Revisiting Disney: Dumbo (1941)

First let me say that I am quite excited for the Tim Burton live action Dumbo that is due out next year, especially after seeing the trailer.

Now, how they get an entire films length worth of material from the hardly 60 minutes animated film Dumbo from 1941 is beyond me. The story is short and sweet, which is fine for an animated film intended for children, but not enough for a full feature length film. I imagine they’ll deviate from it. But, I swear to god, if that song “Baby Mine” is not in that film, I will burn every theater to the ground. And, if it is included, I will 1,000% sob, loudly, during the film.

Anyway, I just wanted to refresh your memory about Dumbo. Do you remember how they discover that he can fly? Think real hard. You’ll never guess it. Dumbo and Timothy Mouse wake up in a tree one morning after a night of being blackout drunk. Yep. That’s it. They’re both awoken by crows (I’ll talk about those guys in a sec), and after falling out of the tree, Timothy Mouse figures that the only way they got up in that tree is because Dumbo’s ears enable him to fly, the obvious answer. I mean, thank god he was right though, otherwise one of those poor circus workers would have to clean up quite a nasty scene.

It’s funny. Nobody ever seems to remember that a night of heavy drinking is how they find out that Dumbo can fly. Bring it up to anybody. The only thing anybody ever remembers is that Dumbo is a flying elephant.

Also, though, what kind of liquor was in that bucket? They say it’s champagne, but it can’t be. My money is on absinthe due to the horrifying hallucinations of pink elephants on parade that both Dumbo and Timothy Mouse have. As catchy as that song is, that sequence is terrifying, particularly the elephant made entirely of other elephant heads. Yes. You read that correctly:

Related image
This is a children’s film. 

I briefly want to touch on the crows in this film. Looking at it today, it’s clearly racist. However, I did a little digging. Apparently, this film came out before any kind of association with African Americans and crows ever existed. Now, I honestly don’t know how true that is, but I will say that the crow characters are some of the smarter ones in the film. They were also nearly all voiced by African Americans, which was still pretty unheard of at the time. Hopefully, they leave those guys out of the live action film. Or, at least portray them differently. That would be cool.

Anyway, give Dumbo a rewatch. Sob uncontrollably during Mrs. Jumbo cradling Dumbo with her trunk while singing “Baby Mine”. Enjoy the hell out of the moment when Dumbo machine guns all the other elephants with peanuts (those bastards). And never forget that Dumbo discovers he can fly after a night of heavy drinking.

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