Silly Symphonies

film 6 of 61

Mother Goose Melodies

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jul 6, 2015

The Mother Goose verses are too short to be adapted into stories. Unless they’re first expanded unto bloatation, and then adapted into stories that is. But as originally, the Mother Goose verses are charmingly too small. However, charmingly too small turns out to be perfect for the musical, choreographical and gag/comical dimensions typical of some of the sweetest Sillies.

Mother Goose Melodies isn’t the best of these, but it gives a good idea of how they work. What happens is similar to Franz Liszt’s idea of thematic transformation, which could turn from the dramatic expanses of the sonata form (symphonies, concertos, etc.), opting instead for smaller sets of variations, played out on smaller stages or canvases. Brian Wilson, in his own time and place, came up with something similar which he called “feels”.

So, here. We have a broad visual expanse, with numerous planes of depth. Within that expanse there are lots of groupings, little tableaux and vignettes with little bits of action within. The camera captures and focuses on something, a little conflict, a glancing affectionate exchange, some pretty dance. The action is completed, and then replaced by some modulation or augmentation of it in another part of the broader expanse.

Musically, Liszt’s practice can conceivably be courteous to beginners, whether they’re playing or just listening. (Leaving aside the difficulty of so many of Liszt’s actual compositions.) Same with these stories, or maybe these sub/pre-stories. What may appear inconsequential for the adventurous might just be perfect for the nursery, and the little ones residing there.