Silly Symphonies

film 27 of 61

Lullaby Land

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jul 6, 2015

A muddle. Quite nicely designed, and executed. Really condescending to children! Are they thinking about their alleged audience? Do they know it? Disney/”Disney” have been at it for quite a while now, and they’ve certainly put out a ton of product. Still, at the same time, these are still early days. Have they figured everything out yet? (Have I? Fair question!)

Beyond the bright colours and a couple of nice little grace notes, I don’t see why kids would want to see this one. (“Rock-a-bye Baby” is a very strange song, by the way.) The quilted landscape diminishing in the distance is nice. But then all sorts of reassuring lullabye stuff gives way suddenly to this amazing nightmare land, full of things that can kill the baby! I guess it’s a bit like that boys’ town in Pinocchio, except that at a length of only seven minutes, Lullaby Land can’t absorb or get over the sour didacticism of this threatening interlude. Even though, especially since those ladies on the soundtrack are singing so soothingly and naggingly.

And then they nearly set baby on fire! The flames that get extinguished and turn into blackface bogeymen provide some respite. Their dance is kind of Pink Elephants-like. We’re real suckers for that one. It’s probable that this interlude isn’t just teaching heavy-handed lessons, but also providing narrative conflict (cf. The Bird Store, etc.). Plus which you could really see the writers grappling with this question, and maybe concluding that unless it’s a Christmas piece, cartoons with no conflict just don’t last long enough.

Finally the baby succeeds in escaping from all of this jeopardy, though he only escapes to even more condescension, what with the Sandman always knowing best, and positively scoffing at the youngster’s efforts to make his own plan and be his own man. Making too much of it? Maybe it’s just the core of that Sandman idea after all, which is that the child didn’t want to go to bed even though he was tired.

Sorry about all that, but sometimes these films make you feel fractious!