Sunday, February 9, 2014


RELEASE DATE: Friday 7th April 1939

SYNOPSIS: Based on Hans Christian Andersen's classic tale, this cartoon features a family of ducks eagerly awaiting the hatching of the eggs. The only problem is, the last egg to hatch has a very odd-looking duck inside! In a fury, the father leaves. The mother and her chicks refuse to accept the ugly duckling into their family, and it must go out and find a family that will love and accept it.
This Academy Award winning cartoon was the 75th and very last Silly Symphony ever created.

IRVYNE: Boy, the world can be cruel!... Even the Disney World!

WENDY: He wasn't ugly at all!

IRVYNE: He was just an adorable little swan... cygnet I mean! This cartoon is actually significant for another reason, besides being the final Silly Symphony. It was actually a remake, the first and only time it happened. There was a very early Silly Symphony in 1931 called The Ugly Duckling, although it was quite a different story, not following Andersen's tale at all. It had a duckling being born in a farmyard chicken house. The newer version is more faithful to the original plot.

So in the 1939 version, we start off with the cute expectant ducky parents, and when the father sees the ugly duckling he and the mother have a big domestic, and they get a divorce and she gets custody of the kids! Quite grown-up for a Disney cartoon!

WENDY: But the little cygnet is so cute! He just wants to be loved.

IRVYNE: Then after he gets kicked out of his own family and he finds the big toy duck that won't judge him on his appearance, it knocks him out! It's such a sad story!

WENDY: It ends happily when he finds his real family.

IRVYNE: I hope the poor little thing isn't scarred for life!
I wonder what it was that made them decide to halt production on the Silly Symphonies. I'm guessing the Mickey and Donald cartoons were much more popular, so they decided to keep going with them. It was a difficult time for the company. They were on the brink of World War II, they were just coming out the Great Depression... I don't think anyone knew what was going to happen to the animation industry, Walt included.
So The Ugly Duckling is a fitting sombre finale to the Silly Symphonies. It's a gorgeously animated cartoon, it's just kind of heartbreaking.

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