Disney’s Dumbo, Tripping the Elephants Electric

by Bill Benzon

We are now less than a year away from the scheduled release of Disney’s live-action remake of Dumbo, the studio’s fourth animated feature. It is in some ways dark and sinister–animals jaded from the daily grind of performing and being on display; cruel, exploitive, and drunken clowns; and the snobbish elephant matrons who ostracize Dumbo and his mother. But let’s set that aside–I’ve covered it all, and more, in my working paper on Dumbo. By the time the film had come out, 1941, there’d been a substantial history of cartoons centered on animals. If anything, cartoons were more likely to center on humans than animals. Why animals and why elephants? Read more »