28 Days of Disney Animation: ‘Dumbo’ is fun and fancy free

Dumbo

Written by Otto Englander, Joe Grant, and Dick Huemer

Directed by Ben Sharpsteen

USA, 1941

Walt Disney Animation Studios’ catalogue began with an artistic bang when Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Pinocchio were released to audiences. While not the commercial successes the studio fantasized about, both demonstrated the sharp if simple storytelling and, arguably more impressive, a quality of animation that seemed unparalleled at the time. The issue, alas, was the lack of monetary success (especially with the company’s other 1940 release, Fantasia), a result that discouraged Walt Disney from swinging for the fences with his next outing, Dumbo. As far as the script is concerned, Dumbo performs some extraordinarily unorthodox circus acts to tell what is an extremely simple story, which compensates for the lower quality of the visuals, even though the latter is not quite as bad as it seems upon first glance.

The story begins in Florida,
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