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The Fantastic Adventures of Mr. Rossi: The melancholy and oddly psychedelic children’s cartoon
05.09.2017
02:15 pm
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The Fantastic Adventures of Mr. Rossi: The melancholy and oddly psychedelic children’s cartoon


 
Signor Rossi—or as he was variously known, Herr Rossi, M. Rossi, Mr. Rossi and Señor Rossi—was the creation of famed Italian animator Bruno Bozzetto when he was just 22 years old. The character debuted in 1960’s Un Oscar per il Signor Rossi. Signor Rossi is a middle-class “everyman” (Rossi is the most commonly found last name in Italy) who would just like to live the easy life (have a vacation, buy a car, go on a safari, win an Oscar, etc.) but somehow always sees his dreams flounder around him. His comic misadventures, often undertaken with his sidekick dog Gastone (“Harold” in English-speaking countries), reflected the social changes then happening in postwar Italian society, including being over-worked and dealing with all manner of pointless bureaucracy. The trippy, ultra-colorful style of animation looked not unlike something that Peter Max might have produced. There were four Signor Rossi shorts made in the 1960s and another three were made in the 1970s before the theme music was changed in 1975 to Franco Godi’s impossibly catchy song “Viva Felicità” (“Viva Happiness”):

Viva, viva happiness,
Tried to catch it, no success,
Viva, viva happiness,

“Hello, I’m Mr. Rossi”

Mr. Rossi, what you want?
All the tray of ice cream cones,
A cocoa castle for a home

Custard cakes, coffee breaks, holiday, we’re all the same.

And then? And then? And then?
Mr. Rossi, what you want?
To drive a fancy rocket car,
Take a shower with champagne,
Tuxedo, Rococo, break(a) the bank at the casino…

And then? And then? And then?

Viva, viva happiness,
Tried to catch it, no success

[spoken quickly:]

Gonna-do-the-happy-dance,
happy-happy-dance,
viva-viva-happy-dance,
over-here-over-there,
over-here-over-there,
should-be-watching-aware
should-be-watching-aware

Sunshine (Sunshine)
Yellow (Sunshine)
Ocean (Ocean)
Lazy (Ocean)
Loving (Loving)
Someone (Loving)
Flowers (Flowers)
Daisy (Flowers)

This is what makes happiness,
You have more than you can guess,
viva, viva, happiness….

 

 
As there was almost no dialogue, the original cartoons had no barriers to being enjoyed by anyone in any language and the show became incredibly popular in Germany, Spain, France, and England. (The Disney Channel in America aired the cartoons in the early 80s). Godi’s theme song undoubtedly helped with the show’s success around the world. Once you have heard its whimsical melody, it’s difficult to ever forget it. If Mr. Rossi kinda/sorta seems familiar to you, all you have to do is listen to his iconic theme music.

The shorts became so popular that three feature-length Mr. Rossi films were made (and then subsequently turned into shorts for television broadcast) before Bozzetto killed him off in Allegro Non-Troppo his 1976 adult parody of Walt Disney’s Fantasia. The character would return from the dead for a final appearance, although he was employed again selling lottery tickets in Germany in the mid-2000s.
 

 
Franco Godi became one of the most prolific Italian composers of advertising jingles, writing them for companies like Kodak, Fiat, Fernet-Branca and the Tuborg beer brands among many others. The Signor Rossi theme is his most enduring melody.

Allegedly the Signor Rossi cartoons have become popular as something to watch—ala Teletubbies—when coming down from drugs. It’s easy to see how that might’ve happened…
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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05.09.2017
02:15 pm
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