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31 March 2008

Disney the ecowarrior

By Grace Shortland

Lost artworks by Disney animators have been restored to America after being discovered in Chibo University, Japan. The works, hand-picked by Walt Disney, were sent to Japan in 1960 as part of an exhibition which coincided with the opening of Sleeping Beauty.

The display, which was designed to explain the various processes of animation, included rare images from the Oscar winning cartoon Flowers and Trees. No doubt the leafy theme of the discovered paintings pleased David Whitely, the Cambridge professor responsible for giving Disney a green make-over. Although Bambi and Nemo may not seem likely eco-warriors Whitely’s new book The Idea of Nature in Disney Animation suggests that they are in fact instrumental in conveying the green message to a new generation. He praises how Disney encourages children to relate to the natural world, describing each film as: “a cultural arena within which serious environmental issues can be rehearsed and explored.”

Forget April in Paris – next month New York will be the City of Love. Taking inspiration from the film Paris, Je T’aime (2006) the similarly narcissistic New York, I Love You will pull together a variety of directors, including Mira Nair and first-timer Scarlett Johansson. One key figure is missing however: Anthony Minghella. His feature for the series of short Manhattan based love stories (for which filming will begin next month) was one of a handful of projects that the British director had planned before his untimely death. However, Shekhar Kapur (Cold Mountain, Elizabeth) revealed this week that Minghella passed the work to him to complete shortly before he died. Writing in his blog, Kapur confirmed that Minghella had written his section of the Manhattan feature and discussed it with his chosen successor before his death: “He told me his film was about the value of life, and how people sometimes just throw away their lives unable to look beyond into the real beauty of it.” Not a crime Minghella could be accused of. Indeed Kapur’s earnest summary of Minghella’s intentions perhaps exposes some of the good-natured sentimentality which permeates The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency (according to The New Statesman’s Rachel Cooke).

The British-born singer Estelle, currently at No. 1 with her single American Boy, has hit out at the recent rise of groomed white soul singers. In an interview with the Guardian, Estelle questioned the authenticity of hit artists such as Adele and Duffy: “I’m not mad at ’em – but I’m just wondering, how the hell is there not a single black person in the press singing soul?” Estelle, who grew up in London, but only found success after taking her music to New York, also criticised the British Music Industry’s support of black singers. Could this be about to change? In a recent article for The New Statesman, Daniel Trilling discusses Reggae MC’s in England and their influence upon the future of the music industry.

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