Dumbo is a 1941 American animated musical film produced by Walt Disney and originally released by RKO Radio Pictures.
Dumbo was released on October 23, 1941; made to recoup the financial losses of Fantasia, it was a deliberate pursuit of simplicity and economy for the Disney studio. At 64 minutes, it is one of Disney's shortest animated features. Sound was recorded conventionally using the RCA System. One voice was synthesized using the Sonovox system, but it, too, was recorded using the RCA System.
A flock of storks delivers babies while circus animals are being transported by train from their "Winter Quarters". Mrs. Jumbo, one of the elephants, receives her baby, who is soon made fun of by the other elephants because of his large ears, and they nickname him "Dumbo". After locking the elephants, Mrs. Jumbo starts to cuddle Dumbo.
When a storm comes, the elephants have to help set up the circus tents. Afterwards, they have a parade through town. However, Dumbo ends up in a muddy puddle, so Mrs. Jumbo has to wash him. When a group of boys torment Dumbo, Mrs. Jumbo responds by attacking one of the boys and, losing her temper in the confusion. Mrs. Jumbo is deemed mad and tossed into a cage. Dumbo is shunned by the other elephants, and with no parent to care for him, he is now alone. Timothy Q. Mouse, who feels sympathy for Dumbo and becomes determined to help regain his spirits, appoints himself as Dumbo's mentor and protector.
After being secretly encouraged by Timothy, the circus director makes Dumbo the top of an elephant pyramid stunt. The performance goes awry as Dumbo trips over his ears and misses his target, causing the other elephants to suffer various injuries, and bring down the big top. Dumbo is made into a clown as a result, officially having the other elephants deem him no longer one of them, and plays the main role in an act that involves him falling into a vat of pie filling. Despite his newfound popularity and fame, Dumbo dislikes this job, and is now more miserable than ever.
To cheer Dumbo up, Timothy takes him to visit his mother; on the way back, Dumbo cries and then starts to hiccup, so Timothy takes him for a drink of water from a bucket which, unknown to them, has accidentally had a bottle of champagne knocked into it by the clowns. As a result, Dumbo and Timothy both become drunk, and see hallucinations of pink elephants.
The next morning, Dumbo and Timothy wake up in a tree, but soon fall into a lake; Timothy wonders how they got up in the tree, and concludes that Dumbo flew up there using his large ears as wings. With the help from a group of crows, Timothy is able to get Dumbo to fly again, using a psychological trick of a "magic feather" to boost his confidence.
Back at the circus, Dumbo performs the same stunt, which involves jumping from a high building. On the way down, Dumbo loses the feather; Timothy quickly tells him that the feather was never magical, and that he is still able to fly. Dumbo is able to pull out of the dive and flies around the circus, finally striking back at his tormentors as a stunned audience looks on in amazement. After this performance, Dumbo becomes a media sensation, Timothy becomes his manager, and Dumbo and Mrs. Jumbo are given a private car on the circus train.
Why It Rocks
- Beautiful songs.
- Plenty of funny moments.
- Many emotional moments. The "Baby Mine" scene is one of the most emotional scenes in Disney's history.
- Beautiful message on how what makes you different also makes you special.
- Great voice acting.
- Dumbo himself does not talk. He expresses all his emotions through his facial expressions and the animation on him is wonderful.
- Timothy Q. Mouse is a great father surrogate for Dumbo.
- The crows are great characters.
- The "Pink Elephants on Parade" scene, which is both a cool song and an amazing piece of animation.
- The film has no legitimate villains. Most of them are either bullies or are somewhat understandable in their behavior like the Ringmaster.
- The animation is cheaper compared to most Disney movies and there are a few mistakes. This is because a massive animators' strike took place in the middle of production, forcing them to rush the animation after the strike had ended in order to make the release date.
- Racist stereotypes, including the crows (although great characters and not as offensive as other films from the era like Song of the South) and "Song of the Roundabouts" (the workers are all black and there are some racist lyrics).
- The "Pink Elephants on Parade" scene, while cool, is also kind of pointless since it serves no point to the plot. It can also be scary to younger audiences.
- Dumbo and Timothy accidentally get drunk at one point. Keep in mind that Dumbo is supposed to be a baby.
- The female elephants and the clowns are jerks.
- This is the final Disney film before the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, and thus the final Disney film made before America joined in the Second World War, the same year after the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service have attacked Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii. Hawaii wasn't a state in the US in the time, however. It wasn't until 1959, a decade later after the war ended.