Friday, May 10, 2013

Persephone and Hades: A Random Concept Piece

"We dance, we kiss, we schmooze,
we carry on, we go home happy."
The other day I was watching Disney's Hercules, and admiring the artistry and excellence of that film. I haven't seen it in many years, I can't remember the last time I'd seen it, but watching it with fresh eyes I really was able to appreciate the humor, the art direction, the music, and the wonderful characterizations. It is definitely one of my favorite Disney animations. One of my favorite things about that film, though, is the villain Hades and his Underworld. He is definitely a different type of Disney villain, and one that stands out as truly unique. Unlike other villains, there isn't decisive destruction, an absolute end to him. His plan is foiled and he gets trapped in the whirlpool of death, but he is immortal and god of the underworld, so he can't really be destroyed entirely. Even more than that, though, he's hilarious and zany. I like the tongue in cheek humor of the film, which is due in large part to Hades characterization. He's the fast-talking, deal-making, god of the underworld and you can't really dislike him all that much because he's funny. His character design, is excellent, with his hair flames ("Whoa, is my hair out?") telling of his mood and his greek-esque hulking figure with swirling smoke and snake-like face that really emphasize this sinister, quick-tongued villain. The underworld in which he is charge is also amazingly designed. I need to get the Art of Hercules to really be able to study the concepts behind all of this, but I do have a fascination for the dark and macabre and there is a lot going on here in this design work:

"While the angels, all pallid and wan,
Uprising, unveiling, affirm
That the play is the tragedy "Man,"
And its hero, the Conqueror Worm."
- Poe
Anyway, I can geek out about this all day. Needless to say I was inspired, and it got me thinking about Hades and the tale of Persephone. In the Greek myth, Persephone is the daughter of Demeter (goddess of the harvest) and Hades sees her, desires her, and kidnaps her. After much angst, Hades is finally forced to return her, but tricks Persephone into eating some pomegranates from the underworld before she leaves. Eating food from the Underworld makes her a part of it, so she must always return to the Underworld and be by Hades' side as his queen. Thus this is why, as Greek myths go, we have winter every season, when Persephone has to return to her place as Queen of the Underworld. I thought all of this could be really fascinating as a retold story, a twisted and dark "Beauty and the Beast". It was also reminding me of Once Upon a Time's Rumpelstiltskin and Belle, this idea of an anti-hero and his journey from darkness to light. It would be done even deeper way than simply just "don't judge a book by its cover" concept. Hades would truly be, in many ways, despicable and unlikable, but as anti-heroes go, there is hope for redemption and who doesn't like a good anti-hero now and again. So, I just let myself imagine what that story would be like and the characters and I came up with this concept piece:

Maybe one day this will be animation masterpiece of death, vanity, true love, redemption, responsibility, and the human condition, but for now I just have this piece. Enjoy!

He makes everything beautiful in its time . . . Ecclesiastes 3:11

1 comment:

  1. HERCULES!! We are hardcore Dis-nerds haha! Well Hercules has a special place in our hearts, and actually watching Hercules was me and Eric's first "date." hehe Anyway, that is a really cool idea and linking it to other fairy tales and the idea of anti-hero... I love that. I've always loved the anti-heroes (DUH haha) and the idea that love is ultimately what transforms them and brings them to the light. Anti-heroes are little more than the prodigal sons of fiction. Fabulous! I love her red hair too and how it's brightness stands out against the charcoal, reminds me of Merida from Brave. Excellent work cousin! I also love the concept art you used from the film. Can't wait for the Thor post!