Friday, October 31, 2008

Cartoon a Day: The Skeleton Dance

The Skeleton Dance
Directed by Walt Disney
Available on: Walt Disney Treasures - Silly Symphonies
Also: Walt Disney Treasures - The Adventures of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit

For Halloween there was just no other cartoon as appropriate to review than "The Skeleton Dance." This short remains one of the greatest animated films of all time. It is amazingly creative, using images both funny and scary to create an important animation milestone.

One of the reasons this cartoon is so great is the marriage of the visuals and the music. Ub Iwerks animated the film, we talked about his great contribution to animation before, but we mustn't overlook maestro Carl Stalling. His music works right along with the animation, bringing out the humor in some pretty gruesome images. Stalling would later go on to music for the Looney Tunes.

In animation anything is possible! A skeleton can jump out of it's grave, throw his head at an owl, and then start dancing around a graveyard before playing another skeleton like a xylophone...where else but in a cartoon! Filmmakers were still figuring that out in 1929, this film was a huge step forward. One reviewer over at the Internet Movie Database called this "six of the most important minutes in film history," I'd have to agree.

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