This is the original Three Little Pigs Silly Symphony; its duration is 8:23. It features the Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf, as well as the famous song "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" According to a few sources, the heavily Jewish image and accent of the Wolf knocking on the brick house's door was removed for the DVD release, but it seems that this revised voice was applied to the YouTube video, even though the visual was not adjusted.
Having easy, unlimited access to the film which is the subject of my research is essential, not only for being able to form a thesis but for being able to interpret and synthesize the various resources I'll find on the subject. I can draw direct evidence as to the narrative structure, characterization, and use of color, music, and sound, and hear the song "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" whenever I please.
This journal article deals mainly with the series of films entitled Shakespeare: The Animated Tales, and aims to address the cliche that when portions of the plays are removed in order to make the films, the works are simplified or "dumbed down" to the point where the quality is almost completely sacrificed. It suggests that a better way to analyze the films is to examine them as films, and not as literature, and therefore acknowledge the omissions but still treat the work as a whole. In addition, this reading sees these cuts as necessary to enhance the cinematographic needs of the medium, and the choice of animation brings these valuable and culturally significant stories to a new generation.
The article goes on to cite Walter Benjamin and Sergei Eisenstein's early writings that see animation as significant and important, and claim that it serves as the experimentation necessary for the progress of cinema as a whole. A primary example of Disney's experimentation with anti-realism, according to the article, is the "Silly Symphonies" series of short animated films. The author sees experimentation in various aspects of the film, including "self-reflexivity, technical innovativeness, violation of natural spatial-temporal rules, and violence," and cites other writings which claim that part of the influence of the films lay in their ambiguous target audiences. The films were "not just children's stuff, and certainly not sugar-sweet. Whether they were for adults or children was indeterminate." It was the animated feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs that ended this era of experimentation for Disney, and proved that cartoons could be respectable, even "antiseptic." While Warner Brothers continued to be edgy, Disney was now mainstream and accepted by the Production Code.
This article helps me prove the foundation of my thesis, that the Silly Symphonies began as experimental works that allowed Disney and its animators to try new technologies and new forms. It also helps me show that this experimentation led directly to the development of elements, like narrative, character differentiation, and others, whose perfection made the production of an animated feature-length film possible.
This article focuses on the animated depictions of the First World War, and examines the changes in these depictions of the conflict with time. Before America joined, the cartoons showed the conflict as a setting for adventure and larger-than-life characters. After the US joined, cartoons attempted to present sanitized views of the war, often going without references to actual events at all, or instead acted as documentaries aimed at adult audiences. It was after the war, however, when animation provided the perfect medium for "recasting" the events of the war in imaginative ways which stretched reality. These changes from a real to fantastical and magical view of the world are what fueled the view, and eventual marketing, of cartoons as entertainment specifically for children.
Many of Warner Brothers' series launched around the time of the Silly Symphonies, possibly to compete with the series' success, were among the realistic depictions of the war. They included Felix Turns the Tide and Bosko the Doughboy. In the former, grim battle scenes and relatively graphic imagery conveyed the "damage, confusion, and carnage" of the conflict. In the latter, while Bosko has a relatively elastic body, this fantasy element cannot save him from injury, as compared to other, earlier cartoons that show war as "consequence-free.
This article could be useful in my thesis in supporting the view of the Silly Symphonies as moral, simple, and dream-like, as compared to the brashness of Warner Brothers animated shorts where the humor lay in obviousness and reality. It also provides extensive fuel for comparison of the Disney works of the time to those of Warner Brothers and other studios, and puts all of these films in the context of wartime media, examining the differing morals and tones with which these underlying messages were presented.
This article is a review and discussion of four newly released double-disc sets in the “Walt Disney Treasures” series. The discs contain Silly Symphonies, and the author discusses how Disney used technology to gain a competitive edge over the Fleischers. Disney took more care in music and sound editing and synching, using a technique which enabled animators to listen to already-recorded music and effects and animate in synch with these soundtracks, while the Fleischers’ sound seems more like improvisation. And Disney signed an exclusive contract, giving him the only rights to use a new three-color Technicolor process that gave his films a “visual pop” unlike any others available.
This article discusses the technical care and expertise put into Disney short films. The article argues that the color, shading, draftsmanship, depth techniques, and expressivity of movement eventually used in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs were first used in Silly Symphonies like The Goddess of Spring and Three Blind Mouseketeers. The author also discusses the differences between Walt Disney’s television persona and behind-the scenes “persistent dissatisfaction,” claiming that whichever one considers, Disney’s efforts edged the country towards “greater technological feats.”
This article, while it does not mention Three Little Pigs explicitly, helps fill in some information about how Disney managed to employ technology to his favor, and the details of some of that technology, especially color and sound. It also shows how the Silly Symphonies served in some cases as proving grounds for new techniques that eventually emerged in full-length animated features, and echoes an often-expressed belief in Walt Disney’s quest for perfection through bigger and better technology.
This newspaper article commends Disney for not continuing in the direction of Steamboat Willie, but instead “fleshing out” individual characters., giving them “soul” and “color.” The author cites Three Little Pigs as a major turning point for Disney, especially in that it was the first Disney film to have a real plot. The relation of each pig to his house and its construction differentiates and enriches each character. The article includes a quote from Chuck Jones on the subject of Three Little Pigs which comments on character differentiation, saying that in the past, different characters looked different, but in this film, similar-looking characters were differentiated using elements other than visuals alone. The quote also clearly states Jones’ belief that Three Little Pigs was a turning point.
The article mentions music, color, and style as contributing to the success of the film, and states that these factors and the short’s popularity led Disney to another plane. His animated work was, as a direct result of this film, treated seriously, as art, and this can possibly be seen as the beginning of the “Disney empire.” The production of subsequent films, shorts and features, served to codify the Disney style, epitomized by the first Disney feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
This article provides a primary source: animator Chuck Jones states that Three Little Pigs was a turning point. Also helpful is the discussion of why the short was so important, with a focus on characterization and plot. An interesting view expressed here but not elsewhere is that not only did Three Little Pigs serve as an internal bridge from experimental to feature-length fairy tale, but it also launched Disney’s fame externally in the eyes of critics and film journals, and in this way contributed to Disney’s future dominance.
In Chapter 1, entitled “Popular Culture,” the author addresses Disney’s populist tendencies, providing examples of Disney’s desire to bring high art to the people and provide messages of reassurance. While looking later in the timeline at works like Fantasia, he mentions the Silly Symphonies as originally being meant to illustrate both classical and jazz music, including the fact that the animators and writers were encouraged to experiment with the medium, aided by the absence of constraints like recurring characters. In addition, Three Little Pigs is cited as a prime example of Disney’s inclusion of his beliefs in battling urban industrialism with the ideals of agrarian and rural values. Looking deeper, the message of this short is seen as a reference to biblical tales like David and Goliath, and is seen as a possible mobilizing force in American society that may have catalyzed demands for solutions to the Depression such as the New Deal.
This source is interesting because it provides direct evidence for what other articles and writings, and my own viewings of Three Little Pigs and other Silly Symphonies, have only suggested: that the animated series began as a field for experimentation and discovery on the part of Disney Studios. It also provides slightly different readings of the moral undertones of the film, claiming that it might have been not only individually inspiring but may have contributed to or more directly affected societal change.
This website provides an index, in chronological order of release, of what looks like all of the Silly Symphonies shorts ever produced. Each entry includes the characters featured, the names of the director, producer, animator, and author, the run time of the short, the release date, and, for many, links to watch the original cartoons. Many also have summaries and information about the cartoon's production, often including original film posters and other pertinent images.
This resource would be key for watching each of the Silly Symphonies, especially Three Little Pigs but also those before and after it. Watching the films in order also helps develop a sense of the trends in style and other aspects, such as use of color, sound, animation quality, and narrative and cahracter development. With reference to Three Little Pigs, the site includes key information such as the fact that the film won the Academy Award for Best Short Subject in 1934, was animated by Fred Moore, Norm Ferguson, Art Babbitt, Dick Lundy, and Norman King, and was released on May 27, 1933.
This is a blog entry, but it seems to be of high enough quality for use. Its thesis is that the Republican reading of hard times in Three Little Pigs, both the Depression of the 1930s and even today's housing crisis, is "undercut by various elements of subversion." Characterization helps to differentiate between the lazy pigs and the responsible pig, and these personas are echoed not only in the pigs' actions but the objects they use to decorate their houses. But the author argues that the lazy pigs are so likeable that the message is somewhat obscured, and hypothesizes that much of the Wolf's animosity and the pigs' fear may resemble the corporate structure and relationship between Walt Disney and animators. The primitive use of color contributes to the dream-like quality of Disney, a "surreal," sometimes uncanny vibe which contrasts sharply with how Warner Brothers cartoons, especially today, appear "secular, straightforward, unpretentious, urban, and ethnic.”
This resource would be helpful for showing the effective use of characterization. Its specificity in mentioning how characters are differentiated, through their actions, attitudes, and possessions as well as through color, would be useful. A new look at the short film’s allegorical power, namely, its relevance in today's US economy, is also interesting, as is its comparison of the dreaminess of Disney as compared to the reality of Warner Brothers animated shorts.