Sunday, January 13, 2008

Freeze Frame! - Maurice at the Crossroads

In the past, we have pointed out Freeze Frame! homages to characters from Beauty and the Beast--the Beast in Aladdin, and Mrs. Potts and Chip in Tarzan--but the film itself has one especially interesting detail of note.

When Belle's father Maurice becomes lost in the woods, a post of weather-worn direction signs provides little in the way of help. Likely because the faded letters indicate destinations not typically found in a fantasy-based France of long ago. Most distinct are the locations of Anaheim and Valencia. While the reference to Anaheim is an obvious hat tip to Disneyland, there seems to be competing theories among Disney fans as to the meaning of Valencia. The obvious connection is that Valencia is the home of CalArts, the Disney-founded performing arts institute. Many of the school's alumni worked on Beauty and the Beast.

Less likely, in my opinion, is the idea that the signs represent the perceived theme park rivalry between Disneyland and Valencia's Magic Mountain. A third sign, above the others and slightly obscured, has been identified by some as Newhall, a community not far from Valencia. That and other near-indecipherable signs on the post likely represent locations that bear personal connections to animators and other talent who worked at Walt Disney Feature Animation during the production of the film.

2 comments:

1983horizons1 said...

This is very cool. I would never have been able to pick up on these if someone didn't point them out though.

rjrrzube said...

I always thought the connection WAS about the theme parks. After all, instead of taking the brightly-lit path (Anaheim), Belle's father took the trail into trouble (Valencia), and ended up a prisoner.

Regardless, I still remember laughing out loud at an inappropriate moment when I first saw that sign on the big screen! Nobody knew what was going on!