Hello and welcome to In Too Deep Into Disney, where I over-analyse each animated Disney film over the course of a year.
Make Mine Music. Almost the rejected off-spring of Fantasia in many respects. Hell one of the shorts was meant to be for Fantasia. But this isn’t so much a look at the film, but more of how successful short fiction tends to be. Am I doing this just to pad out the blog? Well lets find out.
The Martin and the Coys: Lets talk about censorship for a moment because, if you get this film in North America, you’ll never see this short. Apparently it has been banned there. Why? Well the story is quite simple, two warring families end up wiping themselves out and the only two survivors (a young man and a gal respectively) fall in love and get married. Although it’s not long before they’re fighting as well. So why is this short censored? Well it could be the excessive amount of gun play, but that happens all the time in America if the media is to be believed. Perhaps it’s because it has the highest death toll then any other Disney short (since, you know, everyone in the families bar two end up getting killed). Regardless it does emphasis the idea of the power of short fiction, since there is no dialogue. Instead there’s just narration to expand on the plot. A very simplistic Romeo and Juliet plot on top of that with a twist. Still one of my favourite shorts though.
Blue Bayou: A short cut from Fantasia… yeah that’s all I can really talk about since it left such a little impression on me. In fact a lot of this film does feel like the unofficial sequel to Fantasia, taking the idea that Walt originally had to make ‘package films’ (short films tied to a certain theme) that could be re-released and updated every few years. So this short would fit better into Fantasia, but it does show that the idea never did leave Walt. Of course the other reason why this was a thing was because they didn’t have the funds to make feature length films after the war (nor the animators sadly, due to the tragedy that was WW2), but still, nice to see no idea ever really dies.
All The Cats Join In: Again a good way of showing how powerful short fiction animation can be without having any dialogue. We meet the characters (and we meet a lot of one young lady, to the point where I’m surprised it wasn’t cut or censored), learn their motivations, watch how they achieve them etc. etc. In fact if I may diverge for a moment and talk about the Academy Award Nominations for Short Animated Features in this years awards…
I mention in the title the power of short fiction; and the shorts that really demonstrated it were Paperman, Adam and Dog and The Longest Daycare (with Head Over Heels coming in a very close fourth). All of these films lacked dialogue, set up the protagonist and their struggles in a matter of seconds, then likewise get us to care for these characters for the duration of the short film. It is a testament to good short fiction that can establish a connection so quick off the bat, but also shows how powerful it can be. Not all fiction makes us care about the protagonist; and they can have a long time to do it. So do it in 5-10 minutes is what makes these shorts so great.
Without You: And since I spent a paragraph talking briefly about how good the shorts were for this years Oscars, I’ll skip over this short better suited for Fantasia.
Casey at the Bat: Now we get to the more interesting shorts in this movie. Namely the story about one man who gets over-confident and loses. I suppose I could over-analyse how old Casey is a narcissist, or how Disney has a small quick service restaurant dedicated to it, or how it really is symbolic of the American pastime of baseball, but there’ll be no real point. Lets just say it’s a clever little comic ballad that works well here. Though on the upside it does help introduce the main character Casey in just a few well-chosen lines of rhyme. We learn that he’s a good baseball player, a bit of an egotist, but can clearly back it up according to his past encounters. It’s just another example of what I was talking about before.
Two Silhouettes: Yeah, another short that isn’t any deeper then what the concept suggests. Next.
Peter and the Wolf: A pretty famous work of art, all I can really do here is theorize how it’d be remade nowadays. Modernised and the like. You have Peter, a newbie cop fresh on the force, on the hunt for the ‘Wolf’, a deranged serial killer on the loose. His boss, the ‘grandpa’ of this story, forbids it. However he decides to go out anyway and meets up with a few interesting characters: A young prostitute by the name of the Bird, a drunk older man by the name of Ducky and a pimp by the name of Cat. Anyway Peter talks to each one in turn to find out what happened to the ‘Wolf’, only to have poor Ducky get killed off by the serial killer himself. Nevertheless Peter manages to subdue and arrest the Wolf, being the hero of the city. Now that’s how to do a modern day version of it.
After You’ve Gone: Random instruments running around, not a bad short, just nothing to really say. Next.
Johnny Fedora and Alice Blue Bonnet: I’ve mentioned it a few times before, but here’s where the power of narration really takes affect. If you took away the narration, would the short still work? Well yeah, I suppose it would, cos you know the characters motivations etc. But it’s the narration that really sells the story and gets us invested in the characters. But no other short demonstrates that than…
The Whale Who Wanted To Sing At The Met: I’m not gonna over-analyse this short because I don’t want to spoil any of it, but safe it to say you really should check it out to see just how great short fiction can be.
So there you have it. A rather clumsy look at a rather good Disney film. If you disagree with anything, or have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. Next time: Fun and Fancy Free, Or Why Mickey Mouse Sucks As A Character