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November 21, 1989 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1989-11-21

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ARTS
Tuesday, November 21, 1989

the Michigan Daily

Page 5

Mermaid:
A siren
for all
0ages

California

Gold

Joyful author examines the American dream

BY TONY SILBER

Animated films in American cin-
ema are generally underrated and
misunderstood. They are regarded as
insignificant children's entertain-
ment, but this common perception
may be on the way out the revolving
door of movie tastes. Walt Disney
Pictures, the constant in animated
feature films for the last 50 years,
has released its 28th animated fea-
ture, and it's obvious that The Little
Mermaid is aiming to entertain ev-
eryone out there, not just the kids.
Disney exhausted every ounce of
talent from its animation arsenal for
The Little Mermaid, the studio's
first animated fairy tale since Cin-
derella 30 years ago. The film is
simply wonderful, start to finish.
Enormously entertaining in its in-
novative Broadway-like approach,
the appeal value for this film should
be apparent in every area of the mar-
ket. The story is simple, of course,
but not any more simplistic or trite
than most of today's live action fea-
ture releases.
Ariel (voice of Jodi Benson) is a
beautiful, young mermaid in search
of love, but she unexpectedly finds it
with a human prince. The evil squid
Ursula (voice of Pat Carroll) will
make Ariel human and allow her to
pursue the prince, but at a price -
her beautiful singing voice. On the
surface the story seems adolescent at
best, but at its core it is a love
story, sweet and simple. It is obvi-
ous by a film such as The Little

Ariel (left) makes a deal with the devil - or in this case, the squid Ursula
- to become human. This Ariel no longer wants to be trapped under the
sea, either.

Mermaid that realism is less impor-
tant than pure charm value. Anima-
tion gives it that liberty whereas
with live action films, the account-
ability to realistic characters and
plots is necessary.
The Little Mermaid distin-
guishes itself from the start as
unique in the scope of the traditional
animated film. It is a musical fan-
tasy with many musical textures and
slapstick elements. The showstop-
ping numbers, sad ballads, and love
songs typical of many musicals are
intact here, but it is amazing that the
quality of the music, lyrics, and ar-
rangements in the film is so high,
especially in a "children's film."
These are dynamic and entertaining
numbers with catchy tunes and lyrics
that will stay in your heads well
after the final credits. Look for
"Under the Sea" to show up on the
Best Original Song list at the
Academy Awards.
From an animation standpoint,
The Little Mermaid is flawless. Us-
ing over 400 artists and technicians
over a three year period, over 1,100
backgrounds, 1000 colors, and

1,000,000 drawings - it's no won-
der the animation is so crisp. As for
the vocal talents, the whole cast is
terrific. Benson's sweet, dulcet
voice, Carroll's dynamic fire and sin-
ister excitement, and Buddy Hack-
ett's slew of one liners keep the in-
terest level high during the non-mu-
sical interludes. But Sebastian, the
calypso crab (Samuel Wright) is the
real treat in this yarn. The stubborn
and lovable guardian of Ariel is re-
sponsible for some terrific songs as
well as some kitsch dialogue like
"You're not getting cold fins, are
you?"
Call it a G-rated children's car-
toon if you like, but at least give
The Little Mermaid a look. The
film is wonderfully entertaining
throughout and the music, dialogue,
and story can be appealing to any-
one. The Romeo and Juliet-like
story will never fade away in litera-
ture or film and The Little Mermaid
is an innovative and fun version of
that loveastory that is sure to bring a
smile to anyone of any age.
THE LITTLE MERMAID is now
showing at Showcase Cinemas.

BY CAROLYN PAJOR
"WE'RE on earth with the obligation to entertain
ourselves," says Herbert Gold, author of over 20 books
of novels and short stories. "Writing is a great joy, a
festival." Gold explores the possibilities of life as a fes-
tival in many of his novels. In his latest novel, Dream-
ing, we see Hutch, a successful salesman who busily
pursues the American dream (along with the tailing of
tired blonds) in terms of money and the imitation of
youth in glitzy California. Yet Hutch's festival is as
ironic as it is superficial and corrupt, and therefore
serves as a critique of the flimsy shallowness that Gold
sees - shallowness that is not limited to California.
Still, California is a favorite backdrop for Gold; he
sees it as "the real world, but special and different - it
is entertaining bcause of the amount of freedom it has."
He calls it "a strange frontier of grooviness, where you
can define yourself any way you want because there are
no roots." Not only can people change their name to
suit themselves, but Gold says "they can change their
race and start afresh." He says that in California,
"people have the energy to treat themselves as active
sculptures to shape any way they want."
But Herbert Gold does not limit himself to Cali-
fornia. Although he never went to school here, one of
his earlier novels, The Optimist, is set in Ann Arbor.
We see the timeless custom of lovers kissing in the
Arb, we hear the Bell Tower chime. Gold also has not
limited himself to writing novels. He began by writing
and publishing his poetry in college, and continues to-
day while keeping it private. Gold has taught classes in
philosophy and writing and has been a journalist. He
cites journalism's inherent usefulness in that it teaches
one about the real world, and gives writers a subject
matter to write about "instead of scraping out their
Oedipus complexes." And if he was not a writer, Gold
says that he would be "a professional racquetball
player.
It must keep him young, as Gold says "I'm 27 but
I've been writing for 40 years," in the true spirit of Cal-
ifornian youthful vigor. He still feels like a young man,
and says he "will probably be a 'young' writer until I
die." Despite this, he says that his writing has changed
and become clearer, and not convoluted with the "verbal
delirium and rhetoric" that mark young, verbose writers.

Herbert Gold refuses to take the favored writer's route
of writing about oneself, preferring to get his ideas from
the real world.
He urges writers to read every day: "People learn by do-
ing; they learn to have something to say. Writing
begets writing."
Hutch eventually fails in his quest of the California
dream as the curtain falls on his empty bankbook and
his fleeting youth. Glib unto his last breath, Hutch
thinks "fancy that" as he sees his previously forgotten
mother at the point of death. The festival is over for
Hutch, though for Herbert Gold, it just may last another
40 years.
HERBERT GOLD will be reading from his book of
short stories, LOVERS AND COHORTS, and also from
his new short story, "Sam and Jan Get Their AIDS
Test" in Rackham Amphitheatre at 4 p.m. Bring ydur
tofu.

MozartFest: An original success

J

BY SHERRILL L. BENNETT

It's a feud older and more fierce than the Hat-
fields and the McCoys - performers vs. musi-
cologists Performers say "trust your musical in-
stincts"; musicologists say "trust the score and
the composers markings" - and the battle pro-
gresses. But neither group objects to a momep-
tary cease-fire to honor, with the best of their in-
tuition and research, one of history's greatest
composers, W. A. Mozart. Thus, the MozartFest
was born.
This three-day series of symposiums and con-
certs focused on Mozart's signature genre, the pi-
ano concerto, ten of which were performed. The
symposiums were full of scholarly fireworks.
Topics ranged from the nuts and bolts of individ-
ual concertos to the relationship of Mozart's con-
certo form to opera. Theorists, music historians
and performers all participated, passionately de-
bating their beliefs, yet open to different perspec-
tives (usually more the former than the latter).
The concerts had another atmosphere. They re-
flected the one majority agreement amongst fes-
tival participants - original instruments. Local

and guest musicians offered their skill and their
antique ins.riments. "My violin comes from
1831," said Sarah Sumner, specialist in Baroque
performance practice at the University School of
Music, "but many of the other strings are from
the 1700s." Sumner, along with other members
of the Ann Arbor-based Ars Musica Baroque
Orchestra, performed with the concerto soloists
for all the concerts. Each soloist used a different
version of the fortepiano of Mozart's time, a
smaller, more nimble instrument than todays
grand piano. Its delicate sonority gave the con-
certs an intimate appeal unmatched by any
Steinway.
After each concerto, a different fortepiano was
hauled on stage, accompanied by a different
orchestra combination - more winds, less
strings, facing each other, facing the audience,
fortepiano in front, in the middle, on risers, etc.
The constantly changing stage set-up and orches-
tration reflected the pioneering spirit of the festi-
val, exploring all possible combinations that
Mozart might have used - including Mozart's
economic alternative, one on a part.

Conductor Roger Norrington, a pedagogue in
the field, graciously lent his expertise to the fes-
tival. Robert Levin, an 18th century performance
expert played an outstanding interpretation of K.
491, complete with improvised cadenzas -
pretty gutsy for a classical musician and an abso-
lute thrill for the audience.
The festival was a great success in all areas
but student participation. The exorbitant cost of
the festival was out of reach for many students
and although some usher positions were avail-
able, they were not exclusively for students, and
not widely advertised. Members of Oxford, Cor-
nell, and USC student bodies were all present in
greater numbers than from the University of
Michigan. The absence of University students
left a gap in the festival that could have been
filled by student rush tickets, the Musical Soci-
ety's form of encouragement.
Despite this one fault, the University Musical
Society should be applauded for its contribution
to the recent surge of interest in original perfor-
mance practice of the 18th century.

GET IT!
The Personal Column
MICHIGAN DAILY CLASSIFIED ADS
The Ivy League Spring
in New York
Qualified upperclassmen are invited to apply for admissioh to
Columbia College as visiting students beginning in January
1990. Full access to housing, library resources, and upper divi-
sion courses. For further information and an application, write
or call:
Columbia College Admissions Office
212 Hamilton Hall
New York, New York 10027
(212) 854-2522
Application deadline: December 15, 1989

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