In Too Deep Disney vs Warner Bros #3: The Ants and the Grasshopper
Hello and welcome to In Too Deep Disney vs Warner Bros, where I put these two studios at each other’s throats to see who comes out on top.
Now Disney’s biggest claim to fame are their fairytales. The studio is practically built off the practice. Disney and fairytales go together hand in hand. But Warner Bros is no slouch either, what with their countless adaptations. So, the only fair way of judging these two studios is taking the adaptation of the exact same source material and seeing how it plays out. So without further ado…
Yeah, yeah, it’s an Aesop not a fairytale, but the concept is near enough.
It’s summertime and the ants are busy getting prepared for winter while the grasshopper just goes around singing his song. The ants warn them that if he doesn’t prepare he won’t be ready for winter, which the grasshopper laughs off. Sure enough, when winter comes the grasshopper is caught unprepared and, starving, goes beg the ants for help. Now depending how cruel you are, the ants either let him in, or let him starve to death. Moral of the story: Don’t be an artist, since it doesn’t pay well.
Disney’s The Grasshopper and the Ants: You have a grasshopper, you have ants, you have the story being retold beat for beat. There’s not a lot that can be really be said here, it’s the most literal interpretation of a fairytale I’ve seen in the series this far.
Warner Bros’ Porky’s Bear Facts: Meanwhile Warner Bros takes the concept of the short and instead makes it more metaphorical than literal. The concept is still there, one side works hard to be ready for winter, while another side does nothing and suffers for it. Yes they have a pig and a bear instead of ants and a grasshopper, but the theme of the story is there in spirit.
Winner: Well when we’re talking about faithfulness, The Grasshopper and the Ants take a very easy win. While both feature the more uplifting ending, Disney’s version is much closer to the truth.
For the record, the Ant is the protagonist if for no other reason than they’re the ‘good’ guys in the short, rather than the star of the shorts.
The Grasshopper and the Ants: When it comes to a protagonist in this short the closest we have is The Queen Ant. Now she looks like a regal Queen and all, so points on taking the more literal interpretation of the character. She works well within the role, having both a stern temper and a bit of compassion. Tellingly, she only allows the grasshopper to stay as long as he plays music, rather than letting a free-loader in. But she’s an interesting enough character that the short works.
Porky’s Bear Facts: Despite being named after Porky Pig, the titular character barely appears in the short. Aside from being at the beginning and the end, he ultimately does not do anything at all. But considering how Porky’s always been a bit of a bland character, it’s not surprising that he isn’t given much to do.
Winner: The Grasshopper and the Ants walk away with the win by having a more interesting character overall.
Aka the Grasshopper.
The Grasshopper and the Ants: The Grasshopper is a beauty in animation at times. He looks simply fantastic. He stands out on his own and looks great. Add to that his rather catchy song and his energetic movements and he’s a great character to watch on screen. It’s clear that he was partly an inspiration for Jimminy Cricket (only, you know, more interesting to watch). Oddly enough his philosophy is that ‘the world owes us a living’ and that the Good Lord will always provide. It’s an interesting idea, mostly because how it runs counter-intuitive to the story. If anything this short is an attack on blind faith, showing how that only believing in something is a good way of failing.
Porky’s Bear Facts: The Bear is an interesting character. Both ‘grasshoppers’ get songs, but while the Disney’s version is more upbeat and happy, the Warner Bros version is far more low tempo and relaxed. He’s an okay character, with most of the run time being dedicated to his suffering. But, unlike the Disney short, he doesn’t seem to learn his lesson by the end. Likewise this short has a ‘love thy neighbour’ sign hung up quite prominently to emphasise Christian values. Whether that’s an attack on the philosophy that Disney’s grasshopper had, I don’t know.
Winner: While the Bear is funny and has a few good moments, ultimately the more interesting character is The Grasshopper in The Grasshopper and the Ants, both in character and in visuals. There’s something fascinating about a character who has so much blind faith that it nearly leads him to ruin.
The Grasshopper and the Ants: Well you have The Ants, but how much they can be considered ‘characters’ isn’t something that’d be up to much debate. One stands out, since he dances to the grasshopper’s music, but on the whole they’re more set-pieces than characters.
Porky’s Bear Facts: Well we have The Dog, the sidekick to the Bear who mostly exists to play off the Bear’s antics and give the Bear a reason to go to Porky’s house (since he stalks the Dog all the way there after getting so hungry he wants to eat him). Also we have a mouse that plays a bit part, having more personality than the other side characters in the Disney short.
Winner: By virtue of actually having side characters, Porky’s Bear Facts walks away with a comfortable win.
The Grasshopper and the Ants: Once again Disney is top-notch when it comes to the animation. I’ve already gushed twice by how beautiful their animation is, and I’ll probably gush again two more times in the next two blogs. The use of colour is particularly impressive, coming out just under two years after the very first colour short. It’s rich, it’s vibrant, it’s fantastic and I need to say no more.
Porky’s Bear Facts: This short, on the other hand, is… dull. Visually speaking at least, there’s not a whole lot here to write home about. Considering that this film came out seven years after the Disney version, the fact that it’s in Black and White is a little bit inexcusable. Ultimately there’s not a lot here that really stands out, since being set in a snowy winter ends up making everything look a bit same-y.
Winner: Once again The Grasshopper and the Ants walks away with a win. It’s a fabulous looking short, whose use of colour still holds up today.
The Grasshopper and the Ants: Believe it or not, this short is pretty funny. A majority of the humour comes from the Grasshopper’s song, that is so happy and upbeat that you can’t help but cheer along with it. Add to that a few funny bits here and there (namely a dancing ant realise he’s just pissed off the Queen) and you’ve got a short that makes me laugh.
Porky’s Bear Facts: This short, on the other hand… It’s very ‘meh’. The Bear’s suffering is a bit funny at times, but it’s a one-note joke that quickly wears out its welcome. Other than that there’s not a lot really going on in this film. Porky’s reaction is pretty funny, but rather badly set-up (since we see the ‘love thy neighbour’ sign long before he opens the door). It’s not a particularly funny short.
Winner: Once again walking away with an easy win is The Grasshopper and the Ants. It’s a rare moment where the Warner Bros’ short wasn’t funny, but Disney really managed to make it work.
The Film Factor
The Grasshopper and the Ants: Oh how I adore this short. I really do, I think it’s fantastic. It looks great, it sounds great, it has interesting characters and brilliant animation. Easily one of Disney’s better shorts, and a reminder of what the company use to be like back in the day.
Porky’s Bear Facts: â€¦ Yeah, if it wasn’t for the fact that I needed something to go up against this short, I’d be hard pressed to argue that this short should really be here. It’s disposable and forgettable, featuring jokes that Warner Bros have done and will do better in the future, as well as characters that make no real impact. Even Porky is kinda forgettable in this.
Winner: â€¦ Do I really need to say it? The Grasshopper and the Ants takes the win with ease.
Well with a score of 6-1, The Grasshopper and the Ants takes home the win by a country mile. It’s a great short that really deserves the win and deserves to be a bit more remembered. If you ever have a spare ten minutes go hunt it down on YouTube and see Disney in its early years.
So there you have it. My third look at the Disney vs Warner Bros debate. If you disagree with anything, or have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. Till next time.