- Animation | Family | Musical - 31 October 1941 (USA)
Ratings: 7.4/10 from 46,752 users
Reviews: 100 user | 85 critic
Ridiculed because of his enormous ears, a young circus elephant is assisted by a mouse to achieve his full potential.
Directors:Samuel Armstrong, Norman Ferguson
Writers:Helen Aberson (based on the book by), Harold Pearl (based on the book by)
Stars:James Baskett, Herman Bing, Edward Brophy
Dumbo was probably the first Disney film I ever saw. I remember popping my old video tape into the player, sitting through all the previews and copyright warnings, and then smile with joy as the opening credits came up. I loved Dumbo because it was colourful and fun, despite the intense cruelty that our little protagonist and his mother go through.
Of course, there were some things I noticed that I'd been blind to at the age of three. For example, there are a few WWII refernces - I'll leave you to figure them out. Another example is the crows. They sound a lot like the stereotype of black people in America at the time. This might seem a little insensitive, but trust me, there's worse things out there. Dumbo is not racist. Remember that those crows, aside from Timothy Mouse, are the only characters who feel sympathy for Dumbo. I feel that the crows all share a close bond and that they are somewhat outcasts too. And oh yes, they have the most catchy and irresistable song!
Dumbo is such an adorable little elephant. Like similar characters such as Pinocchio and Bambi, he has that round 'pudding like' charm. This gives him the appeal of a human baby. He has adorable little blue eyes which give away all his emotion. He does not speak a single word and yet he moves you to tears. It's the way he acts and his innocent expressions that really talk to you. As well as not being much of a talker, Dumbo isn't much of a thinker either. He just naively follows Timothy mouse, all in his own little world.
The other characters are interesting too. Timothy is a fiesty little rodent with a kind heart. The other elephants remind me of the girls at my school who like nothing more than to gossip. I might also mention the train - Casey Junior. He seems to be alive but he isn't creepy. (Thomas the Tank Engine scared the heck out of me!) He has his own catchy rhythm which is just pure fun to listen to. The Ringmaster has the most funny expressions too!
The soundtrack is a real treat. If you do not tear up during 'Baby Mine,' then please see your doctor for your heart has turned into coal. 'Pink Elephants on Parade' is a funny but slightly disturbing sequence that gets stuck in your head with it's clever lyrics and artistic animation.
Dumbo is a very colourful film, but there are times when life in the circus can be very bleak. In an attempt to protect a her youngster from some harassing boys, Mrs Jumbo is cruelly seperated from her baby and poor Dumbo is ignored by the other elephants. The film expertly conbines the romantic view of the circus - bright lights and colours, animals and clowns with the realities - greed, hard work and animal cruelty. Anyone who thinks that some circuses can be 'humane,' then they'd better see Dumbo as it will change their mind.
Bambi may be at the top for me, but Dumbo is just too good to put down. For a film that's only sixty minutes long, it's a real emotional feast upon the eyes and the mind.
However, I'm only giving four stars because Dumbo really needs restoring and remastering. Hope there's a Platinum Edition coming soon.