Dumbo's airing again this week, none too soon for me. Classic Disney cartoon movies have a tendency to become a wonderful sequence of set pieces, each lovely, but so loosely plotted that one could chop up the movies (as was done, to make shorts) and reassemble them in nearly any order. Consider Alice in Wonderland or Peter Pan, in which the sequence of sketches doesn't matter. Sometimes they grind to a halt; Snow White And The Seven Dwarves is marvelous, but it's all padding with a random jolt an hour in. Modern Disney cartoon movies tend to overplot; Lilo and Stitch for example is a wonderful movie, but it is packed tight. (It's packed to the point of distraction: I keep thinking Cobra Bubbles' assignment as social worker has to be wild good luck, but the movie's otherwise tightly written enough I think it's not supposed to be chance.) Dumbo hits that wonderful sweet spot of being a string of lovely little sketches that still follow in one sensible order, and which don't need any pushing to get through the story.
Pocahontas and Hunchback of Notre Dame also ran recently, and I think I'm getting a better idea of why they ultimately fall apart. Bigotry and racism are essential parts of the plots they try to develop, and the writers don't sympathize with the characters' feelings. The characters sound like ordinary everyday mid-90s people who once a scene drop out of character to talk about savages. So what should be a climactic battle between strong personalities washes out because the characters don't have the conviction of their roles. (Note how much stronger and more interesting Judge Frollo is when he's obsessed with sex than with the other aspects of gypsy life.) And I'm left wondering why the Pocahontas animators couldn't just pick one incorrect flag for the English and stick with that. And show more Meeko.
Trivia: United States Vice-President Garret Augustus Hobart (1844-1899) was known to his friends as ``Gus''. Source: Jerseyana: The Underside of New Jersey History, Marc Mappen.
Currently Reading: Under the Black Flag: Expoits of the Most Notorious Pirates, Don C. Seitz.