Sunday, 28 December 2014

Review : Disney's Dumbo (1941)

Dumbo: Ridiculed because of his enormous ears, a young circus elephant is assisted by a mouse to achieve his full potential.

I am very fond of the flying elephant with the big ears, mainly because the story is about low self confidence, and having the confidence in yourself to achieve your full potential, and sometimes you need help a long the way in order to enable you to ensure that you realise that.

So the story goes that Mrs Jumbo, is expecting a baby and the baby arrives but the baby had huge ears, and he is mocked by these horrible gossiping elephants who are up their own arses and practically disown Dumbo as being an elephant. They see him as a clown.

The main problem with Dumbo, is of course his generous ears. It's not natural to see an elephant with ears the size of Dumbo's. And during the time period in which the film is set anything that is different or out of the ordinary, is mocked. But Dumbo's Mother can't stand by and watch others laugh at her baby, so she lashes out and is considered to be 'a dangerous elephant' and is put in solitary confinement.

The Ring Master of the circus, who is the villain of the piece, is a very cruel man. He see's the bigger picture and see's what the public see, and is an entertainer, but what makes his character so evil is the fact that he does come across as quite selfish, and really mean. He one of those undermined Disney villains who was there from the early days but isn't so much a big star villain who stands out like : 'Cruella De Vil', 'Jafar' or 'Scar' for example. He's just ordinary.

What amazes me about Dumbo is that it is the shortest hour of your life. You watch this film and you think that this short and sweet story about a shy little circus elephant with supersized ears is considered controversial, because of its depiction of the black crows. On the one hand, critics claim the crows who were in fact all voiced by African-American actors, are animated minstrels, whereas Disney apologists say the crows are the only likeable characters besides Dumbo, his mother, and Timothy the mouse. In my eyes the crows in Dumbo can come across as racist remarks at the time, which in the time of the 1940's is just shrugged off an ignored and passed off as being sensible. 

If you're okay with the representation of the crows, there are still a couple of disturbing scenes, particularly when Mrs. Jumbo is captured after defending Dumbo. Plus, Dumbo and Timothy accidentally getting drunk and hallucinate the "Pink Elephants on Parade" segment, that's alternately trippy, creepy, and cute. Overall, the message is that we should celebrate and not mock each other's differences.

So it's a sweet film, and I admire it a lot.  9/10!

NEXT: The Grand Budapest Hotel

No comments:

Post a Comment