The Brave Tin Soldier (1934)

Article 4612 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 8-25-2014
Directed by Shamus Culhane, Al Eugster and Ub Iwerks
Voice cast unknown
Country: US
What it is: Fairy tale cartoon

When a toymaker accidentally breaks the leg of one of his toy tin soldiers, he tosses it in the trash. That night at midnight, the toys come to life for festivities, and the broken tin soldier tries to join in, but is laughed at for his affliction by all but a ballerina. When the king of the toys tries to hit on the ballerina, the soldier comes to her rescue.

Ub Iwerks was an early animator for Disney who struck out on his own in the early thirties with his own animation studio. He had a couple of continuing characters as well as a series of color fairy tales, and this cartoon belongs to that series. Both the animation and color are quite good in this cartoon, and it has some striking elements (both good and bad) that make it interesting. One is that the cartoon, though it changes quite a bit from the source story, retains a very downbeat ending found in the original fairy tale; given that the basic premise of the cartoon has occurred many times in cartoons and we’re used to the usual way this story pans out, it’s rather startling when we reach that point. I couldn’t help but notice, though, that a coda was added to give the story a (more or less) happy ending. I also noted that the use of Hollywood caricatures doesn’t really work in this one, especially when the caricatures include such obviously comic characters as Laurel and Hardy and two of the Marx brothers; probably the reason they don’t work in this cartoon is that it’s more of a tear-jerker than a comedy. Still, the retention of the darker elements of the story make it an interesting watch.

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