Thursday, November 12, 2015

Atlantis: The City Where Faceless Background Characters Go

So, after an almost 2 1/2 year break from this blog that I started, I am now back. College just was a bit too writing intensive to have started a blog during to be sure, but now I am done with my bachelors degree and am ready for action. Note: I did not study writing, English, or anything like that in college, so forgive my writings if they contain errors.

Atlantis: The City Where Faceless Background Characters Go...

To Literally Die.

Tonight I re-watched Atlantis for probably the dozenth time... perhaps more. It was one of those semi-older Disney movies I just never got around to watching as a kid. Yet, it has many interesting things about it... especially for an Anthropology/Archaeology major like myself. Even if the history, etc. are not accurate it is still an interesting and underrated Disney movie. It has humor, action, romance, history, 'magic,' flying fish planes, a 'Journey to the Center of the Earth' feel at times, and even some strong morals tossed in for good measure. There is a lot that one could look at with this film and discuss. But, one of the things I noted was how the further into the movie we get the more 'faceless' background characters emerge. So, while I could perhaps write on more exciting things, discuss errors, relationships, etc. I am going to discuss those people in the background.

Okay, to sum up where we start to see background characters--outside of those characters who didn't fund Milo's expedition--we start when Milo gets his funding and is going to the GIANT submarine. Background characters abound here but their faces are visible when they are suppose to be close in the frame. They don't seem to ever talk, but at least we can see there eyes. But as the movie progresses, and the devious intentions of the group are not quite as hidden, the background characters that you can see start to become fewer. While some of this is due to many of them having died in various sinking, explosions, etc., you still rarely see the survivors outside of the main cast, and the closer they come to Atlantis the more rare the appearance of background character faces and the more masks appear. Yes, the background characters are suddenly wearing gas masks! It is as if they are no longer human, are more disposable, are not subject to common morals of those in the story, and are more evil.

With the Atlantians we do first see them wearing masks, but when blood is spilled the masks come off, and we see that kindness lies behind those masks. What had looked evil was not, and those that looked kind now look evil. The tides shift and evil alone now wears the mask--at least if you are a background character it does. One group reveals themselves and their intentions, the other hides behind masks of deceit. Yes. Disney does toss in these morsels of hiding intentions quite often, but masks are the theme here--unlike Frozen where the theme is gloves. 

Yes, I know this notation is not earth shattering. But it is interesting to see how Disney uses items that people wear to show intentions. Masks, gloves, etc. can be used to hide ones true self when unsure, or as a way to hide from your dishonorable deeds. The Atlantians wore masks when they were unsure of the explorers coming to their lands, while the explorers wore masks so that they were faceless, hiding from what they were doing, from recognition, and from the ability to be blamed for their crimes. After all, if you cannot be identified for a crime, then you are free except unto yourself, and they protected themselves from that.

In more literal uses of the masks Disney used them to make the Atlantians seem like a threat to add a little misdirection and spice things up. While, they made the background characters that were doing misdeeds seem more menacing while making their deaths seem less severe as you cannot see the person dying in more than a general semi-human shape. Given how many characters die in this movie the ability to make mass death be less visible is a plus for a family movie. Take the sub sinking and people being attacked by the creature... you only see a couple people die when likely well over a hundred died. Only the Atlantians that died, and the two main evil characters who died seem to get a somewhat visual death--even then it is not overly visible. In the end with almost 200 explorers dying, and thousands to tens of thousands of Atlantians dying when the city was swallowed up by the sea and they could not reach the zone of safety, it is safe to say that this is one of the largest death counts in a Disney animated feature.

So, I am not sure the point of my post here on the whole, it was more of just one of many interesting things that I noted tonight when I watched the movie. I know this posting isn't what I would consider my best, but I wanted to jump back into this, even though I didn't have a solid article in mind. I am not positive if my articles will match the older ones and photos might not be as common, but I will figure that out once I have a few more post under my belt. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day!

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