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The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met More at IMDbPro »Willie the Operatic Whale (original title)

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

The whale you love to hate

Author: Chester-24 from Ridgefield WA
7 May 2002

This movie was interesting. When I first started watching it, i had no idea what was going to happen. Then it started getting good. It was ridiculous but thats half the fun of animation. The ending comes a big shock to all so get the tissues ready. The whale just couldn't fit in with the human world. No matter how wonderful his voice was. I think he would of been happier in the ocean with his seagull friend. Over all a pretty good cartoon.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

"Willie's singing was a miracle and people aren't used to miracles."

Author: utgard14 from USA
29 September 2014

Originally part of the movie Make Mine Music, this cartoon was released later on its own as a theatrical short. This is a showcase for Nelson Eddy, who does the narration, voices of the characters, and all the singing. The story is about a whale named Willie that is heard singing by the crew of a ship at sea. As reports spread about Willie, opera impresario Tetti-Tatti is convinced the singing is actually coming from an opera singer the whale must have swallowed. He sets out to hunt and kill Willie to prove this. What follows is a bittersweet and somewhat allegorical story with a surprisingly dark end. It's a good cartoon with nice animation and impressive vocals from Eddy. Not sure how the ending will play for little ones, though.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

This was the cartoon that introduced me to opera, and I have never forgotten it!

Author: TheLittleSongbird from United Kingdom
23 June 2009

When I was 8 or so, I used to watch Willie the Operatic Whale a lot and loved it. I am 17 now, and watching it again, brings back all those good memories. The cartoon is very short, but is so sweet and charming you can't help but like it. I absolutely love anything to do with classical music, and would love to train to be a singer in a few years time, and this cartoon was the one where I drew my inspiration from. The animation is really lovely considering it was made in 1946, especially Willie in heaven, and Nelson Eddy, from films such as the Chocolate Soldier, narrates with feeling and passion, and sang the soundtrack wonderfully. The story, is simple, about a whale who sings opera with three voices tenor, baritone and bass, and there are attempts to kill Willie, as people think he swallowed an opera singer, and in the end he does get killed and that was sad. The ending was really sad, seeing that seagull like that, made me want to reach into the television and hug him. I think the real star was the music, wonderful choices, from the hilarious Largo Al Factotum from Barber of Seville, Mephistopheles' terrifying aria from Mephistophele, the sextet from Lucia Di Lamemoor(a beautiful piece too) and a duet from Wagner's masterpiece Tristan and Isolde. Overall, a beautiful cartoon, that has made me appreciate classical music more over the years. 10/10 Bethany Cox.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Best kids' introduction to opera

Author: smeyer52-2 from United States
9 August 2008

I was introduced to opera at 6 years age listening repeatedly to the 78 RPM 3 disk recording of this magnificent Disney production. I never saw the video until I was 40 years old. It is a charming and exciting animation that will captivate young children. I forgot about opera by 9 years age until I accidentally heard the sextet from Lucia di Lammermoor at college and immediately recognized Willie. I fell in love with grand opera all over again at that moment and pushed aside my rock and pop collections.

Music from Barber of Seville (Rossini), Lucia di Lammermoor (Donizetti), Pagliacci (Leoncavallo), Mephistofiles (Boito), Tristan und Isolde (Wagener), Martha (Flotow), possibly other I do not recognize.

Play it to your children. Wean them with it, and one day they will remember.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Amazingly beautiful.

Author: Mightyzebra from Scotland
19 June 2008

As a tiny child, I liked this, but found it incredibly sad. Now, I still enjoy it, for many reasons. It is a fifteen minute cartoon to love and treasure. It has a fun, quite exciting storyline, cute Disney animation, good opera and the emotion and the warmness this creates in your heart are incredibly good as well.

The cartoon starts with newspaper headings - and continues with quite a few of these every now and again. Someone has heard someone singing way out to sea and eventually someone finds the singing is coming from a whale. The professors and ordinary people are baffled, until one scientist makes his last decision, an opera singer is stuck inside the whale. He goes out to try and find the whale, with interesting consequences...

Before you watch it, you should make sure you can cope with opera, if you closed your eyes and just listened to this cartoon, most of what you would hear is opera. That is one of the beautiful things about this cartoon. I also recommend this to people who like Disney things and to people who are passionate about cartoons. Enjoy "Willie the Operatic Whale"! :-)

P.S Another extraordinary thing about this is that all of the voices are done by one man, he does the narrating, the three kinds of opera and even some woman voices.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

tissues tissues and more tissues, today

Author: ptb-8 from Australia
16 April 2005

I saw WILLIE THE OPERATIC WHALE as a child on a Disney matinée with BAMBI...can you believe this? What were they trying to do to us? WILLIE is a superb Disney short about an opera singing whale who wants to be at the NY Met singing PAGLIACCI ...but really belongs at the bottom of the sea. Seeing him dressed in his clown outfit, pom poms and cone shaped hat and teardrop and all is just shattering for any child let alone the adult with him. I just cried and cried and then......what happens at the end is emotional scarring for life. I have never forgotten WILLIE also because we copped BAMBI 30 minutes later. I think the whole audience was washed from the Marina Theatre in 1962, in tears. WILLIE is part of a series of cartoons that just have to be on DVD soon. I will snap it up immediately! I did not know it was part of the "Jive version of Fantasia" pic called MAKE MINE MUSIC as that film was never seen after 1946, only the components of which WILLIE was the finale (Jeez!) and deserves a place all to itself maybe on a DVD with other sensational short Disney animations like DONALD IN MATHMAGICLAND and FERDINAND THE BULL. (Ferdinand is a bull who prefers to pick flowers instead of fighting.....believe it or not, as gay as all get out)!

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Had to reply to the only other review!

Author: stephanie passalacqua ( from Effingham, Illinois
8 March 2003

While "chester"'s review was kind-hearted, I felt, as someone who has viewed "Willie the Whale" numerous times, I had to expand on it. While he feels this movie has no other motive than to entertain, I feel it makes the most of the human experience.

Nelson Eddy does an inexplicably emotive narrative and also sings ALL of the songs. His inflection on the narration of this story could be the only reason to watch it. But, no, we also have a trained American opera singer (Eddy, again) singing all of the songs, without fault. If you closed your eyes and listened to this video, your emotions would still be evoked to the highest possible level, stimulated by music and narrative.

The story is so bittersweet. Although this is an old Disney production, I was not introduced to it until my daughter picked it up at a video store in the 90's. It has, at the core, a burning political statement, all the while, making it simple enough for the smallest children to relate to and to reconcile. All creatures are different; all have their own talents; we don't have precidence over anything we just don't understand; and we all make mistakes.

I cannot get through this video without tears at the end. It is simple and complex. Kids could relate it to the playground; we can relate it to world politics.

I've said all of this without mentioning a note that Nelson Eddy sings. There are some universal reknowned songs intertwined into this video, and if you know the background of them, "Shortnin' Bread", "Figaro", et. al., then you will get the underlying message. I think Disney and other production companies are very clever at using this type of medium to send a bigger message. If you really listen, you will hear, but if you don't want to, then you will still enjoy this gem of a short. It's a very sweet story.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

This movie broke my heart

Author: cynthiacher-1 from United States
19 August 2007

This cartoon was featured in a Disney movie called "Make Mine Music" that had different segments. It's now shown as a separate cartoon most of the time, because it was the best of the segments. I saw this as a child; I remember Willie the Whale singing and thinking it was so cute and adorable. I was so rooting for Willie. And then came the ending, which was to say the least, shocking. Really, it was like getting kicked in the stomach. There was talk of "heaven" but that didn't make things any better. This cartoon is entertaining the but ending is something that might upset some children. It sure upset me. Really, it broke my heart, and it affects me the same way still.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Willie, a very special and talented whale

Author: Atreyu_II from The world of artists
23 August 2008

"Willie the Operatic Whale"... my oh my, I have just watched this for the first time in ages. I barely remembered anything from this. This is one of the segments from Walt Disney's "Make Mine Music".

While certainly not as good as the little masterpiece "Peter and the Wolf", this one is enjoyable in a different way. The first minutes are a bit weak, but once the whale Willie is introduced, this improves notoriously.

This whale's name (Willie) could almost cause some confusion with Willy (the orca from the "Free Willy" movies). But only their names are similar. Similar, not equal. And yes, they are both whales, but this Willie is a sperm whale.

Willie himself makes this short so enjoyable. He might be enormous, but he's a nice and friendly whale. In other words, a gentle giant. He doesn't hurt or do anything bad to anyone, he's just a very unusual whale that likes to take advantage of his incredible talent to sing Opera music. He sings very well, especially that delightful Italian song "Figaro" (a song which can also be heard in a great commercial of the Fiat Ritmo). In fact, that's precisely what Willie wishes most: to become an Opera singer... which happens. Willie has more amazing and unbelievable abilities that make him a very special whale. The ending, however, is sad: poor Willie! Whales are certainly majestic and fantastic big animals. They fascinate me. Sadly, they are an endangered species. If this keep going like this, someday there will be no more whales.

As for the cartoon, it has generally good artwork, aside in the first minutes before the whale appears. The sceneries, the seagulls and Willie are especially well drawn.

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Author: Zebrafil from United States
29 May 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Irwin Graham clearly was writing about every pompous know it all it the music business and I have no doubt the wrote from experience. Making sweet Willie a martyred artist has its point to an adult audience existentially. I am amazed at the positive reviews praising the tragic aspect of the beautifully made but but pitifully sad cartoon. Willie in heaven takes about one percent of the edge off and factually there were so many ways to allow a redemptive ending it amazes me no other ending made it to the screen the Ahab and Moby Dick approach was an early lesson in tragic obsession and there is value in teaching such things but Disney had a way of doing the beauty and the humor so well that one is not ready for the sucker punch of Willie not surviving the harpoon. Graham took his revenge of the music world and inspired me to punch him in the nose someday. So I swore at 5 years of age. There are better methods of creation for kids and teaching them about death. Noble idea badly executed Martyr complex One O one

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