Flowers and Trees (1932) Poster

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Fun bit of weirdness
utgard1431 July 2016
Disney's first Silly Symphonies cartoon made with three-strip Technicolor is a trippy bit of business that won the first Oscar for animated short. Basically the plot to the cartoon is that the trees, flowers, mushrooms, and forest creatures are all exercising and dancing and whatever when a fight breaks out between two male trees over a female tree. Yeah I just typed that. From there things get even weirder as we get arson, bird rainmakers, and a character burning to death! It's bizarre but in an awesome way. The animation is excellent for its time. The Technicolor pops as much today as I would imagine it did when it was first released. Disney has really done a marvelous job at maintaining and restoring their old cartoons. The music is upbeat and cheerful. It's a charming old short that's just offbeat enough to appeal even to today's audiences, I think. By the way, early in the short when the mushrooms first pop up through the ground, take notice of what they look like and tell me the animators didn't slide a little dirty joke in there.
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Disney's first Technicolor cartoon.
classicsoncall7 July 2016
Warning: Spoilers
So impressed was the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with this animated film that they created an award for it - Best Cartoon Short Subject! From the standpoint of present day this eight minute gem doesn't appear that sensational but it was pretty impressive for it's time. This was one of Walt Disney's 'Silly Symphonies', which came to be a training ground of sorts for his artists until the studio developed into feature length animated films. I'd say they were a fairly creative unit.

The cable listing for this picture stated that it was about a young sapling that falls in love with a sycamore tree. I don't know that I would have figured out the sycamore part on my own, 'he' looked like just about any other tree you could come up with. There's a villain here in the form of a gnarly old tree stump who tries to steal the sweetheart tree from the sycamore. He starts a forest fire which seemed like overkill to me, but it did lead to another creative element when a flock of birds formed a cloud seeding operation to douse the fire.

I've recorded a few more Silly Symphonies from the Turner Classics channel, and based on this cartoon I'll be looking forward to watching the rest. The passage of over eighty years hasn't diminished their entertainment value as they're a treat for young and old alike.
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close to visual poetry as animated films of the period can get
MisterWhiplash2 September 2015
It can be said simply enough but should bare repeating that without a work like Flowers & Trees, Snow White would have been much harder to make. While that film doesn't take all its cues from this Silly Symphony about the good tree, his lovely lady tree, and the villainous tree coming between them, I think the music cues and how the creatures of the forest all come together is a major part of it. Disney's moves in this classical period - hell, up through the early 40's - had the hallmarks of being musical-filmed pieces, synchronized to sound with the tightest detail. But within these to-the-beat markers, there are the graceful nuances of visual poetry on screen: here are creatures and plant-life coming to life, acting as people do in such ways as to make them universal. You can watch this film anywhere over the world and people get what's going on; same was with Mickey Mouse, though here the aim is more to inspire some kind of awe over laughs.

One can criticize this stuff - it's pretentious, it's full of itself, it thinks its so great. But what if it is just a splendid piece of artistic expression? There's a level of simplicity that I think found its way into a lot of those early Disney features, and the bedrock of that is here: no frills storytelling, clever visual flourishes, and here it borders on gags but one can take it a little more seriously. It's also the forerunner for Fantasia, of course; taking a piece (or in this case pieces) of classical music and finding a way to basically make the earliest films full of life and vitality - in brand-spankingly fresh Technicolor (and good lord does it look full of the synonyms you can think of for gorgeous).

It's not simply one of the superlative shorts of all time but one of the great music 'videos', with a fleshed-out story, conflicts and danger with the fire that spreads (and the teamwork to put it out), and the sentimental side, but wholly and expressed with passionate audacity to go for it. There's not a trace of a modern smirk or wink to the audience, no one is being talked or looked down on, and that's part of the purity: here's the trees, here's the flowers, here's the birds, here are the things that make up this crazy little world that Disney's created. It's what it is: beauty realized in a new way that, for those that can take it in some context, heartfelt.
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Let it rain
Warning: Spoilers
This is a Walt Disney Silly Symphony cartoon from almost 85 years ago and it was the one that won Disney his very first Academy Award. Funnily enough, one of the two people he beat was himself with another entry. Most have been a good year. anyway, in these 7 minutes we see flowers and trees as the title tells us, but a lot more than that, for example mushrooms, but mostly all kinds of animals. There are some fairly frequent motives in here. Good vs. evil, a love story between two trees and the fight for survival. For the latter, they used a massive fire here, but the plants are lucky that massive amounts of rain pour down right on time. This one is really delightful to watch. The characters were designed with so much heart and their interactions are witty and creative. In terms of the story, this is probably not one of Disney's greatest achievements, but it's still a thrilling watch at times. The music is pretty nice as well. I enjoyed watching this and recommend it.
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Plants and weeds
Shawn Watson3 September 2013
A bunch of sentient trees, who you might sort of recognize from Toontown, and some flowers awaken on a sunny meadow and begin their daily ritual. As with most Silly Symphonies is all set to the timing of the music, but as an animation showcase it is still rather impressive by modern standards. The world the plants inhabit is very pretty and bright, and the characterization is amusing.

I was hoping that the fire effects might lead to something like the Bald Mountain segment of Fantasia but it never really gets that far. Still one of the better Silly Symphonies and notable for a bizarre scene in which two trees get married (they fade out before the tree love-making).
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A beautiful animated vision of harmonious nature working together. Just lovely.
Foreverisacastironmess10 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Wow, this is the first cartoon ever to be in colour and the first to get an Oscar. What a great landmark in animation history. I can definitely see why it earned such an award, I thought every moment was wonderful. I love this Silly Symphony. To me, certain earlier entries in the series such as the black and white Springtime and some of the more vibrant entries of the seasons themed shorts, while all having their good points, were very poor and severely hampered by the lack of colour. To me it's like they took what was best about all those somewhat failures and put it all together to make this beauty. It never bored me. I know exactly what Silly Symphonies I've found to be terrible and dated and this one definitely does not rank among them. I can see that they must have reused some of the ideas of the living flowers to much better effect later on with Alice in Wonderland. The only thing I didn't really like was the romance part of it. I felt that the whole damsel in distress thing was old.(maybe not then!) I thought that the alluring burlesque girl tree's "hair" made her look a bit like the Bride of Frankenstein! Anyway, I thought living trees were quite interesting and special enough on their own without needing any lovey- dovey stuff thrown in. But at eight minutes I guess there had to something for the tale to center on. Upon seeing the trees I immediately thought of the apple-tossing meanies from The Wizard of Oz! There's only one baddie in this though. Sometimes with these shorts, while most of them not directly being fairy tales, they do have themes and elements of classic fairy tales in them, and some of this one reminded me a little bit of the Brave Little Tin Soldier-with the evil jealous dead tree in place of the jack in the box. Hey, with ferns like that, who needs anemones!(ha-ha) I actually felt a bit sorry for the one bad tree, I thought it was mildly shocking when he lies dead at the end, killed by his own hubris as it were! Goodness, Disney sure played hardball way back in those more "innocent" times didn't they! I thought a much nicer and more memorable way to go would have been if the character would have been cured of his wickedness somehow, and made to look like the rest of the trees. But that's probably just me. I thought the owl that acted as a fire siren looked just like the same stupid owl from The Skeleton Dance. I like animated features that are all about nature, and I thought the whole theme of nature and of having it as the main star was a concept that they executed just beautifully. May it be evergreen forever. P.S. If you loved this I highly recommend a Merry Melody called The Blue Danube.
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Considering when it was made, it is still a beautifully-animated unforgettable gem.
TheLittleSongbird14 July 2009
The first Silly Symphony to to be made in Technicolour, Flowers and Trees remains my favourite of the Silly Symphonies. It has a certain charm that is almost irresistible. Flowers and Trees is beautifully animated, with vibrant colours, and considering when it was made, I was most impressed. The characters, although they never speak, are very lovable, especially the Mushrooms. Even the evil tree stump was an engaging character in his own right. The music was wonderfully lyrical, and reminded me of the sort of music you'll find in a ballet. It was so charming and pleasant, it plays a significant role in justifying the undeniable charm of this gem. The story is very simple, and is fairly unrealistic, but everything else that is so good, more than compensate, and it is meant to be silly. The result is a beautiful and imaginative short, with a 10/10. Bethany Cox.
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Gotta love them mushrooms!
MartinHafer2 September 2008
This is one of many so-called "Silly Symphonies" that Walt Disney Pictures made in the 30s and they were very, very popular. Given how much cartoons have changed, this film wouldn't play nearly as well today as it did then. Cartoons in the 30s tended to be rather schmaltzy and lacked the insane humor and pacing of classic cartoons of the 40s and 50s. Remember that at the time this film was made, Bugs Bunny, Tom & Jerry (the MGM ones--not the earlier series by the same name) and Tex Avery's shenanigans were still in the future. So, while audiences in later years might have been a bit put off by the style of film that FLOWERS AND TREES represent, in its time it was big...real big. Big enough to earn an Oscar as Best Animated Short.

The film consists of classical style music accompanying scenes of anthropomorphic (people-like) trees and flowers dancing, frolicking and eventually being attacked by the dreaded fire. As I said, most of it very sappy but I did like the adorable mushrooms (Disney seemed to have a knack for this--see FANTASIA for more great mushrooms). However, the artwork is tops for the time and it is diverting. It's also the first three-color Technicolor short to win the Oscar--but it's also very old fashioned and will probably bore many viewers.
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The first full colour cartoon.
Mightyzebra11 June 2008
This is worth watching - only if you are over 14. I do not recommend this cartoon for anyone under that age. It is slightly disturbing (especially for young people) and I do not think they would find it interesting anyhow.

People over 14, this is a delight to watch. This is basically a very old cartoon where there are trees and plants leaving their roots (literally) and moving around, creating a storyline. You will have to see at least a little snippet of this cartoon to understand what I mean. The animation and music is very beautiful, some of the storyline is very beautiful as well.

Basically the whole cartoon is about two trees falling in love. The girl tree resembles a 1930's posh "lady". There is a horrible, evil gnarled tree who tries to capture her, but the slightly dopey looking tree will not let him have her...

This is one of a great amount of cartoons called "Silly Symphonies". This is, almost beyond doubt, the most beautiful and heartwarming collection of cartoon shorts ever made (they were all made by Disney around the time this was made). I recommend you watch at least one of them, as far as I know they are all worth watching.

I recommend this to people who are interested in historical cartoons and who like something a little different (infact - a LOT different!). Enjoy "Flowers and Trees"! :-)
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Even after almost 70 years, it's an incredible piece of art!
Robert Reynolds3 January 2001
This won the very first Academy Award given for animated short and even after close to 69 years, it is still a marvel to behold. It quite justifiably won its praise at the time and is one of Disney's high points. Everything about this is excellent: story, music, characterization, plot, layout, visuals-everything! Periodically, this is run on the Ink and Paint Club on the Disney Channel and should be out on video. Apparently the powers that make the decisions for The Mouse don't see a point in releasing shorts on home video. Such a shame to have such remarkable material out of circulation. *sigh* The winner, on points. Most highly recommended.
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Disney's Very Colorful Tale
Ron Oliver17 October 2000
A Walt Disney SILLY SYMPHONY Cartoon Short.

One beautiful Spring morning, the FLOWERS AND TREES awake to rise & shine. Two young trees, swept away by leafy bliss, carry on an arboreal romance which is threatened by the arrival of an evil-hearted old stump...

This cartoon has a cute little story, but its significance lies in the fact that it was the first cartoon produced in Technicolor. Walt had cannily entered into an exclusive contract for the use of the procedure, only the latest of a string of risky innovations he would brave. Technicolor proved to be a sensation, and FLOWERS AND TREES pointed the way to the future. It would be three more years before Mickey Mouse took the Technicolor plunge - his films were so profitable he didn't need to abandon black & white just yet - but eventually virtually all cartoons would appear in one of a handful of competing color processes.

The SILLY SYMPHONIES, which Walt Disney produced for a ten year period beginning in 1929, are among the most fascinating of all animated series. Unlike the Mickey Mouse cartoons in which action was paramount, with the Symphonies the action was made to fit the music. There was little plot in the early Symphonies, which featured lively inanimate objects and anthropomorphic plants & animals, all moving frantically to the soundtrack. Gradually, however, the Symphonies became the school where Walt's animators learned to work with color and began to experiment with plot, characterization & photographic special effects. The pages of Fable & Fairy Tale, Myth & Mother Goose were all mined to provide story lines and even Hollywood's musicals & celebrities were effectively spoofed. It was from this rich soil that Disney's feature-length animation was to spring. In 1939, with SNOW WHITE successfully behind him and PINOCCHIO & FANTASIA on the near horizon, Walt phased out the SILLY SYMPHONIES; they had run their course & served their purpose.
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