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Despite Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and his cartoons being popular and well received at the time, they have been vastly overshadowed over time by succeeding animation characters. It is a shame as, while not cartoon masterpieces, they are fascinating for anybody wanting to see what very old animation looked like.
Oswald in the Disney years saw mostly good to very good cartoons, and while the Winkler years had some duds there were also cartoons as good as the best of the Disney years. The 1929-1930 batches of Walter Lantz-directed Oswald cartoons were a mixed bag, with some good, some forgettable and not much special and a few mediocre. The 1931 batch was mostly underwhelming, with only 6 out of 18 cartoons being above average or more. The 1932 batch had a few not so good, though the cartoons in question were nothing compared to the worst of the previous 3 years, cartoons, but most were decent to good and some even very good. The 1933 batch is one of the most consistent, with the weakest 'Beau Best' still being decent.
'William Tell' is another decent cartoon of the 1934 batch, which generally has been consistently of the same standard, nice but unexceptional.
Can see why some may not be enamoured with it, as 'William Tell', like the later Oswald cartoons, is very much different from the tone of the earlier ones. There is a preference for the more chaotic ones which provided much more fun. Have found that most of the 1934 batch, while still having a good amount to recommend, has bordered on saccharine and cutesy, that's true for some of 'William Tell' too.
Didn't really see the need for the narration, maybe to fill the gaps in and make the story easier to follow, but to me it didn't add a great deal when the visuals were telling a lot and the storytelling was already clear (coming from somebody who knows the story, through Rossini's opera mainly).
However, the animation is very good. There is the looser and more elaborate look of many of the previous Lantz era Oswald cartoons, revelling in the rubbery style seen in the Oswald cartoons made around this time.
Love the music too, which is very characterful and beautifully orchestrated and performed.
Gags are flawlessly timed and can be very amusing, if not hilarious, while there are touching moments like the portrayal of Tell's dilemma that forms the main crux of the story. There is more story than most Oswald cartoons at this point, even if still a bit thin. Oswald is restrained but likable.
In summary, another nice if unexceptional cartoon like most of the 1934 Oswald cartoons. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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