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Silly Symphonies

I watched some of my new DVD this evening - a collection of Disney's Silly Symphony's from the 1930's. The ones I watched tonight were the ones inspired by fables and nursery rhymes. They're not so much lol funny as you'd expect from short cartoons, but they are entertaining in a variety of ways.

Back then, Walt and his studio were state-of-the-art and forward thinking, trying out all kinds of things in animation that had never been done before, and working in colour well before major features were shot in colour.The earlkiest ones especially have a vigour you don't often see later cartoons by any company.

'The Golden Touch' is a version of the Midas story, set in vaguely medieval times. When Midas begs to be relieved of his curse (set on him by an irish leprachaun), he offers to exchange everything he owns for a hamburger patty, which is rather startling given the setting.
'Lullaby Land' featues a baby that ventures into a naughty land and is threatened by some downright sinister bogeymen. It's passed as a U cert but I bet it could give nightmares to some kids.
In 'The Flying Mouse', the hero's mother spanks him, using the end of his own tail, and his bottom turns bright red. I bet they'd never get away with that nowadays.
'The Country Cousin' is a mouse who visits a relative who lives in the big city. Country Cousin falls into a glass of champagne and gets sozzled. I bet you wouldn't get that either in a children's cartoon nowadays.

My absolute favourite bit so far is a background detail in 'Three Little Pigs'. The sensible pig has two framed pictures on the wall of the house made of bricks. One is of a sow with a litter of suckling piglets, and is labelled 'Mother'. The other picture is of a string of sausages, labelled 'Father'.

And I also realized that you can sing 'All Your Base Are Belong To Us' to the tune of 'Who's Afraid Of The Big, Bad Wolf'.

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August 2018


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