Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cartoon a Day: The Winged Scourge

The Winged Scourge
Directed by Walt Disney & Bill Roberts (both uncredited)
Available on: Walt Disney Treasures - On the Front Lines

I originally said that this whole "Cartoon a Day" mission was to bring a little more laughter into my life. So including a short like "The Winged Scourge" doesn't really seem to fit. This film was one of many educational shorts produced by Disney during World War II. It's about how mosquitoes spread malaria, kind of gross. But it's not just the humor of cartoons that makes me smile, it's the enjoyment of the art, so that means occasionally we'll look at a film that's not a comedy.

"The Winged Scourge" starts off with a look at how mosquitoes spread disease and the ruin this causes the folks who can no longer work to support their families when they get sick. There is actually little animation in this segment, but there is some pretty impressive art. The paintings of a destroyed farm are pretty graphic.

Things lighten up a bit in the second half of the film as the seven dwarfs demonstrate different things you can do to stop mosquitoes from multiplying and to help safe guard your home. Some scenes are somewhat cringe worthy as we see the dwarfs spraying chemicals all around the forest and even pouring oil over the pond to kill the mosquito larva. The animation of the dwarfs is excellent, though, on the same level as they appeared in "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." That's the beautiful thing about Disney in those days, there was no difference in the quality between features and shorts. Not like the difference we see between feature animation and television today.

"The Winged Scourge" deals with some pretty unpleasant subject matter, but it's nice to see the dwarfs back in action. They really were well designed characters that had such a wide range of movement and expression.

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