Sunday, April 26, 2009

"Out of Scale"

It's been reported at times that Walt Disney had a lifelong fascination with railroading. This is probably not true; even though Disney used the rails as his usual method of continental transporaton in the early years, it was most likely because trains were the only realistic means of coast-to-coast transportation rather than Disney's passion or preference. Railroading doesn't even show up as a major theme in Disney's short cartoons until Mickey goes on vacation in the 1940 short "Mr. Mouse Takes a Trip" and then later in 1950's "The Brave Engineer." If anything, Ollie Johnston and Ward Kimball were the real train buffs in the Disney studio.

Regardless, sometime in the 50's, Disney found a real passion in railroading, one of his many passing fancies, going so far as to built a small scale railroad in his backyard which he can be seen riding and showing off to friends in some photographs of the era. This backyard railroad is obviously the inpsiration for the 1953 short "Out of Scale."

Donald has his own backyard train set and is anal about measuring everything, making sure everthing matches the scale he has setup. When the tree that Chip 'n' Dale live in proves to be too big, he finds he has to get rid of it, leaving the two chipmunks to find other living arrangements. Luckily, the village that Donald has set up as part of his train set proves to be exactly the right size for them. Or, to Donald's view, that they are the right size for it.

For a while things go swimmingly, Donald even providing food for them thinking they're such a cute addition to the village. But, he just can't resist having a bit of fun, using heat lamps to simulate summer and soap flakes to simulate winter. Eventually Chip 'n' Dale get tired of this and decide to head back to their old digs, hijacking Donald's train in the process with their old tree as cargo. Happily, the two decide that it's a giant sequoia, showing that it fits to scale in Donald's world anyway. The ending irony is that the only thing that is out of scale in Donald's world is Donald himself.

I like this short for a few different reason. Many visitors who have been reading here for a while know that I don't really care for Donald Duck too much. But it's nice to see shorts (like this, and the later short with Spike the Bee "Let's Stick Together") where Donald's antagonists didn't so much get the upper hand, but were able to come to a mutually beneficial solution to their problems.

2 comments:

Richie said...

...Oh my. I love that observation on how Donald himself is the only one out of scale within his world. Never noticed it before, and I love irony, darn it. This could lead to a philosophical thought on me...By this point, the 50´s, most of Donald´s shorts were becoming standard chase cartoons, placing him against the foil of the week, usually a small animal. But in Donald´s early outings, he was capable of so much more. Commando Duck, Officer Duck, Donald´s Lucky Day, The Autograph Hound, Duck Pimples...There was much more variety on storylines. And here, in this short, Donald wants his world to be on scale, but Donald himself is too big for this world. Equally, he was too big and had potential for bigger storylines. But he was confined on this small world of his, where he wanted everything to be on place, while being out of place himself. I know I read too fricking much on it, and I'm proud of it.

I too, prefer shorts where Donald´s enemies reached on an agreement, even if a VERY few quantity of those were produced. On the other side, "Bee at the beach" is probably the most sadistic short Disney ever produced...

And congratz on your marriage, my friend! May you two have exciting experiences in the intrepid adventure of a loving matrimony!

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