Tuesday 26 May 2020

How a Horse Dances

Look! Those cartoon characters are moving along to the musical beat. And making noise!

In the early days of sound, that was pretty much good enough for a theatre audience, so that’s what Walt Disney delivered, enlivened occasionally by a bad guy threatening a girl who is then rescued by the good guy.

But there was an awful lot of dancing in those early Mickey shorts. Take, for example, The Plowboy (1929). In one scene, the plough horse does nothing but dance along for 23 seconds, using the same positions over and over. To us, it’s lacklustre. In 1929, it must have been a marvel.

There are eight drawings in the one dance cycle, all on ones.

The scene is followed by Minnie Mouse in more cycle animation, skipping (and even flying) to “Catcher in the Rye.” It’s a far cry from The Band Concert. But the artwork still looks years ahead of the Fables cartoons made in 1929 on the East Coast.

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