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Cartoons of the 1920s
Transcript of Cartoons of the 1920s
The Beginnings of Disney
English V Honors
19 September 2013
Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was Disneys first break as an animator. Not only is he the base design of the iconic Mickey Mouse, but Oswald is the foundation upon which Walt started his career. Without Oswald, there wouldn't be a Mickey Mouse.
Oswald the Lucky Rabbit
Trolley Troubles (1927)
After having the rights to Oswald taken by Charles Mintz in 1928, Disney created a newer version of Oswald; a mouse named Mickey. Mickey's first short "Plane Crazy" was first produced as a silent film in the summer of 1928 but wasn't widely released until it had a soundtrack later that year. Mickey was an instant hit, quickly passing by the new Mintz version of Oswald. "In fact, [the animated shorts] were regarded as "Art" as opposed to the less-respected products of Warner Bros. and MGM, which were considered "mere cartoons" (White 3)
Steamboat Willie (1928)
Although Steamboat Willie wasn't the first film to have sound, it was the first short to use it effectively. In 1927, "Jazz Singer", produced by Warner Bros, was released with sound and voice, a feat that had never been done before. "A long-sought miracle had arrived. Unfortunately, the camera ... was immobilized. Movies could
talk but could no longer move gracefully." (Shickel 1) The poor film quality made Jazz Singer very unpopular despite its innovations in the industry. Unlike Warner Bros. the animations of Disney were free to move and zoom around as they pleased as well as being scored and played with a soundtrack. This defining factor is what helped make Disney's work so popular in the 20s. Michael Barrier later praised Disney saying "Disney grasped sounds potential for involving his audience in what was happening on screen" (Barrier 56).
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Vitaphone Demo. 1926. Wikipedia. Web. JPEG file.
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How Disney Changed the World
Although it may not be so obvious now, Walt Disney was, and still is an icon for change and the pursuit of a better life. Besides his technical achievements in film, he has inspired America to always be dreaming; to find life and hope in every situation. Coining the term "A Disney Ending", his films always end in the best situation possible. Produced in the era of the Great Depression, these small fantasy stories helped give hope to Americans everywhere, for a magical happy ending to a destroyed world. The imaginative mind of Disney has inspired the invention of countless products and eventually Epcot, letting people truly believe in the American Dream and the magical rewards for hard work. Characters and stories of Disney films have become so iconic that nearly the entire world can recognize them and the moral values that they teach. Theme parks around the world provide a fantasy land for people of all ages to adventure in. Disney has showed the world that dreams really do come true, and it all started with a small black and white character named Mickey Mouse.
The Quest for Realism
Disney loved the modernism of animation and strived to make his cartoons as real as he could. He wanted the experience of watching his work to be like stepping into a different world, similar to ours, but different enough to be entertaining. Dave Kehr explained "A missing element—sound—had been added to animation, making the illusion of life that much more complete, that much more magical." (Kehr 1) While many others have criticized Disney of his pursuit for realism by saying that it takes away from the wacky animation that a true cartoon should have, "There was ... something more three dimensional about the mouse, something that we might—to use the phrasing of one contemporary commentator—even term “stereoscopic” (Scheffauer 79) because of the way Mickey enhanced and exploited the sense of depth in the filmed world." (Tellote 134)
The introduction of soundtracks to movies was the biggest innovation in film at the time. With new inventions such as the Vitaphone and Cinephone, scoring film was quickly becoming the biggest thing on the market. As simple as it seems to be now, without the great leaps in film technology, we would still be watching silent films. The vision of joining both picture and music together would eventually lead to the creation of VCR tapes and DVD's.
Combining Sound with Animation