Friday, 27 October 2017

The Little Mermaid in Paris and Copenhagen

gaslighthouse.blogspot.com The Little Mermaid Disney Ariel Hans Christian Andersen The Magdalen with the Smoking Flame Louvre Paris
Some days you will find yourself in a Disney film, not literally. To be fair, I saw this painting before I saw The Little Mermaid (I began watching Disney princess films only when my daughter started watching them) and so when I saw the cartoon version, I went, I know I have a picture with that same painting somewhere! I thought it was just the perfect painting to depict the curiosity of a young mermaid who hasn't had any experience with fire.

The painting of the lady is called The Magdalen with the Smoking Flame and it appears in that part of The Little Mermaid when Ariel sings Part of your world. She has lots of treasures in the film from shipwrecks, and presumably, she rescued this painting and is now part of her collection. I saw this painting in the flesh at the Louvre many years ago (that weekend in Paris is published over at Wilderness House Literary Review as Paris, a party, now and always. Go and have a read if you've got time!).
The Magdalen with the Smoking Flame, oil on canvas, circa 1638-1640, is by Georges de la Tour (France, Vic-sur-Seille, 1593-1652). La Tour's early training is still a matter for speculation, but in the province of Lorraine he encountered the artist Jean Le Clerc, a follower of the Italian painter Caravaggio. From this source likely came La Tour's concern with simplicity, realism, and essential detail. Mary Magdalen was traditionally depicted in her grotto or as an aged woman. The absence of explicit narrative in this painting emphasizes Mary's state of mind and heart rather than time and place. The simple composition of vertical and horizontal shapes draws the viewer into the Magdalen's contemplative world. The skull, books of Scripture, and scourge set the mood, but the chief symbol and true subject of the work is the candle at which Mary gazes in her meditation. Rendered in extraordinary detail and modulation, it emits the light that followers of St. John of the Cross called "the living flame of love," toward which spiritual pilgrims are drawn out of the "dark night of the soul." La Tour scrupulously conveys the tactile quality of surfaces. The polished skull and leather books have different reflective qualities; Mary's heavy skirt, thin, wrinkled blouse, smooth flesh, and hair are meticulously distinct. Each spare detail is carefully regulated to achieve an overall balance of form and light.

The picture on the lower left is of me by the statue of The Little Mermaid in her true home in Copenhagen, Denmark, as of course, the fairy tale was written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen (I have yet to read the original fairy tale). This trip is from more than a decade ago back when I was still studying in Scandinavia, but it deserves a different post, maybe some other time. Let's just say that a classmate/fellow traveller, whilst we were visiting the Carlsberg Visitors Centre, accidentally deleted all the fantastic photos she took of the city because she got tipsy. Later she good-naturedly blamed me for it as she drank all the free beer that I had refused to drink.
gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Tangled Rapunzel Flynn Rider Eugene Maximus frying pan Disney
Screenshot from the movie Tangled, 2010, when Flynn Rider
is fighting Maximus the horse using a frying pan. 

Growing up, I loved Dyesebel, the Filipino take on this mermaid and I also enjoyed Splash with Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah. The Little Mermaid, even with its reputation as having brought Disney back to its glorious days, is not my favourite Disney film. On a related note, I didn't really take to Rapunzel as a child but I just posted on Instagram yesterday how Tangled is my favourite Disney movie. Different media have different impacts, that's just the way it is.

I could watch Tangled over and over again. I wish it was as popular as Frozen. Flynn Rider must be the funniest, wittiest Disney prince/thief ever. I loved how Zachary Levi voiced this role, he's got a great singing voice, too and it doesn't hurt that he looks just like Flynn Rider :) The sad scenes make me tear up all the time. And that bridge in the film always reminds me of Charles Bridge in Prague. Haven't seen this year's TV movie or series with the same actors, so that's another thing to look forward to.

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