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Subject: Dumbo rss

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John So-And-So
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So, I finally got around to putting Dumbo in the DVD player. It's been a busy week, and I wanted to have a few beers when I watched it, so I'd be in the Pink Elephant spirit.

First off, after just a few minutes of watching the movie, I noticed that the animation wasn't as good as I thought it would be. At first I just noticed it had simple backgrounds with plain, bright color schemes, and thought this might be a stylistic choice: simpler and brighter to convey more of a storybook feeling. But it became apparent pretty quickly that there were a lot of skipped frames and held frames.

That being said, sub-par Disney animation is still visually very enthralling. I was especially taken with the infant Dumbo, when he first crawls out of the stork's bindle. This little elephant just might be the cutest drawing of anything, ever:



He was so cute I literally couldn't help but laugh out loud. I think the simple animation actually helped this angle. With nothing to distract from expressive eyes and movements, the viewer is really keyed into Dumbo himself.

Even if the animation was a step back, the music more than makes up for it. For a cartoon only about an hour long, Dumbo is simply FULL of song. It contains half a dozen songs that have been living in some deep corner of my brain for the last 25 years. I found myself able to sing along with them, even though I haven't even THOUGHT of them since I saw this as a child. Casey Junior, Pink Elephants, When I See An Elephant Fly.

And the song the roustabouts sing as they pitch the circus tents! As a kid, this was one of my very favorite film scenes, and as an adult I got chills when it started. There's something very primal and soothing to me about these faceless, almost shapeless men performing manual labor in the rain, chanting their finest worksong to the the clank of hammers and the blaring of horns. That's art.



Soon, Dumbo's mother was jailed, and I got that weird deja vu feeling again. I hadn't remembered this thing for 25 years, but my stomach was dropping, and I knew something very sad was about to happen. The mouse takes Dumbo to see his mother chained up in her jail-trailer. This is one of the saddest scenes in movie history.

Even knowing full well that everything turns out OK in the end, it absolutely broke my heart to watch this. Dumbo is unable to raise himself high enough to see his mother's face through the window. She's chained to the wall, so she can't see out, either. But she can reach her trunk out to touch him and caress his face. Tears roll down his little cheeks as he alternates between smiling, and wincing in pain.



Later, I realized that Dumbo doesn't ever say a word during the whole movie, and it reminded me of a more recent kid's movie I'd seen (Wall-E), where the main character was virtually silent, which had almost the same effect on me. I think it's because when you watch a character that never speaks, you invest a lot of yourself into him. Without the character telling you how he feels, you assume he feels exactly like you do, and that makes the emotional impact a lot more intense. Regardless, I don't mind admitting I bawled my eyes out.

------

After that, Dumbo heads back to the tent for a drink of water, which has booze in it, and it's time for the big show.

I think Pink Elephants On Parade scared most of us as kids. You know why?

IT'S FUCKING MONSTROUS, that's why.

Before I go any further, I really think you need to do us both a favor and watch the first two minutes of this:



This is for CHILDREN?! What adult in their right mind lets their kid watch this?! Again, not because it's "inappropriate", but because YOUR CHILD WILL NEVER SLEEP AGAIN IF YOU DO.

When I was 7, I didn't understand what "getting drunk" meant, not even in an abstract way. My parents had never told me what alcohol was. So all these horrible things were happening to Dumbo for no apparent reason. The whole thing is a nightmarish jumble of unearthly motion, sickening color, and circus music just oozing insanity. But I think it's the holes where the eyes should be that really stay with you.

Oh god, those holes.

Also, the fellows who sang that thing are god-damn masterful. I wouldn't have thought you could make me feel like I'm going berserk through your intonation of "seein' things you know there ain't", but apparently you can. Did booze do this to you in the 40's, or is this whole scene a veiled reference to drugs? Either way, I just about shit my pants, out of both revulsion and admiration.

Now we're almost done. Just gotta get to those racist crows.

The funny thing is, I thought of this section as the main focus of the movie (Dumbo learning to fly), but it's really just the last 5-10 minutes of the film. Also, there's really no drama about Dumbo needed to be convinced into believing in himself, he seems to assume the power is within him right from the get-go. The "magic feather" ruse doesn't seem neccessary, Dumbo seems rarin' to fly before the mouse and crows think it up, and it takes all of three words to get him to fly after he drops the feather.

Anyways, those crows. I'd been lead to believe in my last thread that they were incredibly offensive, but I have to admit, I didn't see it. I found them to be based on unpleasant ethnic stereotypes, but I really don't see anything racist about them. They behave like "po' country negroes", but only in the way the mouse behaves like a "streetwise Brooklyn jew", or the other elephants behave like a "WASPy social circle". The crows aren't ignorant, or servile, or lazy. Maybe they're a little minstrel-ey, but isn't every single Disney character? To me, this is just more mildly offensive caricature, like in Pinocchio.

Anyway, my review of Dumbo was not as funny as I'd hoped, because Dumbo really wasn't that funny. It was, however, touching and magical, and more like what I think of when I think "Disney". I'm just glad it had a happy ending; if I remember The Fox and the Hound correctly, I may not make it through these.

Rating: 4 stars
Animation: Passable. Not 'up to par' for Disney as I imagine it.
Music: Classic. Songs that buried themselves in my brain 25 years ago, without me knowing.
Observations: Oh god... those holes.
I wonder what people who brought their little ones to the theater in 1940 thought when that came onscreen.
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João 'Finding a new way to make you WTF today' Marum
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I can't wait for your review of The Black Cauldron.

Oh boy, that will be a fun one.
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The Seal of Approval
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CapAp wrote:
This is for CHILDREN?! What adult in their right mind lets their kid watch this?! Again, not because it's "inappropriate", but because YOUR CHILD WILL NEVER SLEEP AGAIN IF YOU DO.


Aw, I watched this as a child, and I turned to be a perfectly normal adult, perfectly...you know, I'm even in Chit Chat...wait a second...Chit Chat???

I rest my case.

CapAp wrote:
When I was 7, I didn't understand what "getting drunk" meant, not even in an abstract way. My parents had never told me what alcohol was.


Clearly your parent's mistakes. I think education should start sooner. THEN it would have been a valuable lesson to you.
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Morgan Dontanville
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I must have a very high resistance to alcohol, because that's never happened to me.
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午餐先生
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Quote:
This is for CHILDREN?! What adult in their right mind lets their kid watch this?! Again, not because it's "inappropriate", but because YOUR CHILD WILL NEVER SLEEP AGAIN IF YOU DO.


Actually, animated films weren't just for kids back in their heyday.

Think about some of the themes raised by those movies. We showed my 7-year-old daughter "Pinocchio" about a month ago. She was all good until the point that kid turned into a donkey (jackass was the word used in the film).

Snow White's evil step-mother wanted her heart in that jeweled box.

"Fantasia" had half-nekkid fauns and stuff.

Bambi's mom dies at the hands of a hunter.

In "The Three Caballeros" there's a whole segment where Donald chases women in swimsuits.

Think of all the WW2 cartoons Warner Brothers made (Private Snafu, in particular). You can find some at http://www.vintagetooncast.com/search/label/looney_toons.
There's all kinds of smoking, burlesque, drinking, racial stereotypes, blackface, dirty old men and cross-dressing.

Yeah. Those old cartoons most certainly weren't for kids, but nowadays it seems like that's all they're for sometimes.
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John So-And-So
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MGBM wrote:
I can't wait for your review of The Black Cauldron.

Oh boy, that will be a fun one.


You know, I have never seen that one, and I actually don't even know what it's about. NO SPOILERS

Bambi is coming next. I don't remember anything about this one except that his mother gets shot, and he has Thumper and a skunk for friends. I don't even know what the plot is.
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J
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CapAp wrote:

Bambi is coming next.

Boring. No racism.
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Morgan Dontanville
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mister lunch wrote:

Bambi's mom dies at the hands of a hunter.


CapAp wrote:

Bambi is coming next. I don't remember anything about this one except that his mother gets shot, and he has Thumper and a skunk for friends. I don't even know what the plot is.


GREAT! Way to ruin it for me!
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John So-And-So
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Sorry man, I thought everyone knew about Thumper.
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Yeah it certainly isn't just you - Pink Elephants is #2 on the list of Nostalgic Mindfucks!
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