Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cartoon a Day: Father Noah's Ark

Father Noah's Ark
Directed by Wilfred Jackson (uncredited)
Available on: Walt Disney Treasures - Silly Symphonies

Time for a deep theological study! Well, not exactly. It's pretty rare to find a Bible story as the basis for an major studio animated short. This entry in Disney's Silly Symphonies series is one of at least three film's from that studio to use the story of Noah (the others being the 1959 stop motion short "Noah's Ark" and a segment of "Fantasia 2000"). This certainly isn't going to be the springboard for any Sunday School curriculum, but it's a great little short.

The animators really seem to have a field day with coming up with unique ways to have the animals assist with preparing the ark for it's voyage. My favorite sequence involves the wives of Noah's sons loading the food on the ship. They send a bunch of fruits and vegetables heading down a chute, at the bottom the food is impaled on the backs on porcupines which create a conveyor belt that loads the food onto the ark. The visual gags are fun, but there is also a lot of really beautiful artwork. The opening wide shot of the animals working on a half-finished ark is amazing, as is a shot toward the end of the ark with the rainbow overhead.

The Silly Symphonies were very much a workshop of sorts for Disney's artists. The animators were clearly trying new things with this short. There are a lot of advances in the design of some of the animal characters, and the design of Noah and his sons have some good aspects, but they aren't quite there yet on the female characters. The wives of Noah's sons don't exactly have a wide range of expression, but the Disney crew would improve female designs as the series continued.

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