Friday, June 13, 2014

Project Disney: Dumbo

Project Disney: The plan is to tackle all of the Disney films, re-reading the classic stories and tales that inspired many of them and to look at how the changes the filmmakers made, the new elements they introduced and the essential elements they kept. We will, of course, be talking about the films as movies as well, saying why we enjoy them and what some of our favorite moments are, but our focus will be on looking at them as adaptations. For the films that are not drawn from any one work we’ll be looking at some of the possible literary influences that we see in the stories. I am participating in Project Disney inspired by Picture Me Reading!  

Honestly this is the Project Disney I was least looking forward to. I haven't seen Dumbo in years and years. It was always so sad to me as a kid so I didn't ever really bother watching it as an adult.  I did the same thing with Bambi but I have to be honest.. I really enjoyed watching that one as an adult. I'll start off by talking about the book Dumbo by by Helen Aberson and illustrated by Harold Perl.  This book really can't be found.  I looked everywhere.  The book is a Roll-A-Book which would've looked something like this:

This type of book was suppose to be new and revolutionary for children's books. Disney actually does not have a copy of the original Dumbo book.

I still find the movie very sad.  Dumbo's name was actually supposed to be Jumbo.  Then the stork brings him to his mother and she loves him.  When he is revealed to have large ears all the other elephants call him Dumbo.  So mean!  Dumbo is a total underdog story similar to the Ugly Duckling story.  Dumbo is the only leading Disney character that never speaks in the entire film.  I think this makes me even feel more feels for him.  I am happy when he is happy, sad when he is sad.  You might even recognize a few voices in this film from other Disney films.  This is back when they used voice actors instead of famous actors as voices in the films (like Tangled and Frozen for example). 

Dumbo's mother is amazing.  She truly loves him for who he is no matter what.  This is how all parents should be.. and reminds me of my own parents. At first it seems she is his only friend in the world until Timothy Q. Mouse comes on screen.  He is a great friend.  When Dumbo feels down Timothy takes him to see his mom who has been looked up as a mad elephant for sticking up for Dumbo when he was being made fun of. The song "Baby of Mine" is sung in the back ground and is so touching.  Beautiful.  The love between mother and son is just touching. 

Timothy and his buddy Dumbo accidentally get drunk together.  Parents today will probably not like this part at all.  Though when I was a kid and watching this movie I didn't realize they got drunk... I don't even know what I thought was happening to be honest.  The psychedelic part of Dumbo has always blown my mind. I am like.. umm.. wha???   It's a little scary too. I think that part of the movie is more like an acid trip then getting drunk! The animation and color here is good so I wonder if the animators threw this in to see what they could do. Plus as I understand this film was made cheap to make up for money last on Pinocchio and Fantasia so the "Pink Elephants on Parade" scene was probably cheap to make.

Now I suppose we should talk about the crows in the movie.  Everyone says they are racist crows.  Some of the earlier Disney films are part of the time they were made but at least Disney has tried to remove these from being exposed anymore.  Take Song of the South for example (not sure if I am going to be able to find a copy to watch when it's time to do that for Project Disney since it has never been released for home video). Fantasia also has a black centaur that is now removed from home video copes.  These crows fall in that category.

The crows are mean to Dumbo and the Timothy make such a great speech that they feel bad for being mean to Dumbo.  They give him a magic feather to hold and next thing you know Dumbo is flying!!  So he heads off to the circus to show them he can fly.  Dumbo loses feather... panic panic!  But it turns out he can fly without the feather after all!!  Now people are actually cheering for him instead of being mean to him.

This movie is very short.. I think maybe 60 minutes?  But in that time you will have so many emotions.  Dumbo is still not my favorite Disney film... not because it is a bad movie but because it does make me sad.  It makes me realize people are mean for no reason at all.  I am so glad though there is a happy ending.  Be sure to check out my other Project Disney:

Peter Pan
Treasure Planet
Sleeping Beauty
The Great Mouse Detective 
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Princess and the Frog
Beauty and the Beast
Lady and the Tramp
Alice in Wonderland
The Rescuers
The Rescuers Down Under
Oliver and Company
The Little Mermaid
101 Dalmatians
Fantasia 2000
The Jungle Book
The Emperor's New Groove
The Sword in the Stone
The Aristocats
The Lion King
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)
Winnie the Pooh (2011)
Robin Hood
The Black Cauldron
Mary Poppins
Lilo and Stitch  
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
Make Mine Music
Fox and the Hound
Melody Time 


  1. I LOVE Disney movies! Thanks for the trip down memory lane. :)

  2. Such a cool post! Dumbo isn't a particular favorite of mine either, especially because of that weird drunk elephant scene. That scared the crap out of me when I was younger, lol. It is, however, a very sweet and heartfelt movie. The Roll-A-Book concept is also really interesting. I look forward to future Project Disney posts!

  3. So many memories came up to me as I read ! Dumbo is such a cute little darling that you can't help but feel for him. The racist crows thing makes me think of the gay thing that people nowadays find in TV or cinema pairings when it's always been clear to me it was only friendship (Starsky and Hutch were gay ?!). Friendship would not exist if you believed them ! I don't know about the crows, I'm not Black so it may not strike me, but it never made me think about black people. But I always saw it in French so we never had the same voices, the same accents, maybe there lies the difference ? (PS : I loved the pink elephants as a kid !)

  4. I sobbed every time I watched Dumbo haha! And I thought the pink elephant scene was TERRIFYING, so I think some of those tears may have been from terror hahaha

  5. YEAH!! I love them too... this Project Disney has been super fun!

  6. I have never heard anyone say they love Dumbo. I mean no one. It is a hard movie to watch. You see someone being bullied, and since most of us have had some type of bullying in our youth we feel that pain all over again. Most of us love our parents so when Dumbo and his mom are torn apart that is way sad. I thought his mom died ( I couldn't remember till I re-watched it). But she doesn't. It is really a hard movie to watch.

  7. LOL! The Pink Elephant scene is strange. The art is fantastic but the lyrics of the song are just as odd as everything else!

  8. I didn't think about black people with the crows either (as a kid). Watching it as an adult though I can see where people think it's over the top. They make the crows CLEARLY black. I suppose that is where there are issues. Why can't they just be normal birds?

    I find that there are plenty of things people laughed at years ago that we don't laugh at now.. but you are right, on the other hand everyone is so rude. What really sad to me too is that people are rude and the laugh after it, or put an LOL after it and then it's supposed to be OK.

  9. I haven't seen Dumbo in such a long time, but I don't really remember being very fond of it. I think I found it too sad as well. And Dumbo is ridiculously cute, it's unbelievable that he would be teased! :) I didn't know Dumbo is the only Disney main character to not speak, and the whole thing about the crows was definitely over my head when I first saw it. Thank goodness. Also the rolling book concept for the original children's book sounds kinda fun! i wonder why the idea never took off! I think it would be neat with some really great illustrations.

  10. Honestly, I can't even remember watching Dumbo. I mean, I know who he is but the actual movie? I don't remember seeing. I should try and see it sometime though since it's fairly short. It's a bummer it's so sad though. Poor Dumbo!


  11. I haven't' seen this in years, mainly because I don't remember liking it all that much. My other issue, and this is a broader point, but I have a problem with works being edited to fit the sensibilities of the times. The original work should be left as if, and let the chips fall where they may. I'm not saying I don't have a problem with racist, sexist, or homophobic references in older works, because sometimes they just bug the crap out of me, but since they are part of the work, they should be left alone. The work needs to be considered a product of it's time, and if you are that bothered by it, don't watch or read it. Now I'll step off my soapbox.

  12. Great review of Dumbo, it's amazing how we loved them as kids but when we look back we're like oooh that's not a good message to portray! At least we still turned out well though ;)

  13. I haven't seen this movie in a long time too, in fact I haven't heard about it in long time! Perhaps people don't discuss it too much for the reasons you mentioned --- its a very sad movie! I didn't realize it was only 60 minutes long. Surely I can find that amount of time to re-watch this!

  14. This movie always made me sad as a kid...and, to be honest, a little bored. Omg, I feel so bad for admitting it! I don't think I "got" a lot of the underlying themes, though, and it was just so so so cruel how Dumbo was treated. And his mum locked up? Gosh. It's such a sad movie!!

  15. I still don't think I've seen this movie in it's entirety. I always get pissed at how mean everyone is to Dumbo and turn it off. lol

  16. Awww I remember this story! So adorable. I am constantly rooting for the underdogs because they are just so inspirational. Mothers are always amazing. Have you watched Wolf Children? The mom is so amazing and she goes through so much for her children it made me appreciate my mom so much even if sometimes we don't get along that well.

  17. I didn't care for Dumbo as a kid and it doesn't sound like it would be my cup of tea as adult! The cruelty for no reason is just upsetting. Not to long ago I was going through a friend's Disney movie collection and I was surprised how sad Disney movies really are (The Fox and the Hound anyone?). This was really interesting and I'd love to see a Roll-A-Book in person. Sounds fascinating!

  18. I myself don't plan on watching Dumbo again. Though I don't think the lessons in the films are bad in anyway, They are just tough to watch. I didn't notice the crow thing as a child either. The rolling book concept is very neat. That is one reason I am really enjoying Project Disney. I have learned so many things and so much trivia about the films and what they are based off of. Interesting. Plus I find it interesting that Disney doesn't have the original Dumbo... why wouldn't they keep something like that?

  19. I think everyone should see Dumbo. It is a true icon of Disney. I mean.. when you think of Disney.. you think of a flying elephant (at the parks at least).

  20. I was surprised to learn about Song of the South never being released for purchase or on video. Stephen King stopped allowing his novel Rage from being published since it talks about mass school shootings. That novel was written in the 70s way before there were school shootings. As for the Disney films .. I am not sure I agree with you totally. While I believe nothing should be censored it is hard when it comes to kid films. You would think a parent would just not allow their kids to watch till they are old enough to understand, or let them watch and explain that it how the world thought at the time. But I don't trust parents enough to do this. They let their kids watch whatever and never take the time to explain things. Not all parents.. but a lot of them.

  21. I do think that growing up in the type of house that I grew up in helped. My mom would sit down and tell me thinks. If I was confused by the crows she would've told me why they were animated the way they were and that we shouldn't think of others as a stereotype. I was really lucky that way.

  22. I was so surprised at the length of time of the film. It was really fast.. though I do think it was a perfect run time for this film. With the main character not even speaking there wasn't a lot to go off. But I will say the emotions of Dumbo on his little face made up for his lack of voice.

  23. This is a sad movie! Ten times more sad to me then Bambi. I think most people find this movie hard to watch as kids or adults. Whether you have made fun of someone or been made fun of.. watching this should bring out emotions in you. I suppose if you have a kid that's a bullying other kids this could be a good film for them to watch and see how it hurts others.

  24. It is tough to watch. As I was watching the film I wanted to stick up for Dumbo. Tell him it will be OK.. after all, you can fly. The hard thing though is that everyone who gets made fun of or bullied don't all have this special talent that may come out later. They might just end up being normal people.. but that's OK too. That lesson should also be here in this film.

  25. I haven't seen Wolf Children but will check it out. I find Dumbo's mom to be so special in this film. I don't have kids do I don't know what it feels like to be a mom. But my mom loves me NO MATTER what and sticks up for me. Dumbo's mom protected him the best she could.

  26. Well... the "reason" for the teasing was his ears. They are huge compared to other elephants. I do see this in real life. For me it was being skinny and no boobs. For others it's being fat, some big eye glasses. It really isn't right.. but that is kind of what makes this movie good though difficult to watch. There will be teasing and bullying in life. It is hard but that's a fact. I hope that kids who do watch it learn that teasing is mean and sad. There is no reason for it. I haven't done Fox and the Hound yet for Project Disney.. that one comes closer to the end. I haven't seen it for a long long time and now I am nervous about that one!!! No more sad movies Disney!!

  27. I have to admit I never liked Dumbo, just because it's so sad. And also because, as inspiring as it's trying to be, I never related to any of the characters enough to be invested in the story.

    And yet, I still enjoy reading your analysis of it like how he never talks but is still easy to empathize with :)

  28. I was surprised that Dumbo didn't speak. As a kid I don't remember noticing that. As an adult I totally noticed. But ... you pay attention more. What are Dumbo's expressions saying? In I think all of the comments here, no one likes the Dumbo movie. I find that very interesting. It is hard to watch. Just think there are kids out there who go through this type of treatment everyday. For being gay, dorky, ugly, whatever. Sad to me. I remember that's why I loved college. I had fun in high school, but in college all of a sudden there weren't as many cliques (unless you went to college in the same town as your high school). I just want kids to know life will change eventually.

  29. I think you're totally right, there are kids out there who go through those sorts of tough experiences. I even think we all do in one form and degree or another. So it's good to have a movie that shows that it doesn't last forever and people can find happiness. It's just so sad :(