Silly Symphonies

film 41 of 61

Water Babies

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jul 6, 2015

This one is lovely! Significantly, it’s another of a number in the series that is pretty completely lacking in conflict. That one bullfrog looks like he’s going to up the melodramatic ante, but then it turns out he’s just trying to enhance the experience for everyone.

Beautiful backgrounds, lots of business but not too busy. This being Disney there are hilariously too many bottom gags (watch the kid swimming with his dorsal fins sticking out of the water). In fact, save for maybe Peter Greenaway’s Prospero’s Books, this has got to be about the bummiest movie ever made.

Beyond, more than that, it’s sweet! The babies in the flowers are very pretty, and the conclusion, in which they all return to retire and to pray, is positively moving.

Note that this is not really or barely an adaptation of Charles Kingley’s crazy, contradictory, fascinating 1863 novel, The Water-Babies. It’s a milestone, but so much less cited than so many of its Golden Age (of children’s literature) contemporaries. Film, including this one, hasn’t done it right yet. I wonder …