They used to show the Silly Symphonies all the time on the Disney Channel back in the day--classics like "The Three Little Pigs" or "The Grasshopper and the Ants" or "The Ugly Duckling." I like the idea of the Silly Symphonies, because, like Disney's "Peter and the Wolf," or Fantasia, they presuppose that classical music is for everyone, and that even toddlers have the attention spans necessary to enjoy a cartoon propelled primarily by the tones of woodwinds or stringed instruments. (Forty-two years after the last Silly Symphony was produced, we would have the advent of MTV, which still suggested that kids can relate to music, but showcased just how much their attention spans had deteriorated.) So, I want to like them, but I just--yeah, I still hate them, this one especially.
I hate the anthropomorphic gendered trees, I hate the racist caricature daisies, I hate the creepy smiling dancing phallic mushrooms, and I hate--oh how I hate--the male trees' long, spindly root-fingers. They are hideous--shades of Max Schreck's gnarled claws as Nosferatu, only so much more horrible since they're in cartoon form.
The plot of "Flowers and Trees" goes like this: boy tree likes girl tree, but girl tree gets abducted by an evil tree stump with a nasty knothole bellybutton (do anthropomorphic trees have a fetal stage?). Boy tree fights for the girl and wins, so the evil stump starts a fire (here we go again) and the trees, being made of wood, are pretty darn flammable. The forest goes up in flames as the flowers, the birds, and the bugs all flee for their lives. The evil stump winds up lying dead as vultures circle his rotting (he's a hollow stump after all, so I'm assuming here) corpse.
But then it ends with a tree wedding, so I suppose this is meant to be in the vein of a Shakespearean comedy. Although, like The Merchant of Venice, it's not very funny.
Hath not a tree insidiously creepy hands?
"Flowers and Trees." Dir. Burt Gillett. Walt Disney, 1932.
Watch it on YouTube here.
Walt Disney Treasures - Silly Symphonies
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