The animated short Three Little Pigs is the focus of this paper; the author claims that this short was significant first for epitomizing the quality of Disney films in the 1930s, whose popularity can't be conceived of today. In addition, the author sees the film as crucial in character animation, paving the way for the enduring characters of the next decade. The narrative, indirectly, and the commercial success, more directly, enabled Disney's first feature-length animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
The article also discusses the technical achievements of the film, such as the difficulty in animating such similar characters and the effective use of color. The latter innovation, color, was used most effectively by including subtle tone changes with purpose, such as to reinforce the exhaustion of the wolf after trying to blow down the brick house by changing the colors of his face. Finally, sound was key to the film's success and influence. Written to illustrate a song that became a hit, "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?", the music helps differentiate characters. The character development was further aided by focusing on four characters, instead of the huge undifferentiated masses often featured in earlier Silly Symphonies.
Finally, the article addresses the metaphor of the story as two-pronged. The popularity of the film suggests the dormant, hopeful message that hard work alone will allow men to prevail even in times of doubt; this was an appealing message in the Depression. Second, audiences saw Walt Disney as a role model. It's possible that simple plots, like that of this short, helped Disney films maintain popularity over competing Warner Brothers series which today seem more appealing.
This article is key to my argument; it helps provide evidence that Three Little Pigs paved the way for Snow White and the future Disney style of creating feature-length films with the same character development, simple plots and positive, moral underlying messages that appealed to audiences.
The author discusses and forms theories as to the rules of fairy tale adaptation at Disney, especially related to the role of the child and the view of adolescents or adults, in a few of the Sillies including Babes In The Woods. He discusses Three Little Pigs specifically, but more as a contradiction to many of these trends. The pigs are pre-pubescent children, and while they are old enough to be without parental figures and have pin-ups, they still sing with high voices and dress like toddlers (except, of course, Practical Pig, who has photos of his parents and wears pants). Therefore the short takes place in the “self-contained infant world of play,” a fact echoed by the presence of the lean, hairy, evil wolf.
This article would be useful for my paper as evidence of the direct trend of the Silly Symphonies from experimental, even “anarchy” in animation, to standardization in the portrayal of fairy tales. But it also codifies the aspects of the adaptation process which are distinctly Disney and American, and shows how these aspects fall into the categories of characterization especially. Sound and color are also mentioned as methods for advancing animation and increasing the potency of the stories told in these short films.
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.