I was remarking to someone earlier in my review of the 1951 shorts that they all seemed very stale. There was nothing new or exciting, which is somewhat disappointing considering what would be forthcoming. After all,
in Wonderland is right around the corner, and that’s definitely different. Things like Sleeping Beauty and other films
were coming soon as well. So why wasn’t
that sort of experimentation showing up in the shorts?
As of Plutopia, we see something completely different than what we have experienced before. Early on, though, it doesn’t appear that way. The sort opens just like any other Disney short and seems normal. It shows a freshly designed Mickey driving Pluto out into the middle of the woods to a cabin for a vacation. This is a familiar set up and made me feel like we were in for more of the same. Even the appearance of a cat adversary seems fairly routine.
And as it unfolds, the routine short is what you get until about halfway. As Mickey discovers that there is a strict “no dogs allowed” policy in the cabin, he is forced to put Pluto outside and put him on a muzzle. The cat comes back by to exact revenge by taunting Pluto and eating his food before nuzzling down next to the dog. It’s after Pluto falls asleep that the real fun begins, however.
Immediately, we are transported away from the solid backgrounds and fully drawn figures of the real world and into an abstract world of dreams – Plutopia. The backgrounds disappear into a wall of solid colors. The shapes are mere color lines that form the idea of a doghouse or a pole. It’s abstract animation at its core. This is something we’ve seen in Dumbo, but not in the shorts. It’s a crazy, fun and inspired departure from the typical Disney filmmaking.
The dreamscape is where Pluto can escape from reality, as you’d expect. The cat develops the ability to speak, begs for Pluto to bite him and feeds Pluto steaks, bones, and more. It is a wonderful change of pace from what we have seen prior to this. Even once Pluto wakes up, I wanted to just go back to Plutopia and see the amazing art continue on and on, with more crazy backgrounds and new ideas. It’s fantastic to see, and one that I could watch over and over again.