Silly Symphonies

film 28 of 61

The Pied Piper

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jul 6, 2015

Remember when we were talking about Lullaby Land? This one is even worse. This piper pipes the kids away so they won’t grow up like their terrible parents, and gets to the mountain which suddenly opens up to reveal Toyland, Toyland. Even the crippled boy enters, healed, and no one ever looks back. “Happy forever and ever in childhood paradise.” Demonizing the adults, idealizing the kids, and concluding that the best solution is never to grow up at all. And why’s that? So they’ll keep buying Disney paraphernalia?

I have an old associate who has racked up 4500 rides—and counting—on Radiator Springs Racers, at Disney’s California Adventure theme park. (Again, where’s that trade mark key?) He’s in his mid or late 50s now. He has a job, but this is most of what he communicates to the outside world. Radiator Springs Racers (™) seems to be a lot of, maybe most of what he thinks about. He makes up little milestone posters, and gets a lot of pictures taken with the people who work at the park. They all seem pretty happy together, putting their thumbs up and smiling.

My old associate is not the point here. God bless him, and good luck to all of us. But does anyone else see a problem here? We will probably return to this little conversation …

Unlike Lullaby Land, The Pied Piper doesn’t try very hard to ingratiate itself with the people who are paying for admission to see it! Note that the townsmen are Europeans, and the piper has an American accent. Disney does that over and over again, as part of a general, possibly subconscious strategy by which mostly European folk tales are colonized by the US. Think I’m straining? Read Collodi, then watch Pinocchio again …

Man, what a bilious review! Let’s get on with it, shall we? What, I ask, enables the piper, or the tune he plays, to do such magical things? The film doesn’t find an interesting, fanciful, plausible answer to the question. There has to be a symbolic something behind the otherwise plot point. C’mon! Establish some kind of a position on, some kind of an angle into your material!

The rats are really nicely presented, and their banana distribution system is quite ingenious. (Yes, that’s weird, but also ingenious.) So that’s good. But this isn’t. Instead of drowning those rats, our filmmakers have them disappear into a giant cheese. How gutless! No light without darkness! Here come’s Disney Corporatism! Actually, here the biggest thing, at this juncture. You can only thank goodness for the impending, consistently badly behaved Warner Brothers animators.