Monday, January 20, 2014


 RELEASE DATE: Thursday 22nd August 1929

SYNOPSIS: When all is dark in the graveyard, skeletons rise from their graves and dance the night away! This cartoon is most notable for being the very first in the "Silly Symphonies" series. All up, there were 75 Silly Symphony cartoons made between 1929 and 1939. They were often used to try out new ideas and experiment with music, colour and animation techniques.

HAKU: This one just felt like a "demo." It seemed more primitive than the Mickey Mouse cartoons we just watched. Obviously there's a lot less characterisation, but I felt like it lacked a bit of purpose.
IRVYNE: That was the point of the Silly Symphonies though. They weren't there to promote a particular protagonist or story, they were more about explorations of sound and visuals; a precursor to Fantasia, if you will.
I could be wrong, but I have a feeling that would have been trickier to animate than the Mickey cartoons. Ub Iwerks, or whoever did the animation, would have to know the skeleton anatomy pretty well, and how it would look if it turned at different angles. Granted, they are cartoony-looking skeletons. But whereas Mickey could have his entire mid-section yanked away by Pete and then shove it right back into his pants, these skeletons move around like real skeletons. That's not to say there aren't creative ways they move though!

HAKU: I suppose the problem with viewing a movie like this today, is that we've seen lots of other experiments in animation since this one, and we've seen this kind of thing done better. With the Mickey cartoons, at least there was still a story to follow. Even though this film has its place in history, it's pretty archaic now.

IRVYNE: I wonder if it was considered scary in its time! Were children running from the cinemas? I think people were easier to scare back then. You've heard the stories of how people would scream and hide when they first saw a train coming towards them on a cinema screen.

HAKU: And in this, they've used all the "scary" stereotypes: the black cat, the spiders, the skeletons, the bats in the belfry.

IRVYNE: One thing I find hilarious (and kind of adorable) about these old cartoons, knowing that the music is the heart of the cartoon, is that these characters are always bopping! Even when they're not doing anything, they're just bopping along to the music.

HAKU: Well that's one of the rules of animation. Your characters should never be completely still. Because then they look dead... Although in the case of this cartoon, that would have been pretty appropriate!

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