Considering Merryweather

I’ve been considering the weather a lot lately, as have most of us in Los Angeles and all parts East. I’m particularly annoyed with all this rain, especially since I have been a small victim of the flood – not only did I have some damage in my home, but I actually got stuck in Topanga Canyon over the weekend unable to drive out due to road closures (and thus my lack of a post for Monday!).

While I was “away,” Amid put up his great note about Eyvind Earle which reminded me of watching the “Sleeping Beauty” Special Edition DVD release on New Year’s Day. Like many, I hadn’t really watched the whole movie since childhood so it was a real treat and a great way to ring in 2005.

Although Earle’s work sometimes, at least to me, overwhelms the viewer – hard to find the characters at some moments – it is really stunning. It also makes me wonder what he might have done with a digital palette. Would he have shunned the medium or embraced it?

More than Earle’s contribution though, I was taken with Ollie and Frank’s work on the three fairies, Flora, Fauna and Merryweather. My particular favorite is Merryweather for her pouts, moodiness and ability to come up with the right answer at the right time (for which she never gets credit). I think she’s one of the most charming and overlooked characters in animation and I really love what Ollie and Frank have to say about the creation of her character in “The Illusion of Life”:

“…Now we had to find the best way to play Merryweather against that character Flora. [They're talking here about Flora's ability to grasp the big concept of what was going on.] What if she had better ideas than Flora, especially in times of crisis? Then the frustration of having to do it Flora’s way would pay off. She could have a reason to argue with Flora, and this type of conflict would liven up their relationship. Also, maybe she is more impulsive and quick to act – more of a doer than the others but without an understanding of the big events around her. She would be interested in little things and how things looked and would volunteer to do the housework. We thought she would love to dance and to be happy and to express herself physically. Her feelings would be on the surface, and she would flare up in anger more readily than the others.”

Merryweather is a true expression of the weather and definitely how we feel when confronted with its many beauties and frustrations. More power to the legends Ollie and Frank for not only lending life to a particularly challenging trio, but for making each one so distinctive. For me the fairies, and Merryweather in particular, make this movie and remind me that there really is a lot of good in a little storm.