Silly Symphony #29: Flowers and Trees (Burt Gillett, 1932)

Mickey Mouse Presents… A Walt Disney Silly Symphony…
Introduction
In 1930, two huge losses hit the Walt Disney studio – notably Carl Stalling and Ub Iwerks left the studio to work for Warner Bros and set-up their own studio respectively. Famously, Iwerks animated Mickey Mouse himself in Steamboat Willie whilst Stalling, as we know, is credited with the creation of the Silly Symphonies in the first place. The beginning of sound is what made Disney become incredibly successful when Mickey Mouse arrived. The use of music and, crucially, the perfect timing it had alongside dancing animated-characters and musical instruments – be it skulls or rib cages – is what further catapulted the Walt Disney brand further. Two major brands in Mickey Mouse and the Silly Symphonies ensured Disney’s continued success. Despite the loss of Iwerks and Stalling, Disney began hiring animators from New York and composers who had worked in the orchestra-pits during the silent-days … and, looking to the future, Walt Disney gained exclusive-rights for two-years for the use of a three-colour process, via a company called Technicolour, in animation. Now Disney had sound and colour and the first film to use this? Flowers and Trees in 1932.
Nature Finds A Way
The film won an Academy Award for Animated Short Subject and, personally, shows the depth of imagination available. You see how such a wide variety of plants are anthropomorphised and how the characters are much much fleshed out – specifically the ‘evil’ tree with the creature inside his mouth and the small belly-button hole which forces him to laugh mid-fight. A really great example as to how the cartoons were developing further. Uncredited director Burt Gillett, also directed Three Little Pigs and Babes in the Woods, whilst among the animators were David Hand and Les Clark, both of which, worked o Snow White and the Seven Dwarves five years later…

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5 comments

  1. The thing about the Silly Symphonies is that they are incredibly sweet, and at the same time quite boring.
    But as boring isn't necessarily a negative description for me, I do like watching these. Just not too often.

    I think it's wonderful that you write about short films too – there was a time when I watched a lot of them, and it's still a great experience. You can watch them just in between something and still, they manage to provoke your thoughts in just a few minutes.

  2. It is good to swee some people writing about these cartoons. This one definitely shows the vivi imgination of animators in the early days and even now,the film is wonderful to watch. Animation such as this is timeless.

  3. @Mette – I think that I love these shorts because of how important they were at the time. These were ground-breaking works of art: the first fully-animated colour short … the very-first appearance of Mickey … BRILLIANT!

    @FilmMaster – Yeah, and the animators at the time were very slowly establishing what their niche was. Some great characterisation too!

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