Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Short Subject: Mickey’s Elephant (1936)



Between this and ‘Donald’s Penguin’ we have excellent examples of why you do not give people pets as gifts.



We also have a short that really has nothing to do with Mickey.  Yeah he gets Bobo the elephant and gives him the ball to play with, but after that he’s off screen painting the elephant house until it’s time for said house to be blown over thanks to Pluto’s antics.

The short really is more about Pluto and his fear that he is being replaced by Bobo.  It’s a standard plot for Pluto and that makes it rather boring.  The most interesting thing for me in fact is watching the scene where Bobo sucks the ball back under the fence and Pluto looks at in confusion.  Frank Thomas described the scene in an interview once as an example of how Norm Ferguson, one of the animators on this short, was getting the characters to think.  That’s something the Disney Company has become so well known for in terms of likable appealing sympathetic characters in their works as opposed to being only about gags, or broad actions and reactions.  It’s something that can be seen with Bobo as well when he makes a golf tee for the ball and hits it with his trunk.

Overall though the short is just okay, it’s not bad certainly, Bobo’s design is nice and I like that him antagonizing Pluto is done out of childlike curiosity and not malice.  I can see what Frank Thomas is talking about with the subtler animation of thoughts for characters versus things like the sparks of surprise used even just the year previous in ‘Mickey’s Garden’.  It’s speaks to the sophistication the medium was developing at this time and would perfect over the golden age of animation.  However, on a story level the idea of Pluto being jealous of a new pet is standard, Mickey doesn’t have anything really interesting to do, and the ending is rather abrupt with Pluto smacking the devil on his shoulder and glaring at the camera.   

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