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5 Dumbo

Page history last edited by Alyssa Nelson 14 years ago

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     The Disney movie Dumbo was made in 1941 and produced by Walt Disney himself. It was the fourth film in the Disney animated features cannon and based on a children's book written by Helen Aberson. It was originally designed as an economical feature to help generate income after the financial failures of both Pinocchio and Fantasia in 1940. Despite being made in the 1940s during World War II, it was still the most successful Disney movie in the 40s.




     Dumbo is set in a travelling circus, when Mrs. Jumbo, the elephant, reveives her baby, Jumbo Jr., from the stork. Jumbo Jr. has extremely large ears and is abused and ridiculed by the other elephants and given the nickname "Dumbo." A couple kids come over to the elephants and start teasing Dumbo because of his large ears which causes Mrs. Jumbo to act out against the kids whichs gets her locked up and deemed a mad elephant. Dumbo is left with no friends until he meets Timothy Q. Mouse who gets the ring master to come up with a plan with Dumbo as the star. Dumbo ends up ruining this pyramid stunt and injures many of the elephants. Because of this, he is made a clown. To cheer him up, Timothy Mouse takes Dumbo to see his mother, and on the way back they accidently drink a bucket of water that has been spiked with a bottle of champagne. After a crazy dream about pink elephants, they wake up in a tree and meet the black crows. The all come to the conclusion that Dumbo flew them up there with his big ears. With the help of the crows, they get Dumbo to fly with the confidence of a "magic feather." During a stunt he loses the feather and realizes at the last second that iwas never actually magical. He pulls out of the dive he was making and flies around the circus, Because of this stunt, he becomes a media sensation, Timothy Mouse becomes his manager, and Dumbo and his mother are given their own private car on the circus train.


Racism found in the movie:


     At the beginning of the movie, there is a scene where the circus is being set up. In this scene not only are the animals helping with the work, but also faceless black men are seen setting up. Their faces are completely featureless with no eyes, mouth, or nose. they possess no individual identities at all. This is characteristic of the time period because the 1940s was before the Civil Rights Movement, and although there was no slavery, blacks were still segregated and considered as lesser people at the time.

     Then of course there are the crows. All of which are black. Their leader is named Jim Crow.  They are wearing patched clothing and are represented generally as intellectually inferior. They also use slang words and ebonics such as calling eachother "brotha" and speaking in southern accents with mutilated grammar. They meet when Dumbo and Timothy are up in the tree. Timothy sees them and not realizing yet that they aren't on the ground asks them what they are doing "down here" meaning on the ground, and they respond with "why are you up here?" This represents blacks are segregated from everyone else and are questioned when they are seen somewhere where they don't necessarily "belong." Everyone has their own place in life and they are expected to stay there.

     The crows being mocking Dumbo becasue Timothy decides that they flew up to the tree. They sing the song "When I See an Elephant Fly." This song is in jazz style completely with scatting and one of the crows playing the jazz trumpet on his beak. This style of music was generally popular at the time in black communities. Timothy hears their mocking and begins preaching a sermon to them telling them that basically they aren't good enough to mock him and that they should be ashamed of themselves and they are moved to tears with remorse for this and are guilted into helping Dumbo learn how to fly.

     Another example in the movie that could be seen as racist is the fact that Dumbo is different from everyone else, therefore he is ridiculed for it. Just becasue his ears are bigger than a normal elephant's, he is ostracized from the rest of the group. He only has one friend Timothy Mouse who is also socially ostracized becasue elephants are generally scared of mice. This could be seen as a form of racism becasue it is ostracizing someone becasue of their differences.

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