Things You're Just Supposed to Know

Most of the time, Long-Forgotten assumes that readers are already familiar with basic facts
about the Haunted Mansion. If you wanna keep up with the big boys, I suggest you check out
first of all the website, Doombuggies.com. After that, the best place to go is Jason Surrell's book,
The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering a Disney Classic (NY: Disney Editions; 2015). That's the
re-named third edition of The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies (NY:
Disney Editions, 2003; 2nd ed. 2009). Also essential reading is Jeff Baham's The Unauthorized
Story of Walt Disney's Haunted Mansion (USA: Theme Park Press, 2014).

This site is not affiliated in any way with any Walt Disney company. It is an independent
fan site dedicated to critical examination and historical review of the Haunted Mansions.
All images that are © Disney are posted under commonly understood guidelines of Fair Use.

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Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Black Prince


.                         
.                                            The first thing to be said is that there is no doubt that this changing portrait
.                                            is called "The Black Prince." It's labeled that way on Marc Davis's concept art.

(Hat tip to GRD)

But no one uses that name.  Everyone calls him something more generic, like "The Knight," or "The Black Knight," or "That guy on the horse."  Even on the blueprints, he's just "Horseman."  But Davis says he is "The Black Prince," and that name refers quite specifically to Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, Prince of Aquitaine, sire of King Edward III, warrior of renown (1330-1376).  We mentioned him briefly in a former post, but we did not go into any detail.  Very good at slaughtering the French, he was.  For his portrait, Davis probably drew inspiration from a late 19th c. sketch by Walter Paget showing Edward at one of his most celebrated triumphs, the Battle of Crecy.

There was bludddd in the saddle...


The pose is rather conventional, of course.


At least until October of 2015, there didn't seem to be anything mysterious or particularly interesting in tracing the artwork for the Black Prince.
It was another case of Davis nailing it the first time out. There isn't a lot of difference, for example, between his preliminary sketch . . .


. . . and his finished concept paintings, just as there aren't any important differences between those paintings . . . 


. . . and the paintings actually used in the attraction, which were done by Ed Kohn.  There is one amusing difference, however.


Mr. Kohn has discreetly moved Edward's scabbard over to the correct side (actually, you
can't even see it). Edward was a righty, and his scabbard therefore belongs on the left.

As long as we're tittering over mere trifles, here's another tidbit of trivia you might find amusing. Disney artist Collin Campbell was never one to let an unused piece of Marc Davis artwork go to waste. Take for example these nightmarish Davis ghosties. They were never used, but I would point to them as further evidence that Marc wasn't just a jokemeister but was committed to making the Mansion a scary place as well, as I've argued elsewhere.


Anyway, if they seem familiar, that's because Campbell used them in his artwork for the "Story
and Song" souvenir album. I don't know what those things are, but funny is what they are not.


Well, in the case of the Black Prince portrait, Campbell lifted the skeletal horseman from Davis's
original concept painting and this time found a completely different use for one of Marc's creations.


Busted!

Okay, let's get back to the portrait.  Unlike the case with so many of the other changing portraits, there is no evidence that Davis originally planned anything for the Prince other than what we got: a two-stage lightning shift from living horse and rider to skeletal figures.  In other words, there would seem to be no surprises to report at this stage of the game either.  But a major surprise in the history of this portrait was revealed, as I said, in October of 2015. You can read about it HERE.


What Are You Doing Here, Ed?

The only real mystery with Edward the Black Prince is this:  Why is he in a haunted house at all?  There are no ghost stories or anything else supernatural connected with him, so far as I know.  We can, if we wish, visit his impressive tomb in Canterbury Cathedral in search of clues.


.  There we find this epitaph:

.          Such as thou art, sometime was I.
.          Such as I am, such shalt thou be.
.          I thought little on th'our of Death
.          So long as I enjoyed breath.
.          But now a wretched captive am I,
.          Deep in the ground, lo here I lie.
.          My beauty great, is all quite gone,
.          My flesh is wasted to the bone.

Sober, yes, even grim, but there's nothing there that would give you goosebumps.

If Edward isn't a ghost, neither is he generally included with "famous villains of history," which was another admission ticket to the Mansion during this period of its development.  Quite the contrary, Edward is regarded as a legendary warrior from Britain's past, a mighty hero . . . more or less. The "less" comes with acknowledging that Edward did have a dark side.  Something about slaughtering women and children now and then, but sheesh, who hasn't done that?  It's so unfair.  One or two massacres and right away you're the bad guy.  But seriously folks, could it be that this less palatable dimension of his story, plus the "Black Prince" title itself (allegedly because he wore black armor), have gradually pushed him over into ambiguous territory, making him villainous and scary?

Probably not.  The problem is, this sort of historical revisionism doesn't seem to have destroyed Edward's reputation (yet?), and it certainly had not done so during the time period we are dealing with.  Ten years before Marc's portrait of the Black Prince, Hollywood had put Edward's story on film in The Dark Avenger (1955), with Errol Flynn in the title role.  Edward looks pretty mean and nasty in the movie poster, but the Black Prince is still very much the swashbuckling good guy in the film.  It's Errol Flynn, remember?


As a matter of fact, if we're looking for possible artistic influences on Davis beyond
the Paget print, could that movie poster right there be a candidate?  Um...maybe.



For Some Reason, Beauty is Deceptive

With no obvious justification for his inclusion, Edward the Black Prince is an intriguing and puzzling member of the Mansion family.  Not surprisingly, this complicates our attempts at interpreting the painting.  All of the other changing portraits present us with something pleasant that transforms into something horrifying. In doing so, every one of them demonstrates the truth that beauty is deceptive, but curiously enough, they offer two distinct arguments in support of that claim.

"Beauty is deceptive because it does not last" (April-December, Master Gracey, the "Flying Dutchman" as a handsome ship destroyed by a storm).

"Beauty is deceptive because it can mask something evil" (Medusa, Cat Lady).

Furthermore, a lot of unused changing portraits could also be cited which fall neatly into one or the other category.  The wilting bouquet of flowers is obviously part of the first group.  So is this unused concept, a terrestrial counterpart to the Flying Dutchman painting.  Call it "Dustbowl," or "The Little Farmhouse that Couldn't." (For both of these, see now the November 2015 updates HERE.)


Several unused "femme fatale" portraits featuring charming young women
taking a homicidal turn just as obviously belong in the second category.

Scroll if you must.

Taking it a step further, one could argue that the two responses can be reconciled as essentially one by recognizing Death as our enemy and never our friend, whether he comes softly with the creeping decrepitude of age and disease or suddenly and violently at the hands of another while we are still in the bloom of youth.  The cold-hearted spirit who animates the homicidal maniac is the same one who patiently takes you apart piece by piece until you can't go another step, even if it takes 99 years. That is a distinctly Christian view of Death. There are many attempts in many religions and philosophies to appease the Reaper, or to ignore him, or to negotiate with him, or to soften him, or to stoicly accept him, or to outright embrace him.  Many attempts.

Screw 'em all. Death must die. In the Eastern Church, and curiously enough also in the writings of the Puritan American Jonathan Edwards, "beauty" is a theological category, a fundamental dimension in spiritual reality.  Consider this: We cannot help mourning over the transitive nature of earthly beauty.  We're always a little sad when our flower does what all flowers do, always a little shocked and disappointed when we see old photos of our various heroes in their youth and compare them with their grayed and brittle-boned present.  But if it has always and ever been thus, why do we stubbornly continue to feel this sense of loss, almost a betrayal?  It's because we know something, instinctively.

Divine beauty never can and never shall deceive. It is Beauty who whispers to us that Death is an alien presence, a mocker, an enemy.

Okay, is he done?  I think he's done.


Part of the Team, or an Outlier?

Is the Black Prince portrait also a commentary on the deceptiveness of beauty?  If it is, which of the two statements does it make?  This is the most interesting thing about the portrait for me.  You can make a case that this changing portrait is like all the others, but to do so you have to claim that (1) the first phase of the painting presents a form of beauty, and that (2) the second phase either foreshadows Edward's tragic mortality ("beauty doesn't last") or reveals Edward as a fiend in human form ("beauty can mask evil").

It's a stretch no matter which way you go.  With regard to the first point, it's true that those scowls don't necessarily mean he's a bad guy.  Witness that movie poster.  And you can claim that what you're seeing is the handsome image of a tough, brave and determined warrior.  And it's true enough that Edward the Black Prince has always been presented as a fearsome fighter but basically a good guy, so why should this be any different?  

Against all this is the fact that we are given no clues whatsoever to help us identify the figure as Edward in the first place, and you have to admit that he looks not just brave but pretty scary with those orange, madman eyes and those bad teeth.


If we're supposed to like him, why not give us something a little more cuddly, like the guy in
the Paget print?  He looks like he could be the lead singer in the latest boy band sensation.


As for the second point, only the fiendish interpretation is really defensible.
No way can this be taken as just another wistful example of memento mori.



If it's ridiculous to look at that and see only a sober reminder that beauty is destroyed in death, it's just as hard to see a shocking, vivid contrast between it and the first phase of the painting, where one is pleasant and positive and the other unexpectedly horrific.

Let's face it; the Black Prince is not like all of the other changing portraits.  I suspect that Davis used extant portraits of Edward only as artistic models for a ferocious horseman and wrote "The Black Prince" on his sketch without giving it much thought, knowing that it didn't matter, because no one would have enough clues to identify the knight with a specific historical character anyway.  If that's the case, we should ignore the title and just concentrate on the portrait itself.

I don't think we're seeing any sort of commentary on beauty at all.  It's something else.  It's a BGGB.


The BGGB Portrait

The Black Prince is hard to place because it represents the only surviving example of something that currently lacks a name.  I do hereby dub this genre, "BGGB changing portrait."  That stands for "bad guy gets badder."  A portrait of someone who is sinister but nevertheless human transforms into something far worse.  Most BGGB's start out with a recognizable historical or literary villain, soon to be revealed as a strange and diabolical creature in human guise.

Originally, there were lots of BGGB's.  Some were never used, and some ended up among the "Sinister 11," following you with their eyes but not transforming.  Among these would be Dracula, the Witch of Walpurgis, Rasputin, and the Wolfman.  (These are all discussed HERE and HERE.)  All look human, and all change into something inhuman.

These BGGBs will give you the Heebie Jeebies

There are other BGGB's, but those are the plainest examples.  The only one of them that starts out with a nameless, generic character is the Witch of Walpurgis, so she would be the closest parallel to the Black Prince if he's going to be read as simply "a fierce and frightening horseman."

That's my explanation, but who knows?  You may come up
with a different solution to the puzzle of the Black Prince.


35 comments:

  1. To my eye, the Black Prince isn't so much transforming into something worse. He raises his sword in unvanquished glory, but the sword becomes a lightning rod, and we see the skeletons in the classic x-ray effect of cartoons and horror movies.

    In any case, the BGGBs most certainly do give one the Heebie Jeebies!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've wondered about the electrical interpretation as well. It's certainly possible, but in the end, the thing that inclines me to think that Davis did not have this in mind is that I suspect he would have given a clue to the viewer pointing in that direction, and it would have been very easy. Just put some storm clouds in the sky, and have a yellow lightning bolt or two shooting out of them, off in the distance, visible beneath the horse. That way, the notion that's he's been hit by lightning would occur to viewers naturally and spontaneously. But who knows?

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    2. One could argue that:
      1. The sky going black implies clouds;
      2. His helmet flies off, revealing hair in a "shocking" state, implying he's being electricuted;
      3. There is a white light along the ridges of the mountains, indicating a massive light source. Unless you're going to assume that he himself projects light that far, it's lightning.

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  2. I agree that the "beauty fades" as momento mori is probably inappropriate for this Black Prince character, considering that there is nothing beautiful about the image at all.

    I would suggest that the figure of a fearsome knight, a prince no less, transforming into a ghastly skeleton suggests another kind of momento mori however: the dance of death, where both great and small; mighty and meek, are lead in the dance of death by the grim reaper. Yes even you, mighty noble lord, you too will die.

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    Replies
    1. That too is possible. The reason I don't fully embrace it is that I don't see any weakening of the figure in the skeletal phase. He hasn't been humbled by Death but seems (to me, anyway) as strong and fearsome as ever. Hey, if I thought I was going to look like that when I die, momento mori wouldn't be a sobering and uncomfortable exercise at all.

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  3. I think the human forms of the Black Prince as well as the BGGBs (especially Dracula in human form) are much creepier than their inhuman transformations. It appears to go from creepy to comic.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, there's truth in that. I think the logic behind the BGGB is to exploit a paranoid fear that sinister, wicked people aren't people at all, but demons in disguise. You know where it leads if this thing goes full-on tin foil hat: Barack Obama or George Bush (take your pick) is really a Reptilian posing as a normal human. I mean, what else could explain such a combination of cunning deception and unbridled malice? Better get your AK47, move to Idaho, and join a militia. They're coming.

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    2. The comic element, in other words, is that such paranoia is kinda ridiculous.

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  4. I think 'corruption' is revealed in the lightning flashes. Perhaps it is less about creating a new category for the Black Prince as it is looking at the overarching category. The lightning flash grants us a view of each painting in a corrupted state.

    I take the meaning of 'corruption', to carry over what the ghost host says about the folks pictured in the portraits as you enter the stretching portrait gallery - 'corruptable, mortal state'. Corruption can be benign or evil. Our flesh will be corrupted, but for some the soul seems corrupted as well.

    The question remains then, is the Black Prince to be seen as corrupted in body, soul, or both? Given your description of Edward as well as the ambiguous nature of the portrait (not suggesting intent as clearly evil or noble) I'd say his corruption is simply bodily. But corrupted he will be...along with his horse.

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    Replies
    1. Some explanation is still needed for his apparently undiminished and perhaps enhanced strength. His flesh may be corrupted, but he looks as formidable as ever. If corruption is the only dynamic in play, then possibly the suggestion would be that corruption of soul allows one to beat Death by joining forces with him, a horrifying thought if true, but we may take comfort in the testimony of the Bible, Star Wars, and the Lord of the Rings that such an deal with the devil is illusory. There is no pact with Sheol (Isa 28:15), there is no security in going over to the Dark Side, nor is there safety in joining forces with Sauron.

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  5. I agree that The Black Prince falls into the BGGB category, where the human form falls away to reveal what was hidden just below the surface. Perhaps the only real difference (at least to me) is that once the others are revealed, there's a sense of "Okay, this is really, REALLY bad, but at least I know what I'm dealing with!" There's the possibility that you just might be able to do SOMETHING to fight it off or escape (as small a chance as that may be).

    However, in the case of The Black Prince, in his original form he was a nasty piece of work and a bringer of death, and the only consolation was that sooner or later, he too would die; be it by the sword or "the creeping decrepitude of age and disease". Then, his true form is revealed. Not only is he not affected by death, he is as formidable, if not more so, than in his previous state! Perhaps he IS Death! And how can you possibly fight Death? The prospect of The Black Prince painting is more bleak than the other BGGBs.(Of course, one could argue that Dracula is dead, but technically he is "undead" and in vampire lore there are ways to end him.)

    That's just how I see it, though. =)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good point, werewolves and witches and Rasputins will eventually die (although Ras was pretty hard to kill), and even with Dracula, you've still got garlic and crucifixes and wolfbane and wooden stakes on your side. With this guy . . . what?

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  6. Wouldn't it make sense to put Medusa and the Cat-Lady in this BGGB group as well? They may be beautiful, but for me they always had this sinister feeling about them; something saying "Don't trust me, I'm not as innocent as I look".
    I grew up with Phantom Manor where there are only Medusa, Cat-Lady, the Flying Dutchman and the Black Prince, and for me, the effect of the four was always more or less the same: Something horrific that disguises as rather mundane, while still keeping this aura of insanity that still lurks through the "worldly" disguise.

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    1. That interesting, and it works for the Prince if you think he's attractive in phase one. To be fair, Koch's rendering could be taken as "handsome, dashing," so it's not an unreasonable interpretation, but Davis's original has orange eyes and bad teeth, so I tend to think we're supposed to read, "scary, not attractive." Cat Lady and Medusa are only two of about half a dozen "femme fatale" changing portraits conceived by Davis. The two that made it may or may not have a sinister feeling about them in phase one; it's hard now to look at them and not be colored by what we know they become. But Davis himself described phase one Medusa as a "very beautiful girl" as he was showing it off during the DL 10th Anny TV program, and Cat Lady—well, I think she's exotic/sexy until she starts purring. A light touch of sinister can enhance appeal. Orange eyes, not so much. Yours is yet another interpretation I'll grant as possible, but in the end I'm not won over.

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  7. How about this; Glory, like beauty, is fleeting? One minute you are on top of the world slaughtering women and children, the next you're a bone pile. That kind of ties back to the real prince's tomb as well. Just a thought...

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    1. For me, that reading runs into the same problem as many of the others: the "after" phase shows no diminishment of power, no humbling, nothing that would serve to deflate the arrogance of man ("pride of life" as John calls it in 1 Jn 2:16). If anything, it shows that death did nothing to slow him down. "Bone pile" does not describe phase two very accurately, IMHO.

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    2. The bone pile will occur within the next lightning flash (not that we all agree there's lightning in those dark storm clouds). I still see no transformation here -- it's two milliseconds in time. The prince's skeleton still looks defiant because it hasn't had a moment to crumble. The horse couldn't hold that gravity-defying position for long. What we're seeing is the exact moment of death, especially eerie because the sword hasn't even had time to fall. The irony is that the warlord embodied the reaper while he was alive, but as a skeleton himself he's frozen. But anyway, it /is/ delightful how many readings this changing portrait evokes!

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    3. There is also the possibility that Koch may have interpreted the Davis original a little differently than Davis intended. There's an electrical aura around Koch's phase two that's missing from Marc's original. If all we had was Marc's concept painting, I wouldn't consider the "zapped by lightning" interpretation very credible. Not enough luminescence.

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    4. Another question. How is seeing a bad guy getting zapped by lightning scary? We're in a haunted house here.

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    5. Forces from above wreaking harm, whether divinely ordained or random, scare /me/, but then again I'm in Florida, the lightning death capital of the world. And yes, the Kohn version most clearly has an electrical aura, which must have been what instantly informed my "struck by lightning" reading of the image. Granted, lightning is natural and not supernatural, yet it's a staple of haunted house/castle scenarios as an unpredictable and fairly mysterious deadly force.

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    6. I agree that nothing in the Davis original suggests he is being struck by lightning; however, from the very first time I visited the Mansion I interpreted Kohn's as such. If Kohn was putting his own spin on the original, the suggestion could thus be rendered more subtle. As for how this would fit in a haunted house: granted, seeing a bad guy get zapped breeds satisfaction rather than fear, but a sufficiently gruesome death evokes a morbid feeling nonetheless. And the theme of supernatural forces meting out improbable justice seems to represent half of all ghost stories I've ever heard, so that general idea would seem to fit as well.

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    7. "Another question. How is seeing a bad guy getting zapped by lightning scary? We're in a haunted house here."

      The same amount of fright as seeing a ship in peril at sea? They actually fall into the same category, no?

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  8. I must say I'm surprised and delighted by the sheer variety of readings this changing portrait has evoked.

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  9. The Prince may turn out to be a real contender for the "most intriguing portrait" award, although I'd still award the palm to April-December at this point.

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  10. I always saw it as him getting struck by lightning during or after a battle. My brother said this was his favorite portrait.

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  11. I don't think the BP is getting struck by lightning, partly because the lightning (an 'external' effect which we the guest experience as well) is revealing something about each character featured in the paintings. Sticking to my 'corruption' hypothesis, and trying to remain within the context of the HM experience up to this point, the lightning flash exposes a quick glimpse of a potential metamorphoses - not so 'disquieting' as the stretching portraits, but a transformation all the same.

    The stretching portraits reveal the corruption of each person - for instance, the lady sitting on the tombstone seems to imply her role in the death of the poor soul with the ax in his head, the folly of the girl on the tightrope, etc., but all in their 'mortal state'. Their corruption is both devious/deceitful/foolish/etc, that is, an internal corruption of the soul, and will eventually be physical as well (eaten, drowned, exploded, or simply expired). There is however, an implication that they will live on, since the ghost host identifies them as 'some of our guests'. Also, if while alive they were in a corruptible state, is their after-death state somehow 'in-corruptible'? Are we being told that while the bodies corrupt and die, the souls live on?

    I think that gallery is a set-up for the paintings in the hallway. Related Question - are these paintings examples of the 'several prominent ghosts' who have retired here? Or is that just a set-up in the script for the 999/room-for-one-more joke? Anyway, So far we've been shown that not all is as it seems. What appear to be typical portraits turn out to be warnings against bad behavior that are only revealed when the room begins stretching.

    So just as the stretching room reveals the corruption of the people in the portraits, the lightning reveals a different kind of corruption or at least transformation in the hallway. Makes me wonder if there aren't similar 'revelations' in the mansion where what seems to be one thing turns out to be another. Sorry for the long reply but you really got me thinking on this one!

    Great blog post, as usual!



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  12. Well, I had never really thought of it, but I guess I did assume that "pile of bones" was what I imagined next. For some reason skeletons (even animated ones) never struck me as powerful. I think of them as rather fragile. Spooky, maybe, but not powerful.

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  13. "Edward died one year before his father, becoming the first English Prince of Wales not to become King of England. The throne passed instead to his son Richard II, a minor, upon the death of Edward III." (SOURCE: Wikipedia) Prince Edward was a warrior, both courageous and terrible. But he was denied his ultimate ambition: to become King of England. Death has robbed him of his birthright. Worse, he didn't even die a warrior's death in battle: amoebic dysentery claimed the life of the Black Prince after ten full years of suffering. His is a tale of resentment turned to spectral madness! Edward's ghost greatly resents all that he has lost: his youth, his health, his glory and his rightful place on the throne. As a result, his wraith is filled with wrath! Gone with his mortal flesh are all notions of chivalry and honor. All that remains is a blinding rage directed at friend and foe alike, making him especially dangerous! He has become a truly "Black" Prince - Black with malice and hate as represented by his terrifying appearance. That is why, for me, his portrait is the most ominous throughout the Haunted Mansion!

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  14. No one has yet suggested the obvious: the universal horror of a mad x-ray technician with a time machine.

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  15. Since Davis titled it The Black Prince, could it possibly just be about the duality of the real Price Edward, who is a hero to some and a murder to others?

    Also the horse always reminded me of a Leonardo Da Vinci horse, the way it's rendered in a very energetic pose, this one is in a similar pose http://www.theequinest.com/images/leonardo-da-vinci-horse-6.jpg

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  16. Brief preface regarding Tarot symbols. I do not regard the Tarot as an occult gateway or mechanism, indeed, quite the opposite. I believe the history of these symbols makes it quite clear that they are not "religious" or "occult" at all, but are more like an alphabet. A symbolic alphabet of the various human conditions and emotions that contribute to life and culture. Just as it is possible to write poetry using the alphabet, it is also possible to write evil things, but the meanings of the letters do not change. So, too with the Tarot. It is a language designed to discuss emotions and human needs that has sometimes been co-opted, or unfairly maligned.

    That said, on to my comments about these two interesting paintings.

    The pose of the Black Knight is reminiscent of the Knight of Swords from the Rider Waite Tarot deck. While the traditional meaning of that card is a "confident and articulate young man, who may act impetuously", the pose of the HM painting is reversed from the tarot image, leading to the "reversed" interpretation, "clever liar, secretive, sly and deceitful". An added overtone of the reversal implies that "an intended path may be a mistake, or reconsidering an action may be a wise decision."

    This interpretation could be taken as a warning to the visitors, "be wary of what's coming, there's more (or less) here than meets the eye".

    The transformed image of the knight struck by lighting is reminiscent of imagery on two R-W cards, Death, and The Tower. The image of Death is a skeleton riding a horse in a similar, less vigorous pose than the Davis figure on the horse, traditionally signifying a change or a transition (not always an ominous one or associated with bad news).

    The Tower, (depicting a stone structure destroyed by lightning) is taken to signify a monumental event, world-shaking in nature (at least to the occupants of the Tower) often associated with a change in world view, a "lifting of the veil" experience, or the "light bulb" going on over the thinker's head.

    The confluence of the two symbols could be taken to imply that your visit to the HM will change your opinions about death and the hereafter and transition you to a condition unknown before (laughing at or with Death?), led there by the confidence trickster in the black armor.

    I haven't really paid much attention to interpretation of other HM symbolism in terms of the Tarot symbols, nor do I think most visitors do this either, but these images are part of the patrimony, one way or another, and their subliminal footprints may remain and affect our thinking without realizing it.

    From numerous things I see throughout Disneyland, not just in the HM, I am convinced that the original Imagineers were steeped in traditional legends and lore, far over and above the surface readings of the fairytale stories they re-tell, and they used this knowledge with great care and restraint to build and play on the emotions of the visitors, one reason for Disney's success and the sense of "difference" between Disneyland and other parks.

    JG

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  17. I too always understood the knight was being struck by lightening. At the moment of the Knight's great triumphal moment, the "hero" is struck by the bolt as he raised his word to the sky ----even the electrical current has grounded itself through the knight, then the steed, the ground shows the current as it enters. This would have also played off that the knight is struck at the same point the lightning has flashed outside the portrait corridor.

    -Mike

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  18. As I said earlier, Kohn's version could be read that way, but not Marc's original, IMO. Even in Kohn's version (which is the only one that "actually exists"), if it were "mighty man struck down," a mockery of hubris, I would have expected the helpful clue—the usual cliche—of releasing his weapon at impact. You know what I mean: I guy gets zapped/shot, and his pistol or whatever is depicted as loose, hanging in space within or near his relaxed grip, often still between his thumb and fingers now spread apart, etc. It instantly communicates his neutralization, his loss of power. Kohn could at least have loosened the rider's grip on his sword if "mighty man struck down" were the message. I can see how people might read the painting as a lightning strike, and it's possibly correct, but I'm still skeptical.

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