26 October 2000 | Ron Oliver
Disney Animates Mr. Claus, Part Two
'Twas THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS, and Santa arrives at a home with nine little children. Quickly he sets up a Christmas tree and takes a few moments to enjoy the toys' tiny celebration upon the placing of the star. But now the noise has awakened the children...
This follow-up to SANTA'S WORKSHOP (1932) is a very enjoyable cartoon. As in its predecessor, the March of the Toys is both colorful & fun to watch - although the playthings coming out of the bag are completely different from those we previously saw marching into it. (Notice the Mickey Mouse toy which Disney cannily included.) Query: do bad little kiddies live in all the many houses which Santa flies past & ignores?
The SILLY SYMPHONIES, which Walt Disney produced for a ten year period beginning in 1929, are among the most fascinating of all animated series. 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.