Dumbo (1941)

I'm always surprised about the emotional impact that "Dumbo" has on me. It's like I'm getting slapped. Perhaps it's the innocent childhood that is so beautifully portrayed or maybe it's the maternal love that gets demonstrated—the result of the love is punished severely. The idea of embracing yourself completely, flaws and all, is crucial to the picture and is not an uncommon theme to see in children's movies. What "Dumbo" is saying is that, should you completely be happy with yourself, you can fly...metaphorically and in this case, physically.
What starts out feeling like a movie about the epic numbers has some very strange twists and turns.
"Dumbo" begins with storks flying in with new babies. This is where babies come from which makes me wonder if my education was correct or not...this way would certainly be a whole lot easier. Anyways, the storks bring the babies to the circus where the mama and papa tigers, kangaroos, hippos, and giraffes all welcome their newest arrivals. One elephant stands waiting for her package. This is Mrs. Jumbo, a silent pachyderm who just wants a child to give her love and affection.
The train moves on, plodding from one town to the next. As the locomotive merrily whizzes through Florida, a stork slowly catches up with it. This delivery service is bringing Mrs. Jumbo her lovely baby.
The stork drops the bundle off, gets her to sign for it, sings a song, and then gets whisked away leaving mother with baby.
The unwrapping of the little guy has all the elephants in a tizzy. They ooh and aah and tell her how cute the boy is...then he sneezes and a little problem is visible—well, not so little. This little elephant has huge ears that make him look comical. The elephants scorn him because he's different...he's unique. Mrs. Jumbo names him Jumbo Junior, which doesn't last long.
He soon earns the moniker Dumbo and when he messes up a circus act, he gets relocated to the clowns. Spurned by his own kind who vow that he is no longer an elephant and separated from his mother, Dumbo finds companionship with Timothy the mouse.
Timothy wants Dumbo to have the best future possible, so he hires himself as a manager of sorts.
"Dumbo" is a movie filled to the brim with heartache. Ostracizing, hatred, xenophobia, and greed—these fill up the screen time.
The songs are rarely remembered from "Dumbo", the best known number would be the crows singing about never having seen an elephant fly. But the movie holds many surprises like a drunken, hallucinatory scene that might provide children with many, many nightmares.
As a kid's movie, "Dumbo" is very entertaining, serving a better purpose. For an adult's picture, "Dumbo" may seem heavy handed with its poignancy. But simply as a movie, "Dumbo" remains one of Disney's best films and best looking films.
It's very interesting interesting to think that this may be the only Disney film in which the main character is mute...I can't think of another one.
It's hardly a hassle to watch, barely cracking an hour in length; but every scene is remarkable in its own right. And yes, you might tear up a little, there's no shame in that.

Score: 4 out of 4 stars

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