Sunday, October 3, 2010

Dumbo Part 24

Finally, Dumbo triumphs and shows his worth.

Note the large gap between shots 3 and 18. The missing shots that are on the draft are all of the clown fireman arriving and preparing to fight the fire. The Disney studio wisely decided not to delay Dumbo's triumph any more than necessary. Now that the audience knows Dumbo can fly, they are waiting to see the secret revealed and wonder how it will affect Dumbo's life.

The idea of the magic feather is frankly hokey, but it serves an important storytelling purpose. It's a convenience for the film makers, as Dumbo should not believe in the feather as he didn't have it before waking up in the tree. It's more logical to believe that Dumbo's "magic feather" should be alcohol. However, because the audience knows Dumbo can fly, there would be no suspense in this sequence without some way to cast doubt on his eventual success. As Dumbo believes in the feather and he loses it during his descent, the audience is left guessing what will happen.

The wind and siren sound effects during Dumbo's fall from the building are very effective in ramping up the suspense. Note also the airplane sound effects when Dumbo pulls out of the dive. Logically, the sound makes no sense but it is emotionally right.

Dumbo's shadow, which showed he could fly in the last sequence, is once again an important storytelling device as his shadow moves over the ringmaster and the crowd.

It's a little surprising how much Dumbo goes after the clowns compared to the elephants. The clowns were insensitive and ignorant, but the elephants knew full well what they were doing.

This sequence feels somewhat truncated. Once Dumbo takes his comic revenge on his tormentors, there's really nothing left for him to do. There's one more short sequence to wrap up a loose end, but the story is effectively over here.

The layouts for camera moves in this sequence are very effective, both during the fall and after. The moves add to the sense of urgency during the fall and afterwards bolster the gracefulness of Dumbo's flight.

The stand-out animation here is by Les Clark. His work on Timothy during Dumbo's descent is excellent and it's a shame he doesn't have more footage in the film. Grant Simmons and Ray Patterson do the clowns here, though humour comes from the clowns' humiliation, not their planned antics. Walt Kelly returns for a couple of ringmaster shots. It's a shame that some of the shots are uncredited, especially Dumbo's machine gunning the peanuts at the elephants.

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