Friday, December 08, 2006

Walt Disney's Silly Symphonies

Beginning in the 1930s, feature films were often preceded by obligatory cartoon shorts, showcasing a rapidly-developing film technique. While working on the development of Mickey Mouse shorts, Disney also experimented with an ambitious, innovative series of animations with ground-breaking features called Silly Symphonies - a series of 75 shorts that lasted until 1939, and won a total of seven Academy Awards.

The first of Disney's Silly Symphonies was The Skeleton Dance (1929), released on August 22, 1929, a night-time graveyard dance of skeletons. Other Silly Symphonies cartoons followed in the same year:

  • El Terrible Toreador, September 7, 1929
  • Springtime, October 24, 1929
  • Hell's Bells, October 30, 1929
  • The Merry Dwarfs, December 16, 1929

The first animation in full three-color Technicolor was the 29th of Disney's short Silly Symphonies: Flowers and Trees (1932) with anthropomorphic characters - it produced Disney's first Academy Award, the first of Walt's 32 personal Academy Awards. The popular, influential Depression-Era fable The Three Little Pigs (1933) was released in 1933 with its optimistic hit theme song: "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" (based upon the tune of Happy Birthday). Innovations continued to be created in the short creative animations, The Band Concert (1935), Music Land (1935) and The Old Mill (1937) - the latter being the first to use the multi-plane camera to provide an illusion of depth. The following list summarizes all of Disney's 'Oscar'-winning Silly Symphonies:

  1. Flowers and Trees (1931/2)
  2. The Three Little Pigs (1932/3)
  3. The Tortoise and the Hare (1934)
  4. Three Orphan Kittens (1935)
  5. The Country Cousin (1936)
  6. The Old Mill (1937)
  7. The Ugly Duckling (1939)

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