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Advocate Disney: Dumbo by NostalgicChills Advocate Disney: Dumbo by NostalgicChills
A start of a new series called 'Advocate Disney.'

*The following analysis is my opinionated viewpoint, not fact.*

One thing i've always admired about the very early Disney classics (apart from the impressive animation and inspiring storytelling) is that they've always been big on Animal Rights. You may notice that a few of their films, mainly the ones that feature animal characters, base the film around a certain animal commodity that they feel they need to spread awareness about. And they do so by reaching out to kids. Dumbo was the first, but not the last Disney film to do this. I won't list the other films just yet (but some of you may be able to guess some of them, there are currently seven that i know of).

Released in 1941, Dumbo was Disney's 4th animated feature. I trust that most of you know this story, so i won't bother explaining the plot. The very basic moral of this story is obviously 'believe in yourself' and that what you think is a huge flaw may in fact be a gift etc. But this film also explores the plight of circus elephants. And personally, i believe they portrayed the issue very well. Particularly when Dumbo's mother is chained in solitary confinement, after being condemned as dangerous because of an angry rampage after people made fun of her baby's big ears. The scene that followed became one of Disney's saddest moments in their history. The scene known as 'Baby Mine' where Dumbo is cradled by his captive mother through the bars of her prison, with tears running down his face (and the face of everyone else who watches this scene).

On a side note, i always wondered why Dumbo and his mother were the only characters that couldn't speak (except for Mrs. Jumbo's one line at the beginning). But i think i may have figured that out. This is just my opinion, but i think it's because they were trying to convey the message that animals suffer in silence, so Disney decided to mute the two characters that suffer the most in this film. I don't know, it's a thought. Let me know what you think about it.
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:iconvioletwhirlwind:
VioletWhirlwind Featured By Owner Edited Dec 15, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh gosh..."Baby Mine."  I'm tearing up just thinking about it.  That has to be one of THE. Saddest. Disney scenes/songs. Ever.  Moreso even than Mufasa's death.  I LOVE it for that.  (I am strange that way.)
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:iconnakuru-nebelung:
Nakuru-Nebelung Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2014
In fact as you say Dumbo's mum is not a mute character, she speaks at the beginning, and the song is kinda sung by her. I think she really doesn't need to speak anymore: her actions speak louder than her words.
Dumbo can't speak, yes, but ... he's a baby. I think they thought the plot was cuter and most innocent portraying him this way. But hey, those are just my thoughts!
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:iconboomheart900:
boomheart900 Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2014  Student General Artist
will you continue the series?
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:iconhallowpointpaws:
HallowpointPaws Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Ditto! 
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:iconcocochipoorocks:
CocoChipooRocks Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2014  Student General Artist
I love this piece and I agree with you when you talked about the possible message of how animals suffer in silence. 
I seriously detest animal circuses, and for that reason I've actually never liked this movie because it always upsets me ^^;
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:iconhebigami-okami-77:
Hebigami-Okami-77 Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2013  Student General Artist
To be honest, the silence of Dumbo and this mother I think was to show two things:

1. Their helplessness in the situation: no voice to back up or speak against those with louder voices who insist on reigning down on them.  It's to continuously feel empathy for them, and also because there are times when we ourselves are spoken over and shunned for not having that proper voice.  And,
2. Actions speak louder than words.  Some of the best scenes are invoked with little to no dialogue E.g. 3-Iron: it was a highly successful Korean movie about a travelling loner and a woman he rescued from domestic violence.  Though the woman is capable of talking, they have no dialogue exchanged between the both of them (save for the very end where she says one line).  Also, Timothy the mouse, though he spoke a lot, didn't just tell the other elephants to leave Dumbo alone, he ran in there and purposely made them feel frightened and scared as a sort of carrying out the threat of, "Mess with my friend, and you're gonna get it - I'm not joking." Dumbo's own learning to fly was a huge action that caused a big slap to the face - the elephant can't talk the talk, but he walks the walk.
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:iconangel-kazekage:
Angel-Kazekage Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2013
"Bongo...the bear in the guild-ed cage."
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:iconstarlioness:
Starlioness Featured By Owner Jul 25, 2013
talk I mean
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:iconstarlioness:
Starlioness Featured By Owner Jul 25, 2013
more empathy for the characters if they were silent? and yeah, that is heartbreaking..:(... 

but Dumbo is a baby.. he could when he's older.. 
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:iconflameshadow117:
Flameshadow117 Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
OMFG. You know how moving the "Baby Mine" scene is? I have not seen Dumbo in probably 10 years, and just *mentioning* that scene got me crying :XD:. Ugggggg with her trunk reaching through the bars, and the injustice of it all..... aaaaaahhhhhhhhh. 

They really did do awful stuff to elephants back then. I've even heard once case where disobedient elephants were executed in front of all the other elephants who were lined up and made to watch. O.o WTF?
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:iconred-vanguard:
Red-Vanguard Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2013
Hmmm
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:iconsombraluz-images:
Sombraluz-Images Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2012  Professional General Artist
Baby Mine always makes me cry, by the way. :tears:
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:iconsombraluz-images:
Sombraluz-Images Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2012  Professional General Artist
:clap:
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:icondragons-and-dreams:
Dragons-And-Dreams Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
First time I watched Dumbo it frightened but now im older I really LOVE the story.
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:icontheelegirl:
TheElegirl Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2013
Ditto.
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:iconmydlasfanart:
Mydlasfanart Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2012  Professional General Artist
I have buy the special edition and they put the pictures they used as references and circus they did go, and yes, Disney base some scene from real one, especially when elephant help build the marquee.
They wanted the story to stick to the reallity as much as they could, like the incredible lack of space for so much elephants, like what you mentionned but also, the way babies elephants are treathed during show and everything, they where seen as useless thing util they are adult. So maybe why Dumbo is pushed back and fort during the movie, poor boy.

I know it's based on a story, but still disney did exactly what it wanted with the movie :)
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:iconblazeheartpanther:
BlazeHeartPanther Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2012  Student General Artist
You provide a good point when you speak about why they don't "speak"

I love this film myself too. intact, on my top 20 disney animated films meme (not counting Pixar) Dumbo is my number one pick cause their is so much to this movie that makes it just perfect. I could go on about it, but now I shall critique the pic

This has to be the saddest pic of Dumbo Ive ever seen. what drew me to it when I was looking at Disney Baby characters was the chain on his foot. it is so depressing that I couldn't resist to take a look at it. You may have captured Dumbo's feeling perfectly through this visual aid. I am most impressed
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:iconbrazilianferalcat:
brazilianferalcat Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012   Artist
Cool!
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:iconriotgirlckb:
riotgirlckb Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
wow never thought about that but I completely agree I love it well done on picking this up :D
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:iconriotgirlckb:
riotgirlckb Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
so cute :D
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:icondoloandelectrik:
DoloAndElectrik Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
wow, I really love ur art and a I love wut u wrote! It all makes sense and I can't believe I never really looked at it like that. I'm excited to see wut other Disney movies u had in mind...-Shady
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:iconbrittanychayanne:
BrittanyChayanne Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2012
i wish i could put some long commment about how much i agree and how cruely animals can be treated, but i am honestly speechless at this point.
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:iconkjerya-copenhapen:
Kjerya-Copenhapen Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2012  Student General Artist
This is a very good interpretation of the whole film. It always bothered me as to why Dumbo was inacapable of speaking. Of course, this may have been just because he was a baby, but even so, many animals, like you say, usually suffer and are usually ignored by some people. The 'Baby Mine' scene still makes me cry like a leaky faucet to this very day. And the Bambi's Mother's Death scene? That's one of the many reasons why I'm so opposed to deer hunting and poaching. It destroys animal families and the lives of innocent animals who could have experienced a longer, happier life, only to usually be killed for sport or for a profit or luxury... :(

Yes, I think many of Disney's movies have an animal rights message to them, particularly Dumbo and Bambi. I want to see you keep making these, because they tug at those heart strings, yet make us think a lot about how animals suffer.
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:iconflameshadow117:
Flameshadow117 Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Bambi's mother's death scene was pretty tragic, but in most places there are laws that prohibit the shooting of does, at least during breeding season. Alot of places you can only shoot mature bucks. Not to mention-- some deer that get shot could have lived longer happier lives, but some of them could have gotten torn apart by coyotes in what would certainly be a more horrifying death than a well-aimed bullet. It's all relative when you're a prey animal :P
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:iconleylamarias:
LeylaMarias Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
We must also remember that we, as humans, are natural predators. This doesn't make any of this right. God gave use the animals to use, but in no way to abuse. We do need to hunt, but only for food. There are some places in the world where the best way to get healthy food is by hunting.
This does not, of course, rationalize poaching and hunting for sport. Poachers hunt for fur and other black market deals, and hunting for sport is just as bad. Those would fall under the lines of "abusing". 
:) (Smile) I do agree with you, but I just wanted ya'll to remember, we are part of this world, and we are predators. The animals were placed beneath us for a reason, and we are meant to be responsible for them, responsible being knowing when we need them for meat, and knowing when we have enough food, and knowing that we need to protect them with all we have from those who would abuse them in one way or another.
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:iconleylamarias:
LeylaMarias Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
We must also remember that we, as humans, are natural predators. This doesn't make any of this right. God gave use the animals to use, but in no way to abuse. We do need to hunt, but only for food. There are some places in the world where the best way to get healthy food is by hunting.
This does not, of course, rationalize poaching and hunting for sport. Poachers hunt for fur and other black market deals, and hunting for sport is just as bad. Those would fall under the lines of "abusing". 
:) I do agree with you, but I just wanted ya'll to remember, we are part of this world, and we are predators. The animals were placed beneath us for a reason, and we are meant to be responsible for them, responsible being knowing when we need them for meat, and knowing when we have enough food, and knowing that we need to protect them with all we have from those who would abuse them in one way or another.
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:iconberrysandcream:
berrysandcream Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Interesting about the animal rights stuff, and that is awesome! I am glad to hear Disney does that on purpose because I love Disney and I love animals, and im an animal rights activist!
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:iconwickedphoenix93:
wickedphoenix93 Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Very thought-provoking concept, and I love your rendering of Dumbo -- he's so cute and I just want to cuddle him <3
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:icongoblindreamer:
GoblinDreamer Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2012
Dumbo has always been one of the most emotional Disney movies. I think your art really represents all the emotions surrounding the movie. I never really thought of their silence representing that before, but it really does make sense!
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:iconkuabci:
kuabci Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2012  Professional Filmographer
This is a nice piece of art, but I think you're assigning traits and intentions behind this movie that aren't there. There is sadness in this film, but no more so than in other Disney animated films that do or do not feature animals. Also, Mrs. Jumbo does speak (only a line or two, but still). I believe the real reason behind the muteness of those characters was to employ the true art of animation, giving life to a drawing, and doing almost 100% of the acting without even dialogue. There are definitely deeper meanings to Disney's films, but I don't believe this is one of them. :/ (Especially when you do a little research and learn about some of the things the Disney animation studios did regarding animals that animal rights activists would NEVER allow today.)
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:iconbirdvision:
BirdVision Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
poor Dumbo :cries:
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:iconallthestuffilike94:
Allthestuffilike94 Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Very interesting concept! I never would've thought of it that way!
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:iconjessiestory:
jessiestory Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I like your view on this. I personally never thought of that aspect, I tend to enjoy some movies without really diving deeper into any real meaning.
I will say though, that Mrs. Jumbo isn't completely silent. In the beginning, she tells the stork Dumbo's real name (Jumbo Jr.), but that's the only line she has. But your right about sufffering in silence. That seems to be another recurring theme in Disney movies...
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:iconmightymorphinpower4:
MightyMorphinPower4 Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2012
Aw adoreable one of Dumbo here poor Dumbo
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:iconwahyawolf:
wahyawolf Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Wonderful piece; I can't wait to see what else you have in mind for this new series! I can't watch Dumbo without crying...especially the Baby Mine scene. I can't even listen to that song without crying. I'm gonna guess 101 Dalmatians is on the list of movies, clearly Cruella De'ville is the worst animal abuser in the history of Disney villains. :p But come to think of it...Pongo and Perdy should have been spayed and neutered! :XD: I know, that'd give us no movie...but yeah. Spay and neuter your pets, cartoon Disney people! =p I'm also gonna guess Fox and the Hound and Lady and the Tramp (especially the shelter scene) would be on this list. But again with Lady and the Tramp, they let them have puppies - they could have adopted those dogs from the shelter instead! :roll: :shakefist: Anyways...it's almost 1 am and I'm on a ramble. Again, amazing art and message as always! :D
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:iconnostalgicchills:
NostalgicChills Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you very much! and well done! you guessed three out of seven of the films i'm going to explore (although i won't give away the rest)and yeah they really should have been neutered/spayed lol!
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:icondmwcool1:
dmwcool1 Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2012
One of my favorite films. I believe they were also silent because Walt wanted the audience to feel their thoughts and relate to them without obvious dialouge. Visual pathos and certain behaviors are things that people of all ages can comprehend and perhaps in terms of story telling, he wanted his movie watchers to connect in that way and have the same outlook on humanity as a whole and how it was presented in this film.

It's late and I'm rambling...
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:iconili-chan:
ili-chan Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I think you overanalyse this whole movie. I'd love to think that Disney might have had an ulterior motive but I honestly doubt it. And the thing about them not talking and suffering in silence is even more over the top. Sure we can infer these things now, and it would be a good study if one were to write an analysis about it, but unless you have written proof from those who made the movie I seriously doubt they had any of what you said in mind when making it.

What other Disney movies do you think have overt animal rights issues imbeded in them?
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:iconnostalgicchills:
NostalgicChills Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
i respect your opinion, but i stand by what i said. Disney is more than capable of imbedding subtle messages in their films. And if you don't think so then, why a sad story on circus elephants? Why not something more cheerful since it's directed at kids? do you proof that it wasn't their intention? i'm just saying it's possible.
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:iconili-chan:
ili-chan Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Well I just wiki'd the movie. 'Dumbo is based upon the storyline written by Helen Aberson'. I am actually surprised that it is based on someone elses story and not an original. I guess we would have to look at the original story and see if the way the circus animals were portrayed in it is the same way that it is portrayed in Dumbo to see if Disney put their own spin on things. And we would also have to see what Helen Abersons agenda for the story was to gauge properly where she was coming from.

I think your view is skewed. The story is meant to be uplifting. About a kid that gets made fun of but who has a remarkable ability that, in the end, gives him enormous amounts of respect. It isn't a sad story at all, but it has sad parts, sad parts focusing more on the mother/child bond, rather than enslavement of elephants.

That scene was one of my favourite scenes in the movie though. But it never made me think of the plight of the animals in a circus. If we were to talk about Happy Feet on the other hand... that resonated with me about the terrible double edged sword of animals living in zoon.

As for Dumbo... in the end it doesn't matter what Disneys intention is, I suppose. It still got us talking about the plight of circus animals.
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:iconnostalgicchills:
NostalgicChills Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
oh i didn't know that it was based on a story either. And yes i know that the very basic moral of the story was 'believe in yourself' and that being different isn't a bad thing etc. i know all that, i just think that the plight of circus elephants may have been a side message.
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:iconblazeheartpanther:
BlazeHeartPanther Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2012  Student General Artist
Dumbo was originally a book that was made to be what was called a role-a-way book ( I think) and their defiantly some things different about it. Timothy was not a mouse, it was originally a bird with a different name.
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:iconithaswhatitisnt:
ithaswhatitisnt Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
This is true! I did an entire speech on animal cruelty in the circus...good for Disney, and this is the great start of a beautiful series! Keep up the good work!
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