Charles Solomon introduces us to Eric and Susan Goldberg, a rare husband and wife team who are integral to the "Rhapsody in Blue" segment of Disney's Fantasia 2000.
lthough there's a long tradition of animators marrying women from the ink and paint department, animation has produced only a handful of husband and wife creative teams: John and Faith Hubley, John Halas and Joy Bachelor, Alexander Alexeieff and Claire Parker; and, most recently, Eric and Susan Goldberg, on the "Carnival of the Animals" and "Rhapsody in Blue" segments of Disney's Fantasia 2000. Partnerships in any creative endeavor are a potential minefield, and collaborating on a film sounds like a formula for marital disaster. But the Goldbergs share an unusual rapport; they give virtually identical answers to questions posed in separate interviews. Eric: "We've been married for so many years that we can complete each other's punchlines -- we're on that much of a shared wavelength." Susan: "After 17 years of marriage and two kids, we're two halves of the same person. We finish each other's sentences, and we can't tell jokes because we know what the other person's going to say." "When we were in color models, there were a lot jokes about, `I get my way or you'll have to help your daughters with their homework for a week,'" adds Susan. "But when we disagree at work, we take it behind closed doors. We don't argue, we discuss it: `This is why I think this and you think that. Now, how can we either compromise or agree, so it's not a problem?'" When asked about how they worked together on "Rhapsody," the Goldbergs are quick to praise each other's contributions. Eric cites Susan's imaginative use of color as a major factor in the success of the piece. "Left to my own devices, I would be much more mundane -- I would make the trees brown, the leaves green, the sky blue and that would be it," he says with a characteristic laugh. "She'll look at something and say, `No, the trees are purple and leaves are pink,' and it looks great! It's surprising and delighting to the eye at the same time. People who are really great at what they do always bring a better or more surprising or more interesting way of doing something." Susan credits Eric's vision and organization with getting the film done ahead of schedule and under budget. "A film needs to be tightly organized and tightly boarded, so the crew knows where they're going when they start work on it. When you wander around in circles and shoot each other in the foot, it takes longer. Eric is an incredibly organized person. When we were doing commercials, we had no time to wander in circles -- the deadlines and budgets were tight, so you put up or shut up." With "Rhapsody" finished and already receiving high praise within the animation industry, the Goldbergs hope to continue working together. They've already begun preliminary storyboarding on an idea for a feature, and may one day become the first husband-and-wife directoral team in Disney history. Charles Solomon is an internationally respected critic and historian of animation. His most recent books include The Disney That Never Was (Hyperion, 1995), Les Pionniers du Dessin Animé Américain (Dreamland, Paris, 1996) and Enchanted Drawings: The History of Animation (Knopf, 1989; reprinted, Wings, 1994). His writings on the subject have appeared in TV Guide, Rolling Stone,TheLos Angeles Times, Modern Maturity, Film Comment, The Hollywood Reporter, Millimeter, TheManchester Guardian, and been reprinted in newspapers and professional journals in the United States, Canada, France, Russia, Britain, Israel, the Netherlands and Japan.