Thursday, October 29, 2009

Giantland

Uncle Mickey Mouse is something we’ve seen a few times so far, in shorts like Mickey’s Orphans. Mickey seems like a good parent, and in Giantland, today’s subject, he goes to the time honored tradition of telling your kids a story. What a story it is, too.



Mickey tells his nephews the story of Jack and the Beanstalk, with Mickey playing the role of Jack. What’s so interesting to me is that this is a story that would be retold later in the Disney features, as part of Fun and Fancy Free. That story features Donald and Goofy as well, and fleshes out the story over a featurette rather than a short.

This short skips the portion of the story with Jack and the cow and the magic beans, and goes straight to Mickey climbing the beanstalk to Giantland. We are told it is Giantland by the sign on the ground as Mickey reaches the top, then hitches a ride on a butterfly to the castle of the Giant.



It’s not long until we are introduced to the Giant, who comes trodding down the path, singing that he is “the King of the Giants.” That’s rather odd, because there are no other giants in the short, so I’m not entirely sure who he is the king of, exactly. His introduction is a great piece of animation, though. We see the full shot of the giant, then go to a close up of his feet, and the world seems to turn underneath the power of his feet. It’s quite a good effect, and the first time we’ve seen something like that in a while.

You can imagine what happens from there. Mickey gets onto the dinner table of the Giant, unbeknownst to the big guy. He hides in the sugar bowl, in the cheese, and eventually gets swallowed by the Giant in a sandwich. That leads to the funniest part of the film.



Mickey hangs out in the Giant’s mouth for a good minute or two, dodging peas as the Giant drops them in, then sticks a pipe in and starts smoking Mickey out. The pipe is the one that gets Mickey, as he blows back into the pipe and spurts tobacco all over the room.

The mouth segment is funny, but then you have Mickey’s escape, which is pretty good as well. He manages to launch pepper into the Giant’s face, with an elaborate fork/spoon lever system, and escape out the front door.



One interesting twist here, though, is instead of chopping the beanstalk down when the Giant chases him, Mickey lights it on fire. The Giant is menaced by the firelings, my favorite little guys. Seriously, I want a plush of the little firelings. Disney, get on that.



In the end, Mickey prevails, of course. This short offers a good glimpse of Mickey the hero, who we don’t get to see as often anymore. It suffers though, from not having any of the supporting characters around. No Pluto or Minnie to offer a foil to Mickey. That’s really the only flaw I see, however, as this is a very entertaining and fun short to watch.

All images copyright Disney. All rights reserved.


2 comments:

  1. We get to see some of Mickey's extended family in this one. Here the hoardes of Mickey kids aren't explained as orphans or dreamed up children, but seem to be his nieces and nephews. Also check out the portraits in the background to see some other mouse relations!

    But the kids are just a device to quickly cut right into the action of a Mickey-and-a-giant story. I'm actually glad that there are no other characters like Minnie or Pluto to complicate the story and instead the short focusses its short running time on Mickey in the giant's world. The artists clearly had a lot of fun playing around with Mickey at this scale and there's lots of excellent use of dark, light and shadows for dramatic effect throughout the short.

    There's some really good bits in this short. Mickey ending up in the giant's mouth is great – and almost a little gruesome! I also like it when the giant falls off the beanstalk, hitting the ground with such force that the surrounding landscape is sucked into the gigantic hole that is created.

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  2. Did you know one of the lost Laugh-o-Grams is called "Jack and the Beanstalk"? About the "King of the Giants", I assume we're supposed to imagine that the other giants exist offscreen.

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