Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Disney argument: The Borghese

Let us start someplace odd. Let us make a sharp left turn before we even take a single step on the road of arguing for Disney. No, we speak here not of the Movies or the Empire or the Corporation, though they are all hard to fully separate out, we are here making an argument for the Parks, the Disney Parks. And in our first argument, as I said, we veer off immediately like a madman.

This is to show you that it is not quite what you think.

Alas, nothing is quite what one thinks. All praise and lamentations.

So we start with this first, ever so simple and straightforward question:

What is your favorite Disney Ride?

Upon careful consideration I assert that my favorite Disney Ride is...

The Galleria Borghese.

Oh, fine, yes, I guess it's a museum, sort of. And it's in Rome, Italy. It is vastly older than any of the works of Disney Imagineers. It is full of famous art. It has no boat, and it has not, and has never been, owned by Disney. It is decidedly not in a Disney Park. It has no Disney characters. It, really, has nothing to do with Disney.

I admit all this.

But, excepting all of that. It is a Disney ride. You have to get a ticket. You go with a group of people. It is entirely designed to dazzle and entertain. The overall effect it is going for is magic. Moods are intentionally created in different theme locations. The best works in the Borghese adapt famous stories, mostly mythological, some biblical, but my fervent belief is that these best works are no more religious arguments, or expressions of belief in their source material, than, for instance, Disney artists working with the story of Beauty and the Beast. OH! And the special effects. I need a new paragraph to explain about the special effects.

The Disney parks create clever environments and simulate reality in entertaining ways with special effects so ornate and sophisticated and expensive that they are one of a kind. What fun to take a boat ride through a burning pirate town that is not really burning, but looks like it is burning. If you want to see something like that you can only go to these few places, these Disney Parks. Well, so it is with the Borghese. All your modern rich people in the world cannot reproduce this 17th Century ornateness. Or they could, I suppose, but are no more likely to than they are to build themselves their own Pirates of the Caribbean Ride. And, yes, these special effects. The greatest sculptor of them all, Bernini, has many of his best statues in the Borghese. There were no animatronics or special lighting and space age fabrics when he worked, but that doesn't mean he didn't create mind blowing special effects with marble. When he makes marble appear as a hand pressing into the flesh of a thigh he blah blah blah art (and indeed, great art it is), but he is also flatly concerned with bowling you over in much the same way that they are trying to bowl you over when they put you in a haunted room and it actually starts to stretch. The whole room stretches!

We can make a distinction for art. And perhaps this is why a Caravaggio painting is better than the Jungle Cruise. But it must be said that all these entertainments done well, done magnificently, have a great deal in common, art or no art: Bernini's Apollo and Daphne, Raiders of the Lost Ark, It's All Over Now Baby Blue, Splash Mountain, a goal by Messi, and Frontierland. All of them engage in a simple enough pursuit of doing something amazing. Some go beyond that in some ways, some don't, but, for this tiny group that fully succeeds, it's an awful lot to share at the outset.

I do like The Galleria Borghese best of all the Disney rides. And in its way it is utterly perfect. But it suffers from imperfections as well. It is located very far away from me. It has no moving seats or any portion that involves floating on water. It also lacks a thrilling little drop. I'm not complaining about this best of all rides. I'm just saying why the best solution is to go on a lot of different e-ticket rides of many kinds. They have a whole bunch of them in Orlando, Florida. Plus they have Pooh. So I thought I'd like to go there, this time.

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