Wednesday, January 29, 2014

"Get A Horse" (2013) - "Newly Found" Classic Short

Mickey and Minnie Return in "Get A Horse"

Get a Horse Mickey Mouse Minnie Mouse Peg Leg Pete
Villain Peg Leg Pete confronts Mickey and Minnie Mouse in a cart driven by Horace Horsecollar.
"Get A Horse" is the short that has been showing in theaters before Disney's "Frozen." It is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short, and is quite popular with audiences. Some, though, may not really understand what is going on with it, because it purports to be an old-style cartoon, but obviously isn't old at all. It involves a villain in a fancy new motorcar chasing Mickey and Minnie Mouse in a cart being pulled by Horace Horsecollar.

Though you may not notice because he is used to promote the Disney theme parks so extensively, Mickey Mouse rarely appears in Disney animation films these days. This is a rare star turn for the old warrior, and it's a good one.

The short was the brainchild of director Lauren MacMullan, with assistance from producer Dorothy McKim. MacMullan was an independent animator who sold the idea to the Disney brass as an homage to Disney's own glorious past. Not a bad marketing idea, eh?

"Get a Horse" incorporates the archived voice of Walt Disney himself. It is a parable on changing technologies, though in this case the old manages to win out over the new - at least for the moment. The underlying theme is "new isn't necessarily better unless used with style and grace."

As the director says:
"Horse wins over Pete in the car because Horse and Mickey combined are more inventive, and Pete just has power. I think the takeaway would probably be invention rules, and being inventive and inventive is a good thing, even if it’s a mix of old and new."  
The animation is in classic hand-drawn style, the 1928 "rubber hose" style." Thus, black lines surround just about everything and it is black and white. However, it doesn't stay that way throughout, which gives the short its punch.

The car horn pounds home the theme, saying "make way for the future." As MacMullan says about that:
"I thought it was a nice little precursor, maybe you start thinking a little early, this is a bit odd that we’re hearing this. But it is also about every era even in 1928 was an era of change. The horse was giving way to the auto and now maybe 2D is giving way to CG, but I don’t think one is better than the other."
The title refers to the old jibe directed by horse-lovers to the encroaching automobile users when the fancy mechanical contraptions caused inconvenience (much like people now say "get a room."). The animation changes to CG color and 3D, so the short serves as a pseudo-historical document all its own, chronicling the original and current state of animation. It is intriguing that Disney has had its own issues about transitioning between hand-drawn animation and CGI, with at least one backtrack in that regard so far.

"Get a Horse!" CG Animation Reel - Andrew Chesworth from Andrew Chesworth on Vimeo.


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