow will come rushing past to disabuse you of any such foolish notions.

So the kids are watching Disney’s Aladdin while I write this.  I love Aladdin.  One of my favourite Disney animated movies.  Robin William’s performance as the Genie far outweighs my problems with their butchering of the story.  I mean, setting it in some fictional Arabian country?  C’mon, guys, read your sources! Aladdin was set in China!  And just the one Genie?  Get with the program!  You need a Genie of the Ring and a Genie of the Lamp!  Hallmark got it right (and John Leguizano gave superb performances as both of them)!  Even my daughter’s school panto got that right!  But my favourite character in the whole thing?  The Carpet.  Yep.  The Carpet.

Y’see, the Carpet doesn’t say a word.  It coveys a world of expression through simple posture and movement.  No voice to get in the way of the humour going straight from the animator’s wonderfully skilled hand to your brain.  Perfect.

And this got me thinking back to some of the other Disney movies I love, wondering if this is a pattern.

Quick pause to admire the hail-bow we’ve got outside at the moment.  It doesn’t take a decent picture but it’s strangely beautiful.

Tangled.  Disney’s take on the Rapunzel story, definitely influenced by Shrek in terms of humour, and possessing not one but two of these superb silent characters – Samson the horse and whatever the little Chameleon thing is called.  I’ve seen this movie a few times now as it’s first on whenever the kids get to their Granny’s house and this pair are nothing short of genius.  No amount of dialogue could convey the sheer depth of disdain Samson has for the thief than a single raised eyebrow.  Priceless.

Wallace and Grommit.  Okay, so not Disney, but nonetheless.  If you want to see a masterclass in the raising of a single eyebrow, you need look no further than Grommit.  Nick Park deserves deification for what he’s achieved with plasticene.

Ice Age.  The Squirrel.  Scraps?  Scrats? Thing1 informs me he doesn’t have a name.  But as @Daddacool has just reminded me, he’s one who entertains without fail and without uttering a word.  Gets me just there every time Sid brings him back from the dead.  And that quivering lip when he realises he’s just set off the volcano?

Star Wars – R2D2?  Not exactly silent but close enough for government purposes.

Sometimes all the witty dialogue in the world just gets in the way.  Nick Park could very easily have given Grommit the voice so many people (especially Americans, sorry) think he has.  Any Disney character at all could get a voice and nothing more would be thought about it.  It takes guts to keep a character silent (and the odd whinny doesn’t count, Samson).

Now I haven’t seen The Artist yet – warned off picking up any pirate copies (black and white, no sound…) – but I love Mel Brooks’ Silent Movie – the only spoken line in the entire thing is delivered by Marcel Marceau!  Looking forward to it hitting DVD so I can find out just how good this dog is.

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