21 October 2000 | Ron Oliver
Disney Visits The Water Babies
A Walt Disney SILLY SYMPHONY Cartoon Short.
The WATER BABIES emerge from their flowery beds to spend another day frolicking with the pond creatures or romping in the forest.
There's virtually no plot in this little cartoon, but its action/reaction animation is pleasant enough. Aside from the title, there's no connection with Charles Kingsley's classic book.The babies are all naked (and apparently sexless), thus giving the Disney artists much scope for their favorite bare bottom gags. MERBABIES (1938), a forthcoming Symphony, would bare a striking resemblance to this film.
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.