Monday, March 24, 2008

The History of Animation 13 - Walt Disney: Laugh-o-gram, The Four Musicians of Breman (1922)

"An early but fun Laugh-o-Gram short based on a forgotten fairy tale."

This was Walt Disney's first character-driven cartoon.

The original story is mostly these animals meeting up to go sing for humans and get rich and famous. The original fairy tale was called "The Breman Town Musicians." It is a fairy tale recorded by the Brothers Grimm.

More about the fairy tale:

Although the Muppets did a version, and Zelda: Majora's Mask pays homage to it, Disney never revisited the story.

This statue made in 1953 depicts the four musicians and is in Breman, Germany:

Disney extends the story by starting where it left off, with the towns people throwing bricks and making the animals leave. Interestingly, he sets these fairy tales in present time. I think he thought it would add to their appeal.

More about this short:

It was animated by Walt Disney and Rudolph Ising. It was released on August 1, 1922.

Then the next part is where the animals are hungry, so they devise a way to catch fish with their music. The cat character is important, as Felix the Cat was very popular at this time. Disney will also drive his future Alice Comedies series with another cat, Julius.

The cat runs into a swordfish. Notice how the swordfish cuts a fish in half to test the sword? The Disney cartoons started off with a little more violence than we would see in cartoons today. This is just one example.

They end up in a house full of men that fight back. The men fight back using canons. This is similar to an Oswald short that Disney did about 6 years later.

The cat takes his tail off to use as a weapon. This idea of taking off body parts was common with Felix cartoons (and later Oswald and Mickey did similar things).


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