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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Social Lion" is a Disney cartoon from 1954, sot his one is already over 60 years old and like all these other cartoons (or almost all of them) from the Golden Age of Animation, this is a color sound film that runs for slightly under seven minutes. It shows us what happens when a lion is caught in Africa and let out in an American city. Nobody fears him. What can shock you when you are confronted with economical crises, metropolitan traffic and rising crime rates in a metropolis? Certainly not some kind of animal. But when he adapts the looks of a rich businessman, oh boy! That is one hell of a scary creature. I thought this was a fairly funny little film with a nice but not overwhelmingly deep share of insight into life back in the 1950s. It's all for the wit an laughs. With the narration, it sometimes reminded me of one of these Goofy how-to cartoons. The Kinney Brothers and Schaffer add another pretty decent little film to their respectable body of work. It is not on the level of Lambert the Sheepish Lion, but still very much worth checking out. I give it a thumbs-up.
There may be some bias as Disney was a big part of my childhood, and I'm still a fan to this day. Social Lion is not one of their classics but it is a great short and somewhat under-appreciated. Younger children are likely to find that the story and humour goes over their heads(judging from first time experience) and I wasn't sure what to make of the Natives at the beginning in terms of look and behaviour, but older children and adults will find a huge amount to enjoy. The animation style is really interesting with a mix of the lush 40s style for the colours and the character design of the lion and a more minimalistic style for the backgrounds, while the music is full of character, it enhances what's happening very well and even expressions, gestures and sound effects have a music cue of their own. The story was a clever one to begin with and the quirky execution of it is even cleverer, Social Lion is very satirical of American social society and it does so with sharp wit and sly irony. The best of it being in the Lion's Club. The characters are fun and engaging, especially the titular character, while the narration is of the kind that entertains and to a lesser extent teaches without being over-explanatory. Paul Frees' voice work is spot on. To conclude, a great short, unusual but very cleverly done. 9/10 Bethany Cox
This is a silly little cartoon from Disney. It begins in Africa with a
lion. He's very proud to be the King of the Beasts. However, he's soon
captured and brought to America. There he escapes but a very strange
thing happens. In New York, it's the lion who is afraid and not the
people. In fact, the New Yorkers take it all in stride and mostly
ignore him--making him feel rather inadequate! But, fortunately, it all
ends well for this cute lion.
The artwork for this short is unusual. The lion appears very much like animation of the 1940s--finely detailed. But the people and backgrounds of the city are more 1950s in style--more minimalistic. This works, however, to help point out how out of place he is in this world. And, the cartoon was amazingly fresh and original. The only negative is that some are bound to be offended by the big-lipped natives shown at the beginning of the cartoon due to changing sensibilities.
This notable short animation by Kinney, unfortunately relative less appreciated than other shorts of the same director (the weakest Pigs is Pigs was nominee for Academy Award the same year), shows a good sense of irony with American society topics. A lion, captured in Africa was accidentally free in New York streets. From the emperor of the jungle to anonymous situation in another jungle, the concrete one. Here, the short parodies with modern individualism through the collective society rules the feline is advertised by a traffic guard to get his right position to use the crosswalk. And even with some American institutions like the Lion's Club and the Salvation Army. Further has a delicious nonsense a la Kafka or Ionesco: the lion is just perceived as lion when uses elegant clothes like a gentleman.
A Walt Disney Cartoon.
Looking for a little fame, a particularly SOCIAL LION gets transferred from Africa to the wilds of New York City.
Undeservedly obscure, this little film is packed with sly wit and good humor. Produced in the limited animation style, its depiction of the Lion's encounters with unimpressed New Yorkers, their traffic and the subway is very funny. The very brief look at the native bearers in the African safari at the beginning of the film is a little bit racist.
Walt Disney (1901-1966) was always intrigued by pictures & drawings. As a lad in Marceline, Missouri, he sketched farm animals on scraps of paper; later, as an ambulance driver in France during the First World War, he drew comic figures on the sides of his vehicle. Back in Kansas City, along with artist Ub Iwerks, Walt developed a primitive animation studio that provided animated commercials and tiny cartoons for the local movie theaters. Always the innovator, his ALICE IN CARTOONLAND series broke ground in placing a live figure in a cartoon universe. Business reversals sent Disney & Iwerks to Hollywood in 1923, where Walt's older brother Roy became his lifelong business manager & counselor. When a mildly successful series with Oswald The Lucky Rabbit was snatched away by the distributor, the character of Mickey Mouse sprung into Walt's imagination, ensuring Disney's immortality. The happy arrival of sound technology made Mickey's screen debut, STEAMBOAT WILLIE (1928), a tremendous audience success with its use of synchronized music. The SILLY SYMPHONIES soon appeared, and Walt's growing crew of marvelously talented animators were quickly conquering new territory with full color, illusions of depth and radical advancements in personality development, an arena in which Walt's genius was unbeatable. Mickey's feisty, naughty behavior had captured millions of fans, but he was soon to be joined by other animated companions: temperamental Donald Duck, intellectually-challenged Goofy and energetic Pluto. All this was in preparation for Walt's grandest dream - feature length animated films. Against a blizzard of doomsayers, Walt persevered and over the next decades delighted children of all ages with the adventures of Snow White, Pinocchio, Dumbo, Bambi & Peter Pan. Walt never forgot that his fortunes were all started by a mouse, or that childlike simplicity of message and lots of hard work always pay off.
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