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A baby squirrel asks his grandfather to tell him what happened to all the men. The old squirrel reveals that all the humans were killed years ago in a terrible war. The surviving animals started a new society, based on the lessons taught in the Bible. Written by
It was awful. It was terrible. Why, they fought and they fought and they fought, until... until there was only two of them left.
[each soldier shoots the other and goes down]
And that was the end of the last man on Earth.
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Back in the 1940's, men fought a cataclysmic war until all were killed, leaving the animals behind to build a peaceful society in the ruins.
This has probably the strongest impact of any cartoon I have ever seen -- taking the era in which it was made into account -- and must have been virtually without precedent in 1939. Powerful post-war rivals might include "Animal Farm", "Watership Down", or "When the Wind Blows". Or Art Spiegelman's Pulitzer Prize-winning "Maus" in the field of the graphic novel.
There are scenes here of animated warfare which are still a little grim by modern standards. Childlike innocence gets temporarily suspended. "All Quiet on the Western Front" is an immediate comparison.
As was normal in the '30's, the coming war in Europe was viewed as an extension of the Great War, so we see the technology familiar from 20 years previous -- trenches, gas masks, unturreted tanks. When Neville Chamberlain bought peace for all time from Hitler at Munich, the sort of war he had succeeded in averting was the one depicted in this film. The new World War II technology did not enter the general consciousness until the averted war got underway in Sept. 1939.
I first saw this film about a decade ago, and rediscovered it recently on a compilation video entitled "MGM Cartoon Christmas". The other cartoons on the tape, "Alias St. Nick" and "Pups' Christmas", show quite clearly what a break with convention "Peace on Earth" was at the time.
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