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.