Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dumbo (1941)


Dumbo is a 1941 American animated film produced by Walt Disney and released on October 23, 1941, by RKO Radio Pictures. he fourth film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, Dumbo is based upon a child's book of the same name by Helen Aberson and illustrated by Harold Pearl. The main character is Jumbo Jr., a semi-anthropomorphic elephant who is cruelly nicknamed Dumbo. He is ridiculed for his big ears, but in fact he is capable of flying by using his ears as wings. Throughout most of the film, his only true friend, aside from his mother, is the mouse, Timothy; a relationship parodying the stereotypical animosity between mice and elephants.

Despite the advent of World War II, Dumbo was still the most financially successful Disney film of the 1940s. This was one of the first of Disney's animated films to be broadcast, albeit severely edited, on television, as part of Disney's anthology series. The film then received another distinction of note in 1981, when it was the first of Disney's canon of animated films to be released on home video.

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Dumbo was made to recoup the financial losses of Fantasia. The film has been criticized as being racist (the leader crow in the film is named "Jim Crow"), yet is also considered to be one of Disney's finest films. It was a deliberate pursuit of simplicity and economy for the Disney studio, and is now generally regarded as a classic of animation. At 64 minutes, it is one of Disney's shortest animated features.


Plot Synopsis;


While circus animals are being transported, Mrs. Jumbo, one of the elephants, receives her baby from a stork. The baby elephant is quickly taunted by the other elephants because of his large ears, and they nickname him "Dumbo".

Once the circus is set up, Mrs. Jumbo loses her temper at a group of children for making fun of her son, and she is locked up and deemed mad. Dumbo is shunned by the other elephants and with no mother to care for him, he is now alone, except for a self-appointed mentor and protector, Timothy Q. Mouse, who feels sympathy for Dumbo and becomes determined to make him happy again.

The circus director makes Dumbo the top of an elephant pyramid stunt, but Dumbo causes the stunt to go wrong, injuring the other elephants and bringing down the big top. Dumbo is made a clown as a result, and plays the main role in an act that involves him falling into a vat of pie filling. Despite his newfound popularity and fame, Dumbo hates this job and is now more miserable than ever.

To cheer Dumbo up, Timothy takes him to visit his mother. On the way back Dumbo cries and then starts to hiccup so Timothy decides to take him for a drink of water from a bucket which, unknown to him, has accidentally had a bottle of champagne knocked into it. As a result, Dumbo and Timothy both become drunk and see hallucinations of pink elephants.

The next morning, Dumbo and Timothy wake up in a tree. Timothy wonders how they got up in the tree, and concludes that Dumbo flew up there using his large ears as wings. With the help of a group of crows, Timothy is able to get Dumbo to fly again, using a psychological trick of a "magic feather" to boost his confidence.

Back at the circus, Dumbo must perform his stunt of jumping from a high building, this time from a much higher platform. On the way down, Dumbo loses the feather and Timothy tells him that the feather was never magical, and that he is still able to fly. Dumbo is able to pull out of the dive and flies around the circus.

After this performance, Dumbo becomes a media sensation, Timothy becomes his manager, and Dumbo and Mrs. Jumbo are given a private car on the circus train.

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The film was designed as an economical feature to help generate income for the Disney studio after the financial failures of both Pinocchio and Fantasia in 1940. Storymen Dick Huemer and Joe Grant were the primary figures in developing the plot, based upon a children's book written by Helen Aberson and illustrated by Harold Pearl (the only involvement the authors had with the cartoon industry). Their book was made of only 8 drawings and just a few lines of text. When it was published in 1939, the edition was so small and obscure that nobody knows how Disney got his hands on it. He gave it to his lead animators and told them to see what they could get out of it.

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When the film went into production in early 1941, supervising director Ben Sharpsteen was given orders to keep the film simple and inexpensive. As a result, Dumbo lacks the lavish detail of the previous three Disney animated features (Fantasia, Pinocchio, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs): character designs are simpler, background paintings are less detailed, and a number of held cels (or frames) were used in the character animation.

Controversy

The crow characters in the film are seen as African-American stereotypes. The leader crow was originally named "Jim Crow" for script purposes, and the name stuck. The other crows are all voiced by African-American actors, all members of the Hall Johnson Choir. Despite suggestions of racism by critics such as Richard Schickel, many historians such as Zoe Pritchard reject these claims. For instance, the crows are noted as forming the majority of the characters in the movie who are sympathetic to Dumbo's plight (the others are Timothy Q. Mouse and Mrs. Jumbo), are free spirits who serve nobody, and intelligent characters aware of the power of self-confidence, unlike the Stepin Fetchit stereotype common at that time. Furthermore, their song "When I See An Elephant Fly," which uses intricate wordplay in the lyrics, is more oriented to mocking Timothy Mouse than Dumbo's large ears.


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Peter Pan (1953)


Peter Pan is a 1953 American animated film produced by Walt Disney and based on the play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up by J. M. Barrie. It is the fourteenth film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series and was originally released on February 5, 1953 by RKO Pictures. Peter Pan is the final Disney animated feature released through RKO before Walt Disney's founding of his own distribution company, Buena Vista Distribution, later in 1953 after the film was released. Peter Pan is also the final Disney film in which all nine members of Disney's Nine Old Men worked together as directing animators.
The film was entered into the 1953 Cannes Film Festival. A sequel titled Return to Never Land and a prequel titled Tinker Bell were released in 2002 and 2008 respectively.




Plot Synopsis;

In Edwardian London in the neighborhood of Bloomsbury, George and Mary Darling's preparations to attend a party are disrupted by the antics of the boys John and Michael, acting out a story about Peter Pan and the pirates, told to them by their older sister Wendy. The father angrily declares that Wendy has gotten too old to continue staying in the nursery with them, and it's time for her to grow up. That night they are visited in the nursery by Peter Pan himself, who teaches them to fly with the help of his pixie friend, Tinker Bell, and takes them with him to the island of Never Land.

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A ship of pirates is anchored off Never Land, commanded by Captain Hook with his sidekick Mr. Smee. Hook boldly plots to take revenge upon Peter Pan for cutting off his hand, but he trembles when the crocodile that ate it arrives; it now stalks him hoping to taste more. The crew's restlessness is interrupted by the arrival of Peter and the Darlings. The children easily evade them, and despite a trick by jealous Tinker Bell to have Wendy killed, they meet up with the Lost Boys, six lads in animal-costume pajamas who look to Peter as their leader. John and Michael set off with the Lost Boys to find the island's Indians, who instead capture them, believing them responsible for taking the chief's daughter Tiger Lily.




Meanwhile, Peter takes Wendy to see the mermaids, where they see that Hook and Smee have captured Tiger Lily, to coerce her into revealing Peter's hideout. Peter and Wendy free her, and Peter is honored by the tribe. Hook then plots to take advantage of Tinker Bell's jealousy of Wendy, tricking her into revealing the location of Peter's lair. The pirates lie in wait and capture the Lost Boys and the Darlings as they exit, leaving behind a time bomb to kill Peter. Tinker Bell learns of the plot just in time to snatch the bomb from Peter as it explodes.

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Peter rescues Tinker Bell from the rubble and together they confront the pirates, releasing the children before they can be forced to walk the plank. Peter engages Hook in single combat as the children fight off the crew, and finally succeeds in humiliating the captain. Hook and his crew flee, with the crocodile in hot pursuit. Peter gallantly commandeers the deserted ship, and with the aid of Tinker Bell's pixie dust, flies it to London with the children aboard.

Mr. and Mrs. Darling return home from the party to find Wendy not in her bed, but sleeping at the open window; John and Michael are asleep in their beds. Wendy wakes and excitedly tells about their adventures. The parents look out the window and see what appears to be a pirate ship in the clouds. Mr. Darling, who has softened his position about Wendy staying in the nursery, recognizes it from his own childhood, as it breaks up into clouds itself.

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The songs in Peter Pan were composed by Sammy Fain, Sammy Cahn, Frank Churchill, Winston Hibler and Ted Sears. Oliver Wallace composed the incidental music score.
  • "The Second Star to the Right" - The Jud Conlon Chorus and The Mellomen
  • "You Can Fly!" - The Jud Conlon Chorus and The Mellomen
  • "A Pirate's Life" - Mr. Smee; The Pirates
  • "Following the Leader" - John and Michael Darling; The Lost Boys
  • "What Made the Red Man Red?" - The Indian Tribe, (Candy Candido and The Mellomen)--This song has become very controversial due to its racist stereotypes of Native Americans; lyrics and actions in sequence suggest that Indian men maintain a permanent blush due to their constant pursuit of Indian women.
  • "Your Mother and Mine" - Wendy Darling
  • "The Elegant Captain Hook" - Captain Hook; Mr. Smee; The Pirates
  • "You Can Fly!" (reprise) - The Jud Conlon Chorus and The Mellomen
  • "Never Smile at a Crocodile" - The lyrics were not heard, but the music was.
The melody for "The Second Star to the Right" was originally written for Alice in Wonderland as part of a song to be entitled "Beyond the Laughing Sky".

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