Real film? Oh well. What Disney is doing as part of its remake offensive of in-house cartoon classics from “Dumbo”, the very dearest heartbreaker from 1941, has borrowings from the real world. However, they are limited to actresses, extras and their costumes. And the sets of the production, which was shot entirely in the studio.
But the characters that have so far been essential in the saga of the baby elephant with the big ears, all of them animals, as well as the landscapes and backgrounds, were generated using CGI technology. Which is even more evident than six months ago in the Winnie Pooh fairy tale “Christopher Robin”. And just like it can be seen next in the new edition of “Aladdin”, in which no animal plays the main role, but Will Smith will slip out of the bottle as a genie from May 23rd.
The lavish abundance of three-dimensional visual values this transformation enables, cinema fanatic Tim Burton tried out in 2010 in the real-life adaptation of “Alice in Wonderland”. It turned into a splendid to look at, but cold intoxication of colors, decorations, mythical creatures. There is no longer any trace of the morbid, subversive humor and the romantic magic of the illustrator and director, who was already supported by Disney as a student, who succeeded in series of visually style-defining works such as “Edward Scissorhands”, “Nightmare before Christmas” and “Mars Attacks”. How it works when a bizarre stop-motion animator becomes a brand with a full production budget.
You were a bit afraid for “Dumbo”. In spite of two racisms typical of the time, which have now been diagnosed, the original, directed by Ben Sharpsteen, is a gorgeous, pure-hearted and, with a running time of 64 minutes, pleasantly catchy work. In addition, one whose aesthetics have not worn out a bit in contrast to the now sugar-sweet and sticky-looking Disney line of the sixties.
Danny DeVito gives the battered ringmaster
Tim Burton’s 1919 version actually only has the themes of circus, family love and friendship in common. And of course the motif of the scorned freak, afflicted with the flaw of too large ears, which is becoming a flying star in the ring. This time, not by talking animal buddies, but by completely new human personnel, who help the story beyond their own perspective. Danny DeVito, as the battered ringmaster Max Medici, rakes in the most sympathy points.
The only thing worse than his ailing traveling circus is his former star Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell). When his children pick up the war veteran at the train station, the trick rider’s wife has not only died in the meantime, but his left arm has also remained on the battlefield.
He and his children, Milly (Nico Parcer) and Joe (Finley Hobbins), who are looked after by the weird circus family, become elephant keepers. Science enthusiast Milly is also the one who teaches Mrs. Jumbo’s offspring to fly. And what serves as an exercise fetish? Of course: feathers! When VA Vandevere (beautifully aasig: Michael Keaton) shows up to buy Dumbo for his Dreamland amusement park, it seems agreed that the salvation of entertainment lies in being different. But be careful, the professional shark did the math without virtues such as pachyderm love and circus freak solidarity.
A good show includes other attractions
Strange that a Disney film of all things castigated the cool steam punk mechanics of a glittering amusement park as a pure money machine. After all, the entertainment company itself operates just such. In the film, the amusement park is located as an XXL Coney Island in front of the New York skyline. An urbanized, mass-sluicing alternative to the declining world of the circus director Medici, who moves with his troop over the villages.
For the long-established company Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, the message that the old Medici himself understood in the film comes too late anyway: “Wild animals don’t belong in the circus.” The elephant show was stopped there in 2016, only to go bankrupt a year later do. After 146 years. The new “Dumbo”, on the other hand, postulates that other attractions belong to a good show. And that poor Millys can become scientists too.
If you disregard the decor mannerisms, which this time remain reasonably in check, things could have been much worse for the super cute baby elephant. As for the music that once ranged from the Oscar-winning teardrop “Baby Mine” to the jazzy Cab Calloway homage “When I See an Elephant Fly”. All that’s left of this is the iconic lullaby in a campfire version. Burton’s regular composer Danny Elfman only lets other songs appear in quotations and instead pours his own everyday sauce of spherical angel choirs over them.
In 20 Berlin cinemas. OV: Cinestar Sony Center, OV: Kulturbrauerei