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Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: December 16, 1932
Stars: Betty Boop, Bimbo, Koko the Clown
Soon Betty is busy feeding a statue called Hunger, and she’s left behind after closing time. Suddenly the statues and fossils come alive, and a horned fossil demands her to sing for them. Betty Boop starts ‘Was That The Human Thing To Do’, a hit from that year, to which the fossils dance. Then the horned (or rather horny) fossil haunts Betty, until the museum suddenly collapses.
‘Betty Boop’s Museum’ is one of the more bizarre Betty Boop shorts of 1932/1933, even though it’s not as good as ‘Betty Boop’s Bamboo Isle‘ or ‘Snow White’. The short starts with a spectacular zoom out from Koko’s mouth. There’s also a very short, but nicely animated scene of Koko’s car on roller skates.
Watch ‘Betty Boop’s Museum’ yourself and tell me what you think:
‘Betty Boop’s Museum’ is available on the French DVD Box Set ‘Betty Boop Coffret Collector’
Director: Jan Švankmajer
Release Date: 1967
It uses drawings, models, skeletons, stuffed and live animals, which change into each other and which perform morbid dances. Their antics are interspersed with a close up of a man eating meat.
We see molluscs (Aquatilia, foxtrot), insects (Hexapoda, bolero), fish (Pisces, blues), reptiles (Reptilia, tarantella), birds (Aves, tango), mammals (Mammalia, menuet), monkeys (Simiae, polka) and man (Homo, waltz), successively.
It shows us that we, men, are made from the same mortal matter as the rest of the animal kingdom, which in this film appear to us only as collectibles or food. This unsettling reminder is emphasized by the last shot, in which the human is replaced by a skull, eating…
The music is a perfect match to the surrealistic imagery, with its rather abstract, uncanny and atonal renderings of the dance forms mentioned.
Watch ‘Historia Naturae, Suita’ yourself and tell me what you think:
‘Historia Naturae, Suita’ is available on the DVD ‘Jan Svankmajer – The Complete Short Films’
Director: Walt Disney
Release Date: May 10, 1929
Rating: ★★★★★ ♕
It starts spectacularly to begin with: we first watch lightning crack, immediately followed by an extreme close up of huge eyes, which only after the camera zooms out appear to belong to an owl.
The complete film is simple, yet perfect in its timing and its peculiar mix of eerie atmosphere and silly gags. The animation (which includes a remarkable quantity of repetition) is extraordinary fluent and the skeletons are convincing throughout the picture.
More than in any earlier cartoon the animation and music are a perfect match. This cartoon single-handedly puts Walt Disney, animator Ub Iwerks and composer Carl Stalling to the eternal hall of fame. A masterpiece.
‘The Skeleton Dance’ clearly shows Disney’s ambition. From now on Disney would use the Silly Symphony series to propel the art of animation forward, until the series ended 1939, after becoming a little obsolete, because their role had been taken over by the animated features.
Watch ‘The Skeleton Dance’ yourself and tell me what you think:
This is Silly Symphony No. 1
To the next Silly Symphony: El Terrible Toreador