Dumbo | Ben Sharpsteen, 1941
In the making of featurette that included on the Blu-ray of Dumbo, it is remarked many times that this was the movie that saved Disney after high-budget movies like Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Bambi did not initially do well at the box office. The reason was that the animators were given a lower budget, yet they could not sacrifice the quality of the story. And for those reasons, the money it made and the back-to-basics approach to storytelling, Dumbo is now recognized as one of Disney’s top classics. Now, I don’t think it is as great a movie as The Lion King, Beauty & The Beast, The Little Mermaid, or even The Princess and the Frog. Yet, it is one of the most emotional movies I’ve ever seen, and one of those few movies that leave me feeling all warm and fuzzy when it is over.
Dumbo, in case you didn’t know is the story of a young elephant with huge ears that works for a circus. His mother obviously loves him, but the other elephants see him as a disgrace to their kind. One day, when some obnoxious youths tease him about his ears, his mom lashes out at them, which makes the people that manage the circus lock her up. So, now Dumbo, with his friend Timothy the mouse must find a way to impress the ringmaster so that they will release his mom. But things aren’t as easy as they expect.
While the story is one of the most powerful that Disney has ever told, the reason why I don’t consider it as great as some of the other classes is because it just isn’t up to the standards that the company had set for its self before the release of the movie. Sure, there are reasons for that, and a lower budget did not mean that the animators did a half-assed job. It’s just that it just feels cheaper.
With that said, that did not affect my overall enjoyment of the movie at all. First off, Dumbo is like the cutest thing ever. Second, it is so emotional. From the moment that Jumbo opens the package from the stork, you can see the affection she feels towards her son, and how she is willing to even shut off her own kind to protect her son. Then there is the intense sequence when she loses control, and of course the great scene where Dumbo visits her in the cage. The animators did a fantastic job in conveying these emotions. And the music that plays during the last scene I mentioned is pure perfection. And in the end, when everything turns out for the best for our beloved hero, I could not help but feel happy.
While to a great movie I can see why Dumbo is considered a classic. It is endearing, has great animation, considering the budget, and it just makes me happy. I recommend buying it on Blu-ray if it is available where you live. I live in the U.S. and had to import it from Mexico because it never got announced for release here in the U.S. so that is always an option. My point is that is that if you are going to revisit or watch this movie for the first time, Blu-ray is the best way to experience it as the transfer is beautiful. I love this movie.