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The Bears and the Bees

A Silly Symphony

Release Date : July 9, 1932

Running Time : 6:18

Synopsis

Two cute bear cubs (who share more than a passing resemblance to Mickey Mouse) run afoul of a swarm of honeybees -- but luckily the brunt of their wrath is directed at a grumpy old grizzly.

Credits

Director
Wilfred Jackson
Animation
Albert Hurter
Johnny Cannon
Les Clark
Frenchy de Tremaudan
Gerry "Clyde" Geronomi
Dave Hand
Ben Sharpsteen
Charles Couch
Marvin Woodward
Charles Hutchinson
Harry Reeves
Dick Williams
Jack King
Dick Lundy
Fred Moore
Fred Spencer
Frank Tipper
Joe D'Igalo
Hardie Gramatky
Music
Frank Churchill

DVD

United States
Disney Treasures : More Silly Symphonies

Television

The Ink and Paint Club: Episode 38: Infested Silly Symphonies
Mickey's Mouse Tracks: Episode 35
Donald's Quack Attack: Episode 3
The Mickey Mouse Club : December 8, 1955

Technical Specification

Color Type: Black & White
Animation Type: Standard animation
Sound Mix: Mono
Aspect Ratio: 1.37 : 1
Negative Format: 35mm
Print Format: 35mm
Cinematographic Process: Spherical
Original Language: English

Released by United Artists Pictures

Comments

From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : So far in 1932, we’ve seen all Mickey Mouse cartoons, with the Silly Symphonies taking a little break. That’s understandable, as Mickey is the more bankable star at that point, and he could help out the studio’s coffers a little more. But the Silly Symphonies returned with The Bears and the Bees, which is likely to offer a contrast to the Mickey Mouse shorts, right?

Yep, the return of Mickey bears! Okay, I’m just kidding, but we do get Mickey bears back in this one. First seen in Arctic Antics, the bear cubs that feature the same facial features as Mickey Mouse are recurring characters in the Silly Symphonies. This, however, is their first starring role.

The bear cubs are just adorable. There’s no two ways about it. I’ll probably irritate animation historians here, but the design reminds me a lot of Stitch. Ok, wait, before you start throwing things, think it through. They have short, squat bodies, square arms and legs and rounded faces with prominent ears. Whatever you may think of Stitch, his design is fantastic, and the bears are a precursor of that design.

This short is a pastoral, peaceful short, at least up until the very end. It tells the story of the two bear cubs that wander away from their hibernating parent to find some food. Along the way, they encounter a more vicious bear, who is determined to hoard all the food itself.

The bears stumble upon a field of bees, and of course, where there are bees, there is honey. Finding the honey, the cubs invade the tree and start lapping it up, only to get chased off by the bigger bear. The bees return to take down the invading cubs, but get the big bear instead.

The scenes of the bees attacking the bear give a little more action to the final part of the short, but they are very much in the tradition of other Silly Symphonies. Think of the flies in The Spider and the Fly or the birds in The Bird Store, and the bees are doing the same thing to this bear that happened to the spider and the cat in those shorts.

The final scene of the bear cubs eating the honey out of the stump of the bees’ tree is as cute as it comes. The animators went to great pains to make these bears a little more realistic, having them lick each other’s faces, walk like bears, fight playfully and other small touches. It seems as though these bears were used to give the animators a little more insight into drawing realistic animals, at least in their actions.

The Bears and the Bees is a fun, cute short, and I think that’s the best way to describe it. If this short came out today, it would be panned as a way to sell stuffed bears, as too “cutesy.” But that’s the point of this short in my mind – to make nature feel warm and welcoming, or “cute” if you want to use that term.


From Mac : The Symphonies are back! I agree that the animators really strived to caricature realistic animal behaviour in this one, making this quite different to earlier woodland Sillies that we've seen. I didn't think of Stitch when I watched this one, but place the adult bear's growling jaws into one of the cub's mouths and I see what you mean!

Another change is that this is the earliest Disney short to be released by United Artists (although Merritt and Kaufman's SS book says that this and Just Dogs had their releases held back two years). The next cartoon, Mickey in Arabia is, I believe, the last released by Columbia


From Jerry Edwards : I especially liked how well the short makes you sympathize with the bear cubs after the greedy adult bear chases them away from their food - first the berry bush and then the honey. I still cheer when the adult bear is driven off by the bees, leaving the honey to the cubs. Very nice animation - especially the special effects of the water running in the stream and small waterfall.

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