Monday, October 12, 2009

The darkness of Disney 2: The Skeleton Dance

In 1929, on the heels of Mickey Mouse's initial popularity, Walt Disney sought to expand the number of cartoons regularly released by his studio. He did so by creating the Silly Symphonies series, which ran from 1929 to 1939 for a total of 75 cartoons. Silly Symphonies usually featured stories or scenes set to specific songs or types of music, and for the most part didn't star any of the regular Disney characters. The series proved invaluable in giving the Disney artists a chance to experiment with various story and art styles and techniques, which in turn led, eventually, to the animated feature films.

The first of the Silly Symphonies was The Skeleton Dance, a somewhat macabre cartoon that showcases the early animation style of Disney's then-right-hand man, Ub Iwerks. Most notably for this cartoon, Iwerks animated the still-startling image of a skeleton leaping forward at the viewer and seemingly swallowing the camera. Also featured is a musical soundtrack created and adapted by Carl Stalling, who would later go on to create the distinctive musical backgrounds for the Warner Brothers cartoons. Note that the "plot" to The Skeleton Dance is essentially the same as that for Night on Bald Mountain, which audiences saw 11 years later.


SallyP said...

Seriously, how can anyone NOT like dancing skeletons?

Sea-of-Green said...

Yeah, they're so much more entertaining than ghosts. ;-)