Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Cartoon a Day: Horton Hatches the Egg

Horton Hatches the Egg
Directed by Bob Clampett
Available on: Looney Tunes Golden Collection Vol. 6

I was extremely tired last night, so I watched my cartoon and went to bed without blogging. So it's time to catch up. Last night I watched one of the earliest adaptations of Dr. Seuss' work, "Horton Hatches the Egg."

Horton is a beautifully animated short, but it's not without it's faults. I'm usually the type that can separate the book version from the movie version. I don't get all offended when something from the book is changed for the movie. Some folks get downright mean about their favorite parts of a book being left out of the movie...you know who you are all you Harry Potter fans. With this short, the depiction of Horton is all wrong. In the book he comes across as proud and faithful. Here he comes across as pathetic, usually whimpering about his circumstances.

The other problem is the same one that others have encountered when adapting Seuss for film...they just don't seem to trust the source material. The feature film versions of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and "The Cat in the Hat" have had the same problem. It's one thing to add material to make a longer film, but what's added has to be in the spirit of Seuss. So far, only the computer animated version of "Horton Hears a Who" from last year has succeeded in that department. In this film, the bird, Mayzie, acts like Katharine Hepburn...quite annoyingly I might add. It just doesn't fit. The Peter Lorre-esqe fish who shoots himself in the head, while well animated, is most certainly out of place. Other goofy asides just seem to take away from the great source material.

But the thing that got me the most was that it just doesn't look like Seuss. The character designs are similar to his drawings, but the backgrounds, trees, etc don't have that Seuss quality. Animation is the perfect medium for adapting Seuss, they shoul've just left his designs alone.

Now, I sound pretty harsh here, but it's still a great example of animation. From an animation standpoint there is a lot to appreciate. It's trying to fix a story that isn't broken that's the problem. The film is enjoyable, well animated, but ultimately misguided in it's approach.

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