Silly Symphony: “Playful Pan” (1930)

The Greek God Pan comes to Earth, coaxing music and dance out of the flora and fauna. Lightning strikes start a fire that nearly burn everything. Pan uses his music to lure the flames into a nearby pond where they are safely extinguished.

“It’s a Greek Life” (1936)

One of the final shorts produced by Van Beuren Studios, the 25th entry in their Rainbow Parade series. A centaur cobbler is hired to to repair Mercury’s flying sandals with the help of a couple ducks. Instead of getting the job done, he takes the sandals on a fun flight over the Greek landscape while the ducks antagonize him. Mercury returns before the centaur has completed the job and mischief ensues. The characters have stereotypical Italian accents and there’s lots of clever animated play with the sculpture.

Silly Symphony: “The Golden Touch” (1935)

One of Disney’s several early engagements with ancient material in the musical shorts series produced from 1929-39. “The Golden Touch” tells the story of King Midas, though in a medieval setting. Other myth-based Silly Symphonies shorts include “Playful Pan” (1930), “King Neptune” (1932) and “The Goddess of Spring” (1934). Most famous, however, are those based on Aesop’s fables, including “The Grasshopper and the Ants” (1934) and “The Tortoise and the Hare” (1935) which won an Academy Award.

Silly Symphony: “The Goddess of Spring” (1934)

9 min./ USA / dir. Wilfred Jackson

One of Disney’s Silly Symphonies, this classic film follows the plot of the myth of Persephone, yet its imagery evokes a Biblical-style Hell with its Satanic main character. It features operatic singing and jazz-inflected music throughout. Its production was important to the creation of Disney’s first feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, as it allowed animators to develop their skills in designing human figures.

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