Monday, November 2, 2009

The China Shop

The China Shop is another of the Silly Symphonies that features inhabitants of a store coming alive after dark. It’s similar to Midnight in a Toy Shop in many ways, but also things like The Bird Store. The magic of what happens after dark is a recurring theme in the Disney shorts, and continues here.

The basics are that a china shop is owned by an old man, who delicately places his china pieces throughout the store before leaving. All around the store are very precious pieces, such as a gentleman and lady, pitchers, plates and statues of different types. Of course, after he leaves, it’s time for the china to come alive.

That means it’s time for the patented Silly Symphonies silly dance routines. These are sometimes superfluous, but not here. The dancing shows the joy and happiness of the china pieces after the owner has departed, and sets the tone for the happy spirit that gets interrupted later on in the short. It’s a good piece of work by the animators, to convey emotion from plates or steins.

The centerpiece of the short, however, is the gentleman and the lady. Their dance together is very reminiscent of the same scene from Midnight in a Toy Shop. These are realistic human figures, which is a significant thing for Disney. There are very few realistic figures in the Disney shorts so far, and it is something we will see more of as we get closer to the features.

Their revelry is interrupted by a statue of a satyr, who steals the lady away and locks her in a cabinet. The gentleman tries to come after her, but the satyr begins throwing the china at him, shattering the majority of the things in the shop. This mass chaos and destruction in the shop is different from the other “things come alive at night” shorts, in that things do not go back to normal in the morning.

The gentleman wins, of course, besting the satyr with a few punches and a well placed kick, before the clock shatters the satyr with its pendulum. The gentleman rescues his lady friend, and all is well.

Until the owner comes back, that is, and surveys the damage. As I said, this is a change from previous shorts, in that the frivolity and fun that the toys/china have at night is still there in the morning. Things don’t go back to normal.

All is well, though, as the shop owner changes his sign from “Rare China” to “Rare Antiques” and charges more for the broken pieces. Ah, capitalism at its finest. The China Shop isn’t the best piece of work, but it’s not the worst, either. It’s really just a middle of the road Silly Symphony, which is to say it’s fun to watch but by no means indispensable.

All images copyright Disney. All rights reserved.


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  2. This is an odd little short. The scene with all the dancing and clinking in time to the music felt like it belonged in an earlier short, but with the update of colour. I would have lumped this in with all the other things-come-alive-after-dark idea for shorts, but this is actually based on a story by Hans Christian Andersen; "The Shepherdess and the Chimney-Sweep". I know I said this cartoon is odd, but the story it's based on is even weirder.

    This is another one that isn't really a favourite. I'm a little put off by the sickly colours in the short (I prefer the bottle green of the satyr to all the other characters), but they are true to the kind of ornaments on which they're based. Also some of the things-with-faces are kind of creepy! That said, I really like the shiny effects on all the characters in this cartoon which at times reminds me of the early Pixar films (which always had shiny objects coming to life). Also there was a chaotic climax and a funny gag at the end, rather than the usual cliché rescue and then the lovers embrace type ending. It's gotta get points for that!


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