Director: Burt Gillett
Release Date: July 30, 1932
Rating: ★★★★★ ♕
Nevertheless, it feels like a transitional film. The colors make it stunningly modern compared to the earlier Silly Symphony entries, but some of the designs still firmly belong to the black-and-white era. The designs of the flowers and the caterpillars, for instance, go back all the way to the third Silly Symphony, ‘Springtime‘ from 1929.
For contemporary audiences, the film may seem rather silly and a bit old fashioned, but its storytelling is very economical. It contains some original visual gags (flowers brushing their teeth, a pine portrayed as a hen) and fine drama, when the wood is set on fire. The colors are not only used as a novelty, but add to the drama, as do musical quotes from Schubert’s “Erlkönig”.
Technicolor was a great advancement for the Silly Symphony series. The colors created way more atmosphere and allowed for more complex designs. Because of color, the Silly Symphonies would propel animated art forward like they never did before, making Walt Disney the undisputed leader in the field.
This leadership was greatly aided by the exclusive contract Disney concluded with Technicolor, giving him the exclusive rights to use the new technique for animated films for three years. So, when other studios had to stick to black and white, or were obliged to use far less convincing two-color techniques, Walt Disney made the most beautiful and literally most colorful cartoons of the thirties.
‘Flowers and Trees’ enthralled the critics so much at the time, they installed a special Academy Award for best animated short films, with ‘Flowers and Trees’ naturally being its first winner. During the thirties Disney would win every Oscar in this category.
Watch ‘Flowers and Trees’ yourself and tell me what you think: