Big Love – Oh Brunhilda Edition

by John Holbo on May 18, 2014

If you think there’s the slightest chance that you would enjoy a book about Maurice Noble, who designed the backgrounds for all your favorite Warner Brothers cartoons (and a bunch of other animated works you love), you should get The Noble Approach: Art and Designs of Maurice Noble [amazon].

Fun fact: “The design motifs for What’s Opera, Doc? were inspired in part by the Kimberly Crest mansion in Redlands, California. Maurice spent part of his childhood in Redlands and had admired the gardens as a boy. The Kimberly Crest motif found its way into a number of Maurice’s designs, including the “Dance of the Hours” sequence of Fantasia.”



Look at this photo. Total Chuck Jones, What’s Opera, Doc? scene, isn’t it? And this one? Total Witch Hazel house.

But what I’m really laughing about is that this Fleetwood Mac video for “Big Love” – which is, in my expert opinion, great! – is also partially filmed at the Kimberly Crest mansion. And the Fleetwood Mac song is basically about the same themes. Some sort of mash-up should be possible. “Big big love” while Bugs rides languidly on that horse. “House on a hill”, “only to fall”. It’s got it all. Now if we can only get Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks to sing in chorus: “Love like ours must be/Made for you and for me”.

Getting back to the book – it’s chock full of fascinating animation history, as well as practical art instruction. Example:

Mary [Blair] and I [were] what you call “a thing” at one time, but Lee Blair had a car and he beat me out. It was the Depression, and she and I were the poor church mice of the school. Mary and I had painting and design classes together. After painting class, children who had a lot of money would often throw away leftover tubes of paint. Then Mary and I would pick the stuff out of the trash bin. She also used to take the paper towels out of the washroom and paint on them. Mary and I used to do a lot of sketching together, meeting at different places, drawing each other, and painting with watercolors.

Incredible. The two greatest background painters/designers in the history of animation – these two masters of color – dumpster-diving together for half-empty tubes of paint.



L.D. Burnett 05.18.14 at 6:58 pm

This is a fun post. I suspect I’m not the only low-to-middlebrow American whose first encounter with opera came via Bugs Bunny. I will always associate “The Barber of Seville” with flowers sprouting out of Elmer Fudd’s head. And I’m not sure whether I first heard of Leopold Stokowski via a Warner Brothers cartoon (where Bugs pretends to be “Leopold” to torment an uptight opera star) or via Fantasia. Either way, props to the popularizers; Dwight Macdonald can go suck eggs.


zbs 05.19.14 at 6:58 am

You may find difficulty getting Lindsey and Stevie to sing “Love like ours must be/Made for you and for me” (unless you let Lindsey do three ironic backing tracks).

I actually heard a pretty credible house remix of “Big Love” along the lines of your description at the Metropolitan Bar coupla years ago. You guys gotta get with it! Piketty would be a good name for a Looney Tunes character. Does Corey do animation, too? Belle must have a sequencer.

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