Disney Movies: Dumbo

So this movie was one that I had only seen a few times as a kid, but after seeing it again, realized I maybe should have seen it more. This film turned out to be a great one for adults and children alike and is one that most surely hold close to their heart. So — number quatre:



Just some background: Dumbo was released in October of 1941. So at this point, it’s clear that Disney is on a streak. He isn’t wasting any time since Pinocchio. It was another old movie with credits in the beginning, but what this movie does that the others didn’t is focus solely on animals. And not just animals, but animals from the circus. During this time period, circuses were much more of a thing. But they were also unethical and as unromantic as you could get, especially with how they treated their animals. Particularly their elephants. And! I think what Disney, perhaps even on accident, does is give audiences a brief insight as to this circus cruelty while also somehow spinning this movie into one of lighthearted glee for all. So — let’s begin!


The consistency of this story was as true as Snow White’s, only broken by the strange, infamous trip scene of the ‘Elephant Parade’. But at the same time, once we know that the characters are drunk during this, then the consistency goes out the window anyway. Does anyone really know what happens in that space of ultimate drunkenness? But we see Dumbo (or properly Jumbo Jr.) get made fun of for his ears the whole story, which also becomes the main conflict/progression for his mother to be chained up, etc., and we see in the end that it is an insecurity he overcomes by learning to do something cool with them — flying! The story is consistent with this idea, even during the strange interruption of drunken antics. (My roommate and I actually speculated that it was Absinthe because why else would they trip that ridiculously under the influence of alcohol? Those clowns really know how to party apparently!)


With this in mind, the characters progress quite a lot, too! Dumbo goes from being a scared, insecure elephant that just wants his mom back, to being able to take care of shit on his own. He even serves it back to the other, rude elephants who keep disowning him and crappy shit like that! And the fact that Dumbo never talks is actually a plus. I like that he has no speaking lines. He doesn’t need them to become the central character, the one that we stick behind and emphasize with. The mouse friend, Timothy, is a great character, too. Though perhaps he never really progresses that much, he stays strong and true until the very end. And, as a mentor and best friend, he serves his purpose well (unlike Jiminy Cricket over there). He’s still funny and sarcastic without quite being an asshole and helping Dumbo through his worst of times. Even the slightly racist crows are pretty iconic and progress in a matter of 10 minutes when Timothy tells it to them straight for laughing at Dumbo’s ears.


Here, we see that the animation is not much different from Fantasia and even Pinocchio, but this becomes a strength for this movie. Who doesn’t like Disney’s classic animation? I’m starting to think that it doesn’t really change until the 90s’ Disney movies rose from the depths and made their marks. And because our focus for this movie is on the animals, the animation is actually better. If we had any women for example, there would be less detail on some of the characters. But! Because of the focus on these intriguing animal characters, we see a lot of intricate, familiar detail. The few humans we do see are painted in grotesque ways to reflect their personalities, like the ugly red-headed human who makes fun of Dumbo’s ears in the beginning by flapping his coat. His face is actually made more animal-like. The music in this movie is also pretty sweet. We’re getting more into culture with this movie and can hear the jazz elements that were becoming more popular at the time. Obviously, it’s mainly with the introduction of the crows that we really hear the jazz tunes, and though that may be a tad racist, once again, it also adds a happy, lighthearted note to the whole film. Even the creepy trip scene with pink elephants gives us a catchy song to hold onto.


Though the story didn’t have a lot of depth, its plot is cute, fun, and even at the best of times, deeply touching and sad. It was one that had a more basic plot line to follow, which makes it better for children, especially with the more vibrantly colored scenes, but also was interesting enough for adults to allow themselves to enjoy. Most everything we saw made sense, even the fact that Dumbo could fly. I mean, we saw 5 elephants pile on top of each other, balanced precariously atop a single, red ball, so what could be more unbelievable than that at this point? But like Snow White, the movie does not have to explain these small “unbelievable” things as much because everything else just makes enough sense for us to follow the whole thing through. The only thing that perhaps still confuses me now is how Timothy and Dumbo got up in the tree at all, but again, when you’re under the major influence of alcohol, are there really any explanations at all? The story follows its plot the whole way through, we see the characters grow and become stronger, and we end on a happy note, with Mrs. Jumbo out of her prison and Dumbo free to fly behind the train with his best friend Timothy and crow supporters.


I was just happy there were far few sexual innuendos in this movie. What do you think?


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