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Director: George Pal
Release Date: June 27, 1941
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

Hoola Boola © George PalJim Darcy, the main protagonist in ‘Hoola Boola’, must be the most relaxed castaway in animated history.

In the opening scene we watch him sailing on a series of rafts from his stranded ship, relaxing in his chair, and listening to the radio. Almost immediately he hits an island, where his house builds itself. Soon he meets a native woman called Sarong-Sarong, and the two fall in love instantly. Then a canoe full of cannibals appear, capturing Jim. However, with help of some magic Sarong-Sarong rescues our hero, reuniting the two lovers.

‘Hoola Boola’ is a wonderful example of George Pal’s art, if not among his best films. One can marvel at the lovely decors, the bright colors, the cinematic staging and clever lighting. Yet, the facial expressions of the sailor and Sarong-Sarong are poor and primitive, and, of course, the story is drenched in cliches, with its castaway-meets-noble savage-and-cannibals story. Even Sarong-Sarong’s rescue is a cliche, with the black cannibals fleeing in terror, all too easily. On the other hand, Sarong-Sarong manages to summon five goblins out of nowhere to chase the cannibals away. I’d be scared of them, too…

‘Hoola Boola’ is available on the Blu-Ray ‘The Puppetoon Movie’

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Director: Paul Driessen
Release Date: 1985
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Spiegeleiland © Paul Driessen‘Spiegeleiland’ is a short and stylized animation film, which uses one scene and one perspective only.

We watch a castaway on an island and his reflection. The castaway is visited by a female companion and rescued by a ship. Or is he? The reflection tells another tale…

This simple story is told without dialogue and with the greatest economy. Like ‘Ei om zeep’ (The Killing of an Egg’) and ‘Het treinhuisje’ (Home on the Rails) we watch a single tableau. In ‘Spiegeleiland’ Driessen takes this format even further, limiting his action to a circle with only a tiny island within.

The result is without doubt one of Driessen’s strongest and most poetic films. Driessen would reuse this method of parallel depiction of reality and fantasy to a great effect in the tragic ‘The Boy Who Saw the Iceberg’ from 2000.

Watch ‘Spiegeleiland’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Spiegeleiland’ is available on the DVD ‘The Dutch Films of Paul Driessen’

Director: Wilfred Jackson
Release Date: March 27, 1931
Stars: Mickey Mouse
Rating: ★★
Review:

Still from 'The Castaway' featuring Mickey at the piano and a great apeMickey is a castaway, stranding on a tropical island.

Luckily, a piano is washed ashore as well, so Mickey performs for the jungle animals inhabiting the island. Unfortunately, an obnoxious little tiger disturbs him, and a great ape wants to play the piano, too, wrecking the instrument.

‘The Castaway’ was a short made out of rest material, and it shows: Mickey’s looks are wildly inconsistent, there’s not even a hint of a story, and the whole film feels like a throwback to 1929. Nevertheless, this short contains nice effect animation of waves washing ashore. It also reuses some animation of dancing sea lions from ‘Wild Waves‘ (1929) and of a dancing ape from ‘Jungle Rhythm‘ (1929), the film with which ‘The Castaway’ has most in common, which is no advertisement. In fact, Walt Disney disliked the film, thinking it didn’t look like a Walt Disney picture. And indeed, it hardly does.

The gag in which a lion gets eaten by a crocodile was borrowed from a very early Mickey Mouse comic strip from February 1930, which incidentally was the last panel drawn by Ub Iwerks himself.

‘The Castaway’ is also noteworthy for being the first Disney short to feature music by Frank Churchill, who would score many Disney shorts, and who would become particularly famous for the hit song ‘Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf’ from ‘Three Little Pigs‘ (1933) and the songs in ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ (1937).

Watch ‘The Castaway’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 27
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: Traffic Troubles
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: The Moose Hunt

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