Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Barnyard Battle - April 25, 1929

The Barnyard Battle is Mickey's 7th cartoon and one that Minnie does not appear in at all. The film is one of the more enjoyable for me because it's very rooted in history and is essentially a time capsule. The battle that occurs in the barnyard takes much inspiration from World War I, and the animators must have felt close to that source. Walt Disney especially was fascinated by WWI (having served as an ambulance driver in France), and he no doubt was very involved with the toon's production.

The cartoon opens with Mickey visiting the recruitment office in order to enlist in the Mouse Army. The fact that Mickey is cast as a soldier really establishes his everyman quality that he is so famous for today. Audiences at the time, especially war veterans, must have been able to relate well to the mouse because they were seeing him in familiar situations. The key to Mickey's success was (and is) his large amount of tangibility to the audience.

It also helped that Walt Disney wanted to make his character a funny and amusing one with jokes such as the above pop-gun.

The enemy of the Mice is naturally the Cat Army. Made up entirely of Pete's extended family, the Cats are gruesome characters clearly meant to represent the Germans from WWI.

Taking a look at the battle itself, we can see the Cats and Mice engaging in trench warfare. This is yet another inspiration taken from WWI.

Though the toon deals with war, there are plenty of fun gags present. My favorite is this one involving Mickey and a machine gun. When he runs out of bullets, Mickey substitutes piano keys instead which wreak havoc on the Cats while playing a catchy tune.

Once again we see a design mistake on another mouse that is not Mickey. The bandleader is sporting Mickey's trademark buttoned shorts.

In the end, Mickey single-handedly defeats the Cats by bopping them on the head and throwing them into a pile of defeat.

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