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Old 15th January 2010   #3
Join Date: July 2005
Posts: 1,784
Default Re: Samurai Jack: A Parallel

Originally Posted by kirsten
the blue flower was an important symbol during the 19th-century Romantic movement in Germany, found in literary works such as Heinrich von Ofterdingen by Novalis. The flower symbolized the search for both the Beautiful and the Sublime.

Very true! In fact, the presentation of the blue flower in Novalis's novel is so similar in nature to the scene between the samurai and the goddess of the spring that it must surely have been the inspiration for the episode.

In the novel, the title character has the following dream:

He found himself on soft turf by the edge of a fountain . . . The daylight round about him was brighter and milder than ordinary daylight, and the sky was dark blue and wholly clear. But what attracted him with great force was a tall, pale blue flower, which stood beside the spring and touched him with its broad glistening leaves. Around this flower were countless others of every hue, and the most delicious fragrance filled the air. He saw nothing but the blue flower and gazed upon it long with inexpressible tenderness. Finally, when he wanted to approach the flower, it all at once began to move and change; the leaves became more glistening and cuddled up to the growing stem; the flower leaned towards him and its petals displayed an expanded blue corolla wherein a delicate face hovered. (17)

Just as the spring goddess emerges from inside the blue flower in the Samurai Jack clip, so does a beautiful face "incline to" Novalis's protagonist out of a similarly "tall, pale blue flower."

Later, Ofterdingen falls in love with a girl named Mathilda, and realizes that it was her face that he saw in his dream vision. Note the intensity of passion that he expresses toward her:

Do I not feel as I did in that dream when I saw the blue flower? What strange connection is there between Mathilda and that flower? The face which inclined to me out of the flowery calyx, that was Mathilda's heavenly face . . . She will be my innermost soul, the vestal priestess of my sacred fire. What an eternity of loyalty I feel within myself! I was born only to adore her, to serve her forever, to think and be aware of her. Is not a special undivided existence required for contemplating and adoring her? And am I the happy one whose existence is permitted to be the echo and mirror of hers? It was no accident that I saw her at the end of my journey (104-5)

One imagines her as a timeless beauty of the first order, to have inspired such ardour.

* * *

A number of people have opined as to who the ideal plus-size model would be (among currently working models) to embody the goddess of springtime, as depicted in the above video. With her big, doll-like blue eyes, gentle expressions, and quintessentially feminine figure, most readers' choice is Kelsey Olson (Dorothy Combs/Heffner). Her Torrid bridal video also demonstrated that she can walk every bit as gracefully as does the spring goddess.

If the Samurai Jack animators had depicted their enchantress with Kelsey's shapely figure, she would have been even more irresistible--so much so that the samurai would have been unable to part from her, irrespective of any demonic apprehensions.

* * *

Given that the spring-goddess video is such a fine presentation of the aesthetic of the Beautiful, several readers have inquired what an equivalent animation of the Sublime might look like. For that, we have the perfect answer--and possibly the greatest work of animation ever conceived: the "Night on Bald Mountain" segment from Walt Disney's immortal masterpiece, Fantasia (1940).

In it, the peak of Bald Mountain comes to life in the form of a demon known as Chernabog, the dark god of Slavonic mythology. (In Polish, "czarny" means black, and "bóg" means god; hence, "Czarny Bóg," or "Chernabog.") This demon summons forth shades to rise from their graves, whereupon, in a kind of "wild ride"--a staple of Teutonic lore--these apparitions race toward the demon on his mountaintop and participate in a Walpurgisnacht (witches' sabbath) revel. The bacchanal only ends when church bells toll to announce the dawn of the holy day. These sacred tones dispel the shades, and compel the demon to petrify atop the mountain and reform as its peak.

In many ways, these two videos perfectly complement one another. Just as the samurai's idyll in the world of the Beautiful is curtailed by the intrusion of Evil (his visions of Aku), so Chernybog's world of the Sublime is destroyed by the introduction of Good (the tolling of the church bells). And just as the warrior samurai embodies the Masculine principle and and the spring goddess (in her human traits) the Feminine, so, in a heightened manner, do Chernybog and the goddess (in her supernatural qualities) personify the same complementary principles, much as they represent the Sublime and the Beautiful.

- Fantasia

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