TV

Disenchantment creator Matt Groening draws upon many influences for his new cartoon

'What wouldn't Disney do?'

By Cynthia Wang

A rebellious, beer-swilling princess tries to escape her arranged-marriage fate by fleeing with her elf and demon pals across Dreamland in the adult animated show Disenchantment.

It's the hot new series by The Simpsons and Futurama creator Matt Groening.

"The tendency for fantasy – and many Hollywood films – is 'good versus evil,'" Matt tells TV WEEK.

"We tried to make the world not so black and white."

Of Princess Bean (voiced by Abbi Jacobson), Matt, 64, says: "The reason why she drinks so much is not because I'm fond of alcohol jokes. It's because I want you to know from the beginning that this is not Cinderella and this is not Disney.

"It's like, 'What wouldn't Disney do?' Well, they wouldn't have the princess get drunk!"

Like Homer Simpson, Bean loves a beer.
Like Homer Simpson, Bean loves a beer.

Matt cites the following influences as source material for the conception of Disenchantment.

PINOCCHIO:

As an animation fan, Matt loves Pixar, DreamWorks and Disney films. However, he says: "The secret, for me, is not the great, brilliant movies that are perfect. It's the imperfection you find in the books about the movies."

He lists The Art Of... Disney book series that contains conceptual art and sketches as his treasure trove.

"I just happened to see a book about the art in Pinocchio and I went, 'Oh, my God – that's where we're getting all this stuff from,'" he says. "There's a lot of Pinocchio in this."

Matt reveals that viewers will see alot of *Pinocchio* in *Disenchantment*.
Matt reveals that viewers will see alot of Pinocchio in Disenchantment.

FAIRYTALES AND JRR TOLKIEN:

"There's an amazing book by Italo Calvino called Italian Folktales that was a huge influence," Matt says.

"And if you're in fantasy, you have to be influenced by Tolkien and The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings."

A scene from *The Lord Of The Rings*.
A scene from The Lord Of The Rings.

CLASSIC MOVIES:

Matt singles out the 1939 Technicolour masterpiece The Wizard Of Oz and silent films as major inspirations.

"In Disenchantment, there are references to Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, early WC Fields films and Fleischer Brothers cartoons," he says.

Having watched "a lot of TV" along with those movies growing up, Matt says: "It's not a waste. Now I can say, 'Oh, that was all research!'" [Laughs]

Technicolour films like *The Wizard of Oz* have been a major inspiration for the animator.
Technicolour films like The Wizard of Oz have been a major inspiration for the animator.

BOLLYWOOD:

"I'm particularly enthusiastic about Indian cinema these days," Matt reveals.

"There's a director I love named SS Rajamouli, who's done a series of amazing fantasy/musical epic movies. He made my favourite Indian movie of recent years, Magadheera. They're over-the-top, crazy, almost slapstick, and have a very celebratory spirit."

Disenchantment Season 1 is available to stream on Netflix now.

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