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Friday, February 7, 2014

253 of 1001 Movies: Dumbo (1941)

Most of us seen this when we were children as long as we were born after 1941. Dumbo lived on so long as a popular movie though that it was still just as popular to show kids as it was upon it's release. The elephant would be the most recognized cartoon name in history as well. But I got to thinking what makes Dumbo so popularly good that it's on my list? Well it is the fourth cartoon released from Disney and employs some rare techniques for cartoons. It's also the shortest Disney film there is, so for those with short attention spans it's perfect. Though going back now I also realize that this movie might be rated PG nowadays with the smoking birds, and the drunk Dumbo.

Summary: Dumbo is delivered by a stork to his mother, and at first everyone is cooing over the new cute baby elephant. Until his ears pop and reveal that they are abnormally huge. This sets up the young elephant for ridicule from humans, but also his own kind. His only friend is Timothy, who also believes that Dumbo has potential to be a star. Dumbo's ears though prove to get in his way making him clumsy until he discovers they have the potential for flight.


Acting: Well everything is a voice over in this movie, and I'm not insanely familiar with the voices. I don't even know that they used Hollywood actors at the time to do voice overs, or whether people just became voice overs during the time instead of doing other acting. Edward Brophy has the most recognizable voice as the mouse, Timothy. Brophy's voice is very old school, and brings out the fact this was made in the 40's, but he gives the mouse a tone of personality. I just couldn't help but think of Jimmy the Cricket as that is what the voice reminded me of. Verna Felton was the lead female elephant that taunted Dumbo. She sounds like the elder so it's an obvious put togther. There are a host of other voices, but the lead title character, Dumbo, never talks. Perhaps because he is a baby, and him not talking contributes to the innocence of his childhood.

Filming: With cartoons it's harder to really critique. I don't know much about the cartoon world. I will say that vividly Dumbo is beautifully crafted by artists, and the watercolor background brings out the pastel softness that works to make this okay for kids. It balances a lot of the darker themes of the movie as well by keeping it very light in color. This Disney movie has the least memorable songs of any Disney movie I've watched though. I don't remember hearing anyone sing these tunes over and over.

Plot: So the plot features things that are definitely fantasy. But who cares? It's a lot of fun that this movie expands the imagination. I think adults can still enjoy the humor in this movie that might not be as obvious to kids, and kids will hopefully be able to take comfort in relating to Dumbo if they have encountered bullying. It's just a simple reflection of some of the horrible stuff that can occur even if you're younger. Of course in a very Disney like fashion things end on a pitch perfect note, and unlike a lot of recent Disney movies the rushed plot allows for very little extended development on characters and even growing emotionally attached to the characters.

There is something simple and adorable about this movie. It also is nice to think of time where movies could be made like this without an uproar over the littlest things. Dumbo's story somehow still touches the heart even years later. It's just sad to see the very elephant so badly treated! There isn't much depth to the story though outside of the pretty colors though. There is still that creepy hallucinating scene as well after Dumbo gets drunk that I can't make sense of either.

Rating 7 of 10.


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