I love animation. Most forms of art are entirely subjective, but animation isn’t really one of those things. Sure, you can hate the stories, or the characters, or the art style. But to hate the animation itself? That’s just silly.
The effort required to animate something, and animate it well, is phenomenal. That’s why it’s a dying art. Or if you ask me, a dead art, buried in a shallow grave round the back of the Pixar car park. I love cartoons, and while I’m not stuck in the past, one of my all-time favourites is the 1957 Bugs Bunny short What’s Opera Doc?
This cartoon is a musical mishmash of several Wagner operas, with Elmer Fudd cast as Siegfried and Bugs Bunny as Brünnhilde the valkyrie. I’m not familiar with Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen or any of his other dramas. I’ve never been to an opera. I’ve never even been to a concert, unless seeing the stage show at Flambards counts. Anyway, I can’t say anything about the accuracy to the source material or storytelling. I think it very much stands on its own.
We see Elmer Fudd as a mighty warrior, able to control the elements with his magic helmet. He sets out to kill himself a rabbit for some reason, and begins emphatically stabbing his spear into Bugs’ rabbit hole. Unless you really liked German WWII newsreels, this is probably where you first heard “Ride of the Valkyries”. Bugs is initially skeptical of his foe’s hunting prowess, but a demonstration of the magic helmet’s power soon shuts him up. Bugs Bunny flees, and when next we see him he’s dressed as a woman.
I lose it, at this part. I don’t know whether it’s because of the music, because of the enormously fat horse, or because seeing Bugs dressed as sexy valkyrie Brünnhilde does something weird to my brain. But it brings tears to my eyes.
Bugs uses his feminine charms to beguile the mighty Siegfried, but his long silken ears soon give him away. Rather fortunate, I think. How far would Bugs have carried the charade? I daren’t think too much about it. I already have quite enough to explain to my psychiatrist, thank you.
Angered that his beloved Brünnhilde is the rabbit in disguise, Elmer/Siegfried summons a powerful tempest and kills Bugs in a violent fit of rage. However, seeing Bugs’ prone, crumpled form causes him to have a change of heart. He regrets killing the beautiful creature and walks into the sunset, cradling his body.
If you can make it to the end without getting even a tiny bit choked up, then you’re a monster. You probably work euthanising animals or as a traffic warden. Away with you! To another blog, lest this one become as black as your heart…!
Still here? Good.
There is a reason that Bugs Bunny has lived for sixty or seventy years, and this cartoon demonstrates it perfectly. He just looks so alive. It’s enchanting; his whiskers twitch, his ears flop about, he wiggles his toes and puffs his chest.
You get the impression he’s a living thing. It’s exceedingly rare to see anything animated to that standard these days.
I suspect that the embedded video will be pulled down quicker than Lola Bunny’s knickers on her wedding night, so forgive me if it’s not there. This one’s well worth seeking out, so hit up your preferred search engine now. I always used Lycos, back in the lawless olden days when Tim Bernard Matthews invented the internet.
So, there you have it. Why not tell me all about your favourite cartoons in the comments below?
“Beguile the mighty”