2 September 2000 | Ron Oliver
Walt Disney Animation Goes Under The Sea
A Walt Disney SILLY SYMPHONY Cartoon Short.
Huge KING NEPTUNE, Ruler of the Sea, is frolicking with his lissome little mermaids. The arrival of a scurvy band of pirates, and their lustful attack upon the mermaids, begins a terrific battle, in which the ocean creatures join in. Finally, the sea god emerges from the waves & wrecks watery vengeance upon the corsairs.
There's plenty of action in this exceedingly, one might almost say excessively, violent cartoon. The state of the mermaids' dishabille shows that this is a pre-Production Code film.
The SILLY SYMPHONIES, which Walt Disney produced for a ten year period beginning in 1929, are among the most interesting of series in the field of animation. Unlike the Mickey Mouse cartoons in which action was paramount, with the Symphonies the action was made to fit the music. There was little plot in the early Symphonies, which featured lively inanimate objects and anthropomorphic plants & animals, all moving frantically to the soundtrack. Gradually, however, the Symphonies became the school where Walt's animators learned to work with color and began to experiment with plot, characterization & photographic special effects. The pages of Fable & Fairy Tale, Myth & Mother Goose were all mined to provide story lines and even Hollywood's musicals & celebrities were effectively spoofed. It was from this rich soil that Disney's feature-length animation was to spring. In 1939, with SNOW WHITE successfully behind him and PINOCCHIO & FANTASIA on the near horizon, Walt phased out the SILLY SYMPHONIES; they had run their course & served their purpose.