Sunday, July 18, 2010

Dumbo Part 14

Dumbo is now part of the clown's act. There are interesting parallels between this sequence and what's gone before. The clown with the elephant head is shrieking "Save my baby," so Dumbo's situation is a parody of his mother attempting to protect him from kids on the midway earlier in the film. In this act, a clown whacks Dumbo's rear to get him moving as Timothy did to get him moving in the pyramid sequence. However, Timothy was attempting to launch Dumbo as a success, where the clown is forcing Dumbo to take a pratfall. Finally, Dumbo has a rattle clutched in his trunk where he earlier grasped a flag to crown the pyramid. The actions earlier in the film are replayed here as farce.

There's no getting around how lame the clowns are. None of the gags is particularly clever and I think that was a conscious decision on the part of the filmmakers. Had the clowns been genuinely entertaining, the audience would have been distracted from Dumbo's situation and his humiliation would not have been as great.

The draft says that the stuff Dumbo falls into is plaster. Ouch.

Les Clark handles most of the Dumbo close-ups. In some of them, Dumbo's irises are huge. Was that intentional or were the shots assisted by different artists?

Grant Simmons and (probably Ray) Patterson handle the clowns. All the animation has strong poses and good timing. The clown action is often furious, but it all reads clearly. In shots 15 and 19, Simmons does some interesting work with cycles. The design of the clowns' eyes make them closer to automatons than living creatures, as they are expressionless for the most part.

The music in this sequence needs to be mentioned. It's fast-paced and slightly discordant. It certainly communicates that the actions on screen are not to be taken seriously. There is no sound from the circus audience until the act ends, when there is applause and whistling. As bad as the act is, the film has to tell us that it is a success so that the clowns' future actions are motivated.

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