I think this sequence, on film, is one of the greatest ever animated. There’s a sweet tenderness and an obviously close relationship between baby Dumbo and his mother which is built on the back of this sequence. It not only establishes both characters solidly, without words, but it sets up the mood of everything that will soon happen to the pair during the remaining 45 minutes of the film. Without that established bond, the audience wouldn’t feel so deeply for the pair during the “Baby Mine” song or care so much about Dumbo’s predicament.
Tytla has said that he based the animation of the baby elephant on his young son who he could study at home. Peet has said that Tytla had difficulty drawing the elephants and asked for some help via his assistant. There’s no doubt that both were proud of the sequence and tried to take full credit for it. No doubt both deserve enormous credit for a wonderful sequence. Regardless of how it got to the screen, everyone involved deserves kudos.
Here are a lot of frame grabs of the sequence. I put them up just so that they can be compared to the extraordinary board posted yesterday. Both match each other closely. Whereas the board has all the meat, the timing of the animation gives it the delicacy that would have been lost in a lesser animator’s hands, or, for that matter, in a less-caring animator’s hands. The scene is an emotional one.
(Click any image to enlarge.)