Last week I reported on Fun and Fancy Free and made a declaration that it was “eeeeeeeeeasily my favorite.” Well guess what. I have a new favorite. And okay, I realize that didn’t take much! To avoid seeming unauthentic or giving the impression that my enthusiasm is contrived, I will remind you that there have been films so far that I haven’t loved, and may even recommend for you to skip (*coughFANTASIAcough*) and I intend to continue to give you my honest reactions. That being said, while I honestly loved Fun and Fancy, Melody was even better! I know I can give it my full endorsement as my now favorite packaged film because I watched it twice by choice, and can definitely say it will be playing in my house again in the very near future.
Disney’s fifth and final installment of packaged films from the 1940’s, Melody Time consists of 7 animated sequences, most, as the title suggests, set to music. The film falls in line with the packaged films before it, with yet another nod to South America in a sequence starring the now-familiar Donald and Jose Carioca, and Fantasia’s idea that a song is the best companion to carry a character through. The music score is contemporary, containing songs with lyrics to accompany the action on screen which, let’s face it, is much more fun than the classic score style in Fantasia.
The D23 blog synthesizes each of Melody’s cartoons perfectly. You can read their summary HERE.
As for my contribution, I’m going to deviate from the format a bit. Instead of throwing out the best pieces of the film, what I’m going to do is something a bit more difficult. I’m going to try to convey a feeling. It’s a feeling I have that others may not. More specifically, it’s a feeling I have about Disney that others may not have about Disney. But though they may not have the feeling about Disney, I’m certain they have it about something else.
Have you ever found yourself in a place where looking outside of your bubble makes things inherently stressful? Turn on the news: stress. Open your email: stress. Your daily routine is heavily influenced by a checklist of tasks that turn into a juxtaposition of satisfaction when you check something off and a little tightening in the chest as one thing leads to another and that list just grows. You find it hard to unwind because the guilt of the list eats at your free time. Talking with family seems like an escape until you start talking about the news again, the virus, the election, what’s happening with school… and really, it’s not so bad because you’re safe and you’re healthy and despite everything, you’re happy! You really cannot complain without feeling guilt about complaining either.
But you have something. Something that makes today’s challenges momentarily melt because this thing you have, it has meaning and memory from a time when you were younger and didn’t have to worry about things like work, or your community, or making dinner. And when you’re around that thing muscle memory kicks in and brings you back to that place.
This thing can be different things at different times. I’m a 31 year old woman and it isn’t Disney for me all the time. That would probably be weird. But sometimes, okay, often at 4:30 on a Tuesday after teaching Special Education through Zoom all day, it’s a film like Melody Time. It’s the buttery opening credits and Roy Rogers and my one year old melting into my lap because he’s just as into it as I am. Cartoons with faces I recognize from when I was young, from a time long before me when I imagine things were simpler (though I can’t confirm they felt that way then). Comfort, ease, simplicity, grabbing enough of my attention to fill the space in my brain that usually belongs to that to-do list, if only for an hour or so. It’s a welcomed distraction and it feels GOOD.
When a film elicits a feeling, it’s doing its job. When the film is animated, it’s even more impressive. Tack on the fact that the film is 72 years old and it’s still doing it? Yes. Yes. Yes.
Melody Time is available for viewing on Disney+, and I highly recommend it.