Friday, August 27, 2010

Only he could pull it off...

Ok, opinion time...

I admire Milt Kahl. I mean, what aspiring animator doesn't? But honestly, there's one thing that I have to say about Milt Kahl; he was a real hammy animator.

Don't get me wrong, his animation has a stupendous feeling of movement, weight, timing and believability. He can pull that off better than any other animator in the business, and that's something that always inspired me about him. But that's also kind of where he falters. I think that's why he could pull of characters like Peter Pan, Madame Medusa and Tigger, and not more emotionally driven characters like Frank or Ollie's. A lot of Milt's characters seem self aware, like they know they're putting on a show. They really chew the scenery sometimes.

The one thing that really stands out of Milt's work is what I like to call the "Milt Kahl head swaggle", where the character does this jaunty little head-tilting motion as they speak, usually when they're proud or giving some sort of affirming comment. It seems to be a trademark of his. Part of me loves it, and another part of me is really bothered by it, I don't know why that is. It's a very cocky gesture, which maybe (I wish I could say this without sounding too hurtful) seems to reflect Milt's own personality a bit. It's an extension of Milt's character.

Maybe I'm putting way too much thought into this, or I'm not analyzing it as much as I should. After all, nobody's perfect. But nonetheless, I still love Milt's animation. Edgar from The AristoCats, Brer Rabbit and Tigger are a few of my favorite animated characters. In fact, his introduction of Tigger in Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day is probably my absolute favorite piece of animation ever. Despite being usually very broad, his more underplayed characters like Shere Kahn or Alice have subtleties that even the most skilled animators aspire to. He is indeed an animation Michelangelo.

*Warning - do not attempt a "Milt Kahl head swaggle"© without proper protection or supervision. Do not perform near sharp objects or an open flame. And never swaggle your head while intoxicated or under the influence of prescription medication.


Retrogamersblog said...

You know its crazy, Up until now I never would have been able to point to another persona and say "That's a Milt Kahl head swaggle." But the second you said it I knew what you were talking about.
A fascinating read and an interesting perspective on an animation legend. Great Job.

Rubber Onion said...

head swaggle... that's possibly the greatest phrase ever uttered