Monday, October 29, 2012
If you've ever seen Disney's Fantasia, the first one I mean, these figures will be strangely familiar to you. Disney ripped off the whole Night on Bald Mountain segment from Murnau's 1926 silent classic, Faust (even that big devil-guy with the wings). These skeletal horses are a million times scarier than anything Disney ever copied: I defy you to turn out all the lights, and put it on full-screen.
Preferably on Halloween night.
I have a strange history with this clip. Years and years ago, probably in the early '80s, my husband and I were visiting Edmonton with the kids. We did this periodically to avoid suffocating in the small town we lived in. When we arrived at the hotel, somebody put the TV on, and I swear THIS came on, the hideous horsemen. The music that went with it was very, very strange, not like this prancing dignified orchestral stuff. It was just about as hideous as the animation and went backwards as much as forwards. Then the whole thing just sort of stopped and went back to MTV or whatever it was. I have no idea who had taken this footage and played with it like that, and over the years I began to wonder if I had imagined the whole thing. (I drank quite a bit in those days.)
Then a lot more time went by. Probably eight or so years ago, a strange documentary came on TV. It was in French with an English voice-over and I haven't been able to find it since, though I think I found a reference to it on IMDB. The movie was all about "influences" on Walt Disney's animation: in other words, how much he stole, and where he stole it from.
At a certaint point the French narrator began to go on and on about Fantasia, and in particular Night on Bald Mountain. Then they showed the clip of the skeletal horses, the horsemen from hell - and I realized with a shock, that was IT, that was the clip that made my insides quiver all those years ago!
So I had something to go on, a title at least: Murnau's Faust. This was before YouTube however, so I had to squirrel away the information. Then for a while there was no mention of it on YouTube. No one had pirated it yet.
If you go away for a while, then come back, you'll almost always find what you want. Here it is, in all its hideous glory. Fun! Fun! October 31!