The Four Musicians of Bremen (1922)
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"The Four Musicians of Bremen", like most of the Kansas City Disneys, is based on a European folktale ... in this case, the one about the four animals of Bremen (led by a donkey) who decide to "sing" but who have terrible voices. The cartoon is quite faithful to the original story, although slightly jazzed up for American audiences of the 1920s. Since the raucous animal noises made by the "musicians" are crucial to the plot (and to the comedy), it's unfortunate that this is a silent movie.
Wherever possible here (and in all his Kansas City films), Disney resorts to "lazy" animation. At the climax of "The Four Musicians of Bremen", a swarm of bees chase four soldiers, who run together in a cluster (as if they were all glued to each other) so that they can be animated as a single unit (with repeating animation cels) rather than as distinct characters. The bees keep stinging the soldier in the centre of the cluster, who keeps jumping out of the group and then jumping back in again. Because the soldiers at the edge of the cluster never get stung, they never move away from the cluster ... and Disney can keep cycling the same animation cels for the entire sequence. It would be more believable (and funnier) if the bees stung each one of the soldiers in turn, but then the soldiers at the edge of the cluster would have to move individually ... which would be more expensive to animate. I find this sort of cheapjack animation very annoying: it's something that Disney moved away from very quickly, yet this "lazy" animation technique turned up again almost forty years later in the "Flintstones" cartoons. While I was watching "The Four Musicians of Bremen", I kept expecting to see the bees chase the soldiers past one tree ... the same tree, over and over and over. You know the tree I mean: the one that shows up in the background of every bottom-of-the-barrel cartoon (including the "Flintstones") when the characters pass the same tree every three seconds.
"The Four Musicians of Bremen" is interesting as an early example of Walt Disney's work - one of the very few examples of his OWN work - but it's not very funny and it certainly isn't attractive to look at.