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5 Award-Winning Animated Films of the 1930s

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The year 1930 was the stepping stone for modern animation. It created a base for the upcoming innovations and storylines. Though the movies were hardly ten minutes long, they were creative enough to soak anyone in.

At some point, these creations are going to be century-old and even more, but they are still blooming with freshness. In fact, many of these animated films are the inspirations behind what you see today.

The five films, mentioned here, are the Oscar-winning short films. Not surprisingly, all of them are produced by Walt Disney Productions.

1. Flowers and Trees (1932)

Flowers and Trees was the first film produced using full-color three-strip Technicolor process. It was also the first film to win the Academy Awards in the category of Short Cartoon Films. The film was released on July 30, 1932.

Plot: It’s the spring season, the time for nature to bloom in its full glory. All the trees, flowers, and mushrooms are busy doing calisthenics. Trees are playing tunes using vines for harp strings. In the mid of all excitement, an altercation occurs between a younger, healthier tree and a snappish hollow tree to get noticed by a female tree.

As expected, the young tree is the winner, but the hollow tree, filled with resentment, strikes back by initiating a forest fire. All the plants and animals try to extinguish the fire. They poke holes in the clouds, resulting in rain. Eventually, birds manage to put an end to the fire. However, the hollow tree is caught in the fire himself and is, finally, perished in the flames.

The young tree approaches the female tree and proposes her with a caterpillar bending in the shape of a ring. They embrace and the whole forest is thrilled with the news. In the end, a twelve-color rainbow forms behind them.

2. Three Little Pigs (1933)

Three Little Pigs is based on a fable of the same name. The film was so successful that it earned a massive amount of $250,000 at the box office. It was also voted as one of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time in 1994.

Plot: Three brothers - Fifer Pig, Fiddler Pig, and Practical Pig build their own houses. Each of them is good at playing a different musical instrument. Fifer plays flute, Fiddler plays violin, and Practical is shown continuously working with no rest. Using straw and stick, Fifer and Fiddler build their houses in no time and start to have fun all day.

On the other hand, Practical wants to build a strong brick house, so he has no time for enjoyment. He also warns his brothers that their houses won’t save them when the wolf comes. But instead of heeding his advice, they would poke fun at him and keep singing the song, Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?.

As the two brothers are lost in fun, the Big Bad Wolf actually comes. Seeing him in flesh, Fifer and Fiddler get cold feet and run to their respective houses. The wolf blows down both their houses, leaving them with no option, but to hide at Practical’s house.

Despite wolf’s disguises and cunning tricks, Practical manages to outdo him. Thus, his wisdom proved right at the end and he also saved his careless brothers from the Big Bad Wolf.

3. The Tortoise and the Hare (1935)

The Tortoise and the Hare is based on the Aesop’s fable of the same name. Besides its award-winning story and visuals, the film was also an inspiration for the character of Bugs Bunny that appeared in 1940.

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Plot: Max Hare is athletic, fast, and smug. He participates in a sporting event and is highly favorable as a winner. His competitor is Toby Tortoise, who is ridiculed for being sluggish and clumsy. Max tells Toby that the game is going to be fair and square, though his only intention is to humiliate his competition.

Without any effort, Max starts to dominate the race. Exceedingly ahead of Toby, he feigns to nap under a tree. Seeing him in deep slumber, Toby creeps past him. After a while, Max wakes up and runs past Toby like a storm. He again takes a few breaks in the middle of the race, as he is confident to win the race, eventually.

However, his long detours get overwhelming and he loses track of Toby. When he sees Toby about to approach the finish line, he rushes through but fails to come first. In the end, the crowd rushes towards Toby to praise him as the winner.

4. The Country Cousin (1936)

The Country Cousin is based on the story of The Town Mouse and The Country Mouse, which is one of the Aesop’s fables.

Plot: Abner is a country mouse from “Podunk”. After receiving a telegram from his cousin to live with him in the city, Abner sets out to experience an entirely different lifestyle. He is oblivious to the city hardships and often stirs the disdain of Monty. On the other hand, Monty is deeply aware of the daily problems of city life.

Monty takes Abner to a human resident where the humans have set out a meal. They begin by eating cheese. Abner, being not quite sophisticated, starts binge eating on celery, cream, and mustard. He later gets drunk with Champagne and starts to see double vision.

The worse is yet to come when Abner slips on the butter lying on a saucer. The saucer spins and flies across the table breaking several pieces of dish-ware.

Infuriated Montry tries to escape with his cousin, but are attacked by a cat. Due to which, they are forced to take another way. Jumping out of the window, they land on the city street, where Abner met Monty.

Facing so many hurdles and near-death experiences, Abner decides to go back home and never return. He concludes city life isn’t meant for him.

5. Ferdinand the Bull (1938)

Ferdinand the Bull is based on Munro Leaf’s 1936 book, The Story of Ferdinand. The film gained worldwide popularity such that it became a ritual to broadcast the film every year on Christmas Eve especially in Sweden.

Plot: Unlike the rest of the bulls, who train themselves to fight, Ferdinand’s only desire is to sit under a shady corky tree and smell the beautiful flowers. Other bulls loathe him for his clumsiness.

Many years pass, Ferdinand, grows to becomes the strongest and largest among all. While all the bulls are working night and day to compete in bullfights in Madrid, Spain, Ferdinand’s love for flowers hasn’t changed a bit.

One day, five men from the Bullfighting championship come to choose the bull. Except for Ferdinand, all the bulls fight till the end to get noticed. But the day belongs to our protagonist, Ferdinand, unwillingly, knocks out the bulls and tears down a tree when he is attacked by a bee’s sting. As a result, Ferdinand is selected and taken to Madrid.

The arena is filled with excited people and Ferdinand has already gained immense popularity as “Ferdinand The Fierce”. Everyone is panic-stricken when they see him being brought up in the arena, even the matador is scared stiff. However, instead of revolting Ferdinand starts to smell the flowers that a lady gave to the matador.

He is dismissed from the arena and sent back home. Finally, at peace, he continues to lay under the cork tree and smell the flowers.

Despite made in the 1930s, each of these films has been successful for more than a century now. In fact, most of the modern Disney creations are based on their early works of the 30s and 40s.

© 2020 Prachi Sharma

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