Dumbo: A Remake of a Classic
With over 150 movies, Disney is considered to be one of the biggest entertainment companies in the world. This comes with no surprise, as most people you speak to have most likely seen and loved a Disney movie at some point in their lives, no matter what their age is. Disney has been releasing films since 1923, so there is something for every generation to love.
To keep the newer generations interested the children’s entertainment moguls have not only continued to release new Disney stories, such as Frozen and Moana, but have also decided to remake some of the classics so that newer generations can enjoy them.
Dumbo is the first of the three remakes to hit the cinemas having been released in the United States on the 28th of March. For those who don’t know, the story of Dumbo follows a baby elephant who is considered to be too ‘ugly’ for the circus due to his big ears. This making his mother mad, sends her on a rampage causing her to be sent away from Dumbo. In order to try and get his mother back, Dumbo defies all odds and uses his big ears to fly, becoming one of the biggest hits in all of the circus.
When watching this film you cannot help but compare it to the 1941 original. Much like the original, Dumbo is extremely cute. You can’t help but smile when you see his big ears and round, heart warming eyes. He is the most adorable thing in this whole movie and I feel that is something that is very important to keep the same when making this remake. Dumbo is a baby elephant and baby elephants are generally cute. So when it comes to a children’s movie, it is important to keep Dumbo as cute as it makes him more likeable to the younger audience and more importantly, make you feel bad for him when others think he is ugly.
Another thing that director Tim Burton kept in this remake from the original was the music. In the original picture, Dumbo is almost somewhat of a musical with songs being sung by characters throughout the film. Some of the famous songs include Baby Mine, Pink Elephants on Parade and When I See An Elephant Fly and are all featured in the new film. However instead of being sung by characters are played in the background during important scenes in film. This is really effective as hearing these songs allows lovers of the original film to not only reminisce but hear these songs in a new way.
Although this film may sound amazing for all lovers of Disney, it has received quite the backlash from critics. One major critique is that the film is too ‘dark’ for Disney. Tim Burton has been known to make quite dark and scary films and received this same criticism when he directed the remake of Alice in Wonderland in 2010. It is considered to be to dark as in this film there is more of a focus on the animal cruelty that the animals face in the circus. Many argue that this is something that children don’t need to see, however I would argue otherwise. It is common knowledge that animals such as elephants were not treated correctly in the circus, so therefore I feel that by showing this cruelty in the film it not only makes it more historically accurate, but reminds us humans of the mistakes of our past. Perhaps Burton could have had less whips and chains to show this cruelty to make it more ‘child friendly’ but in my opinion still taught us all this important message.
The new Dumbo film has also received criticism for being quite different to the original. In the original film, Dumbo is bullied by the other elephants and made fun of by audience members for his big ears and does not prove them all wrong by flying until the end of the film. In the remake, we see Dumbo fly in the first twenty minutes of the film, making him extremely famous. After this we see the introduction of a new character called Vandemere (Michael Keaton) who convinces circus owner Medici (Danny DeVito) to bring Dumbo and his circus to his famous theme park ‘Dreamland’. The character of Vandemere becomes the villain of the film as he locks away Dumbo’s mother and ultimately tries to kill her. Many argue that this villain is not needed in the movie as he just makes the movie alot longer than what it needs to be and takes away from the original.
I feel though that what we need to take into account is the length of both films. In 2019, an average film usually runs for about two hours. The new Dumbo film runs for one hour and fifty two minutes which is close to this average but the 1941 film only runs for one hour and four minutes, which is almost half the time of movies run now. So I see it as absolutely necessary to add in new characters like Vandemere, to not only make the film more interesting for viewers, but actually makes it more of a movie! I re-watched the original not long ago and remember being left disappointed when the film was over as it was quite short. I wanted more and this film certainly gave it to me. It builds the story for newer audiences, which is ultimately the goal for these Disney remakes.
Personally, my only criticisms of the film is the fact that Dumbo is ‘rode’ by many characters throughout the film. This is something that is also not in the original film. In this new film I feel that it is unnecessary as it starts to take the focus off of Dumbo and put it on the human characters who ride him, which really sways from the message of the movie, which is Dumbo is flying to try and get his mother back. The fact that an elephant can fly is amazing enough, and putting people on his back I found quite cheesy and a bit much.
This is why I only give the movie a 3/5 star rating. However, recommend that you judge for yourself and go and see this movie while it is still in cinemas.