The Beloved Circus Elephant Stars in an Updated Film
By: Brooke Price
The classic 1941 film “Dumbo” has been remade by the creative mind of Tim Burton. Lately, Disney has been cashing in on the CGI /live action remakes of its original movies.
“Dumbo” is no exception to this era of remakes. Although the film’s visuals were impressive, the story it tries to communicate falls flat.
Dumbo, a newborn circus elephant has abnormally large ears and learns that he can fly by holding onto a “magic feather.”
The film also focuses on Holt Farrier, a circus performer and World War I veteran coming back to the circus to reconnect with his children Milly and Joe.
Collin Farrel plays Holt, the caring and loving father of Milly and Joe. Danny DeVito portrays Max Medici, the ringleader of the circus.
Michael Keaton plays V.A. Vandevere, who brings Dumbo and other circus performers to his amusement park, Dreamland. Eva Green plays Colette Marchant, the French aerialist from Dreamland that trains with Dumbo to improve his flying ability.
Edd Osmond plays Dumbo, the flying elephant. For the role, he had to wear a green suit and perform the movements and actions that would be recorded for the CGI for Dumbo.
According to USA Today, “A life-size Dumbo model with a detachable head and ears stood in on the set for lighting and reference purposes. For dynamic scenes, there was Edd Osmond, a creature performer dressed in a bright green suit. Osmond, who portrayed the ape friend in 2013’s “Tarzan,” studied the movement of baby elephants to convincingly give the stars something to act against. The CGI Dumbo seen on-screen was added in post-production.”
Unlike the original 1941 film, the other elephants are absent from the circus, with the exception of Dumbo’s mother. The other elephants don’t bully Dumbo for his ears. Instead, Dumbo gets his name when a sign’s letters fall off during an act.
In an interview with AMC theatres, Burton discussed his reason for making the film. “I realize one of the reasons I wanted to do it is this is kind of like my story — this weird character that doesn’t quite fit in, working with a large family entertainment company. It’s been a funny journey.”
The recent film focused more on the children rather than Dumbo and was also a little slow moving in the beginning.
Although the movie was supposed to focus on Dumbo’s journey to reunite with his mother, the film centered on two children, Milly and Joe, who reunite with their father after coming home from World War I.
The movie is titled “Dumbo,” however it didn’t really showcase how tough it was for Dumbo to grow up in the circus, isolated from his mother. Sure, he was ridiculed for his ears in the film, but he wasn’t gossiped about or made fun of by the other circus animals like in the original film.
The emotional factor wasn’t really there that made us feel sad about Dumbo and his mother’s situation. With the lack of other talking animals, the film became a bit bland after hearing about the characters backstories.
Even though the children act as the supporting roles to Dumbo, it was still missing other animals that communicated with Dumbo, such as Timothy the mouse and the crows.
The film also had a mouse, but he didn’t speak. In the original film, Timothy the mouse was Dumbo’s friend and motivated Dumbo to fly and search for his mother.
Some of the characters felt unnecessary in their placement. Sure, the characters helped develop the plot and helped encourage Dumbo to fly, however it deviated from the character development and growth of Dumbo.
The film showcased the iconic “Baby Mine” scene where Dumbo’s mother, Mrs. Jumbo, holds Dumbo’s trunk through her cage and caresses him. Although Dumbo’s mother didn’t sing to him in the film, one of the circus performers sang the song, which was used during the scene in the movie.
The message “Dumbo” tries to spread is heartwarming, however parts of the movie felt lacking in essence.