A circus elephant is born with a handicap. With the love and support of his mother and some outcast friends, he overcomes his disabilities and the prejudices of others.
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It’s October of 1941 and Walt Disney is in trouble…probably for the last time. The experimental Fantasia and Pinocchio were quantum leaps in the art of animation, but had charmed neither critics nor audiences like Snow White, Disney’s first animated feature. With a worried investors, smaller budget, and looming animators strike – things looked uncertain for Disney’s latest film. At a length of just over an hour Disney’s, little movie that could, mesmerized audiences and became the most accessible film of their formative years.
The secret of the film’s success is simple: Our differences may make us outsiders, but it’s our differences that make us special and unique. Dumbo’s “handicap” was an object of ridicule but it’s the love of his mother, and the friendship of fellow outcast - Timothy J. Mouse - that help him realize just how special he is. This film has a beautiful ideology that is expressed poetically without being preachy – a rare feat for a film of the 40’s especially a children’s film. The soul of the film is so genuine and innocent – it’s hard to believe it was made by grown men and women – it feels as if it leaped out of the overactive imagination of a five year old.
Not even two months after the film was released, the U.S. fleet was severely crippled by a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, thrusting the depression worn America into the Second World War. Attendance continued to stay healthy for Dumbo despite the hard times for America becoming all the more difficult. There was a lot to be sad about in those days, but if you could scrape together 33 cents, for an hour, you could escape into a world of pink elephants, talking mice, and pure magic.