….I think I can, I think I can, I think I can….
Dumbo is the story about overcoming obstacles and eventually succeeding. What obstacles? Being made fun of from the second you are “born.” Dumbo is humiliated by animals and people alike, whether it is because of his ears or because they force him into being a clown. Everyone knows that clowns are the low men on the circus totem pole. Anyway, with as many teen suicides as there have been due to bullying, I’m surprised this film hasn’t made a recent comeback. I mean, besides being released from the Disney vault and reissued on Blu-Ray/DVD.
Dumbo was the first Disney film to tug on my heart strings. How can anyone not feel for Dumbo and his mother as she cradles him from behind bars? (It ranks up there with The Fox and the Hound and The Lion King.)
and wow, are we really not touching on the racism or the drunkenness?
For the record, the lead crow is named “Jim Crow.” I’m just going to leave that there. Does it bother me? Absolutely not. Did I understand when I was a small child? Nope. (However one of my favorite Walt Disney quotes is: ” You’re dead if you aim only for kids. Adults are only kids grown up, anyway.”) On the other hand, I’m a white girl who’s pretty much lived in a suburban white bubble. Maybe it would bother me if I came from another place. On the other other hand, maybe it wasn’t ever meant to be racist and people just read too much into things. Who knows. Not my place to say.
As for the Pink Elephants scene….as trippy as it is, it’s not as bad as Donald’s trip in The Three Caballeros (just wait 3 more weeks.) But what does bother me are the lyrics, “Pink elephants on parade, here they come, hippity hoppity.” What? Hippity hoppity? They are elephants, not bunnies.
Other things to note about the film:
It was Sterling Holloway’s first Disney film. He played the stork (which, as Jon pointed out, does look like the pickle stork). You may recognize his voice as the Cheshire Cat, Kaa (The Jungle Book), Winnie the Pooh, Roquefort (The Aristocats), the Narrator in segments of both The Three Caballeros and Make Mine Music, and adult Flower in Bambi. I’m a little bit in love with this man. For the record, he has done many more things other than Disney voices. Go appreciate him.
As Jon pointed out, both Jumbo and Dumbo do not speak. Why? I’m not sure the real reason. However, it is awfully powerful animation wise, to be able to get that much emotion and expression through an elephant without speech. Come on, what other elephant do you know that is that expressive? By the same token, many of the human characters in the film are featureless, but they can speak. This puts more emphasis on the animal characters. A possible answer to both why there are no features on several humans and why the two elephants do not speak could be for budgetary concerns. Dumbo was made cheaply and simply to help recover from Fantasia’s financial losses. It is also why the film is so short, clocking in at just over an hour. The film was made to make a profit. That’s it.
To counter Jon’s argument about Jumbo being released from Mad Elephant prison, I offered the idea that perhaps her sentence was up. Perhaps whoever is in charge of such things deemed her no longer mad. It could have nothing to do with her son whatsoever….or Dumbo could be famous and get whatever he wants. Whatever.
Why does Timothy Q. Mouse have a ringmaster coat on? What exactly is his purpose? Is there a secret little mouse circus? Is he delusional? Speaking of Timothy being delusional, is there a George or was he just completely drunk and making up a name? Something to think about, eh?
Two things I greatly love about this film: the music. It’s catchy. It’s brilliant. I love it. AND Casey Jr. I didn’t know the tidbit about where his name came from, but I do know Walt was an avid train lover. Casey Jr. has his own attraction at both Disneyland and Disneyland Paris and he has been in several other pieces of Disney animation.