The fifth movie released by the studio created by Roy and Walt Disney was the animated movie Dumbo (1941). With the live-action Dumbo (2019) coming to theaters later this month, we watched the 64-minute feature film originally released 78-years ago.
(Mr. Stork as voiced by Sterling Holloway in Dumbo).
The story of the original Dumbo movie began with the tale of the circus at winter’s rest in Florida. We are introduced to the fact of the circus with many storks bringing joyful packages of new animal kids for the animals in the circus. Arriving a bit later than the other delivery storks was the flying character of Mr. Stork, bringing to the circus the title character of the movie, our very own Dumbo.
(Dumbo as voiced by Mel Blanc in Dumbo).
Dumbo was delivered to his mother for nurturing, raising, and the emotional support one would expect from her mother, Mrs. Jumbo. Dumbo begins his time rejected by the adult elephants within the circus with his mother, though Mrs. Jumbo takes it upon herself early within the sequence to shelter her boy with big ears from the jokes that come his way for his looks as well as the clumsiness that become a part of his experience.
(Mrs. Jumbo as voiced by Verna Felton in Dumbo).
The circus lacked a way to Dumbo into their show, and with the cultural norms of the period went about movie the big eared little buy immediately into an attraction for the circus with all the full grown elephants. This initially included interacting with the circus patrons, which led to a dimwitted, big-eared boy teasing Dumbo for Dumbo’s big ears. After coming to her son’s defense, Mrs. Jumbo was declared a mad elephant and separated from her son.
(Smitty the bully was not voiced in Dumbo).
Separated from his mother, the adult elephants would not give Dumbo the emotional support or friendship he needed to learn how to interact with his ears in the circus. Seeing the struggle that Dumbo was experiencing, the larger story of Dumbo began to take a more positive turn when a mouse came to the first level of rescue with friendship.
(The adult elephants who rejected the character Dumbo in the movie Dumbo).
Timothy Q. Mouse sized up the predicament in a way that no elephant, adult, or other animal in the whole circus would. The fundamental need for any person is to be liked for who they are, and the larger aim at redemption for Dumbo the movie rested right here. Timothy makes friends with Dumbo, helps get Dumbo into see his isolated mother Mrs. Jumbo, and even speaks into the ear of the evil ringmaster at the center of the circus.
(Timothy Q. Mouse as voiced by Edward Brophy in Dumbo).
It was Timothy Q. Mouse who whispered to the Ringmaster of the circus as the ringmaster slept one night between after Dumbo and Mrs. Jumbo were separated. Timothy suggested ways to incorporate Dumbo into the circus act, which the ringmaster proceeded to heed. While this first effort did not work, the effort did lead to Dumbo being paired with the clowns in a prophetic sequence for the story.
(The Ringmaster as voiced by Herman Bing in Dumbo).
Dumbo would be paired with the clowns after being rejected by the adult elephants for a second time. After dismissing all concepts of feelings in Dumbo and seeking to have him jump from ever higher heights, one careless night the clowns managed to get both Dumbo and Timothy Q. Mouse inebriated with some special water.
(The clowns who worked the character Dumbo into their circus act in the movie Dumbo).
The special inebriation led to an extended and disconnected dream sequence for Timothy and Dumbo. Much fanciful music and imagery followed this sequence. The prime delight of the sequence as experienced was the Pink Elephants on Parade.
(The pink elephants on parade in the movie Dumbo).
When our movie heroes awoke, confused and high above the ground within a tree, they met a new set of friends. The crows had the wisdom to suggest flying to Dumbo and Timothy as the means to escape the tree, return to their circus, and survive the risk introduced through the circus clowns interested in keeping their places within the circus.
(The crows with friendship and support for Dumbo and Timothy Q. Mouse in the movie Dumbo).
The out-of-sight outcome that won the movie was when Dumbo and Timothy needed to jump from their highest height in the movie to survive the fall demanded of the clowns. Dumbo’s had learned to use his ears as wings, took flight to win the esteem of the audience and his circus mates, and was rewarded with an outcome that recognized who he was and what he could do in earning love.
While the trope and narrative arc of this movie are showing the age of being almost 80-years old, the movie was well-constructed and seemingly appropriate for the time it was written. From a young age, this film has not been a favorite Matt Lynn Digital contributor Lynn. Overall, our movie rating of the animated Dumbo as 3.5-stars on a scale of one-to-five stars.
Matt – Saturday, March 23, 2019