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Birds in the Spring

A Silly Symphony

Release Date : March 11, 1933

Running Time : 7:15

Synopsis

Three newborn birds herald the arrival of spring in a lively pastoral.

Characters

Otto, the Baby Bird

Credits

Director
Dave Hand
Animation
Johnny Cannon
Les Clark
Frenchy de Tremaudan
Norm Ferguson
Gerry "Clyde" Geronomi
Jack King
Ben Sharpsteen
Ed Love
Harry Reeves
Dick Williams
Nick George
Charles Couch
Joe D'Igalo
Jack Kinney
Art Babbitt
Marvin Woodward
Paul Fennell
Hardie Gramatky
Cy Young
Story
Webb Smith
Ted Sears
Music
Bert Lewis
Frank Churchill
Voices
Marion Darlington
Purv Pullen

Video

United States
Cartoon Classics : Limited Gold Editions I : Silly Symphonies
Germany
Walt Disneys Musikhitparade
France
Silly Symphonies Volume 2
Italy
Silly Symphonies
Cartoon Classics : Limited Gold Editions I : Silly Symphonies

CED

United States
Limited Gold Editions - Silly Symphonies

Laserdiscs

Japan
Silly Symphonies : Limited Gold Editions

DVD

United States
Disney Treasures : More Silly Symphonies

Television

The Ink and Paint Club: Episode 58: Silly Symphonies Go To the Birds
Mickey's Mouse Tracks: Episode 65
The Mickey Mouse Club : February 10, 1956

Technical Specification

Color Type: Technicolor
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 : The amazing work on the Mickey Mouse cartoons of 1933 so far sets high bar for the Silly Symphonies to meet. Birds in the Spring doesn’t quite live up to that, I have to be honest. It is still a good short, and it has moments of wonderful work, but overall falls short of the Mickeys.

To be fair, this is a pastoral short, much more of a throwback to the earlier Silly Symphonies, like the “season” shorts of Summer or Spring. As such, it lacks a strong story with major conflict, even though it does have a main narrative. There is one standout character that makes it all worthwhile, though.

The basics of the short follow a family of birds, as they are born and grow up. There are three birds born at the same time, and one is obviously different. The “black sheep” of the family, this small bird messes up the singing of his brothers, and ends up on his own out in the world by accident. The chaos ensues.

Our little hero bird causes a lot of problems, including getting chased by a snake that he ties in knots and starting a swarm of bees rampaging through the woods. This little bird is a very appealing character, a hopeful blunderer that causes chaos in his wake. In some ways, he is reminiscent of Pluto.

The bird is done well, and makes the short more fun than a simple slice of life piece. Having this “child” be the lead character was a great choice by the Disney crew. The only problem is that by having him be the well intentioned blunderer, there’s no real sense of conflict to the proceedings.

Contrast this bird’s actions with those of Pluto in Mickey’s Pal Pluto. Pluto also causes some unintentional chaos, but then redeems himself with the heroic rescue of the kittens from the well. This bird does no such thing, but instead ends up being reprimanded by his father as the short ends.

Still, the short is fun, and that counts for a lot. You feel good watching it, because of the bright colors and peaceful nature. I will say that after a few minutes, I got tired of the chirping from the various birds, but that wore off towards the end as I got more involved in the action.

There’s even some great animation work here, such as the scene where the birds are first born. After they hatch, the baby birds start crying, and the scene fades between the three of them crying to a shot of them singing years later, as fully formed children. It’s a great transition that defies normal expectations.

Like I said, this short is enjoyable, and it features some good character design and animation on the lead bird, as well as some nice color and backgrounds. But as a whole, it can’t live up to the work that Disney has been producing on the Mickey shorts of 1933. That’s a high bar to clear, though, so this one is still worth checking out.


From Mac : This is an ideal choice for an early color short – what's more colorful than birds in the spring? The Technicolor of the Silly Symphonies is finally being reflected in the titles, where instead of the drab brown we're used to, this one features a multi-colored opening card. There's even an attempt to make the type jump right off the screen with a bold drop shadow, which doesn't quite work.

Otto, the baby bird, really stands out as a fun little character and it's great fun watching his mischievous adventure. We get to see some of those tuneful Disney humming birds again, plus I think it's Disney's first use of a hypnotic snake (Kaa anyone?) and the swallowing-a-grasshopper gag. One scene worth checking out is when the bees first fly out of the hive – there's some great use of perspective for a really dynamic effect.

I don't think this is quite as much fun as the recent Mickey's either, but it's still a very worthy Disney entry. Again, I think the early scenes attempt a more naturalistic animation style than the animators are quite capable of in this era. However, it's already an improvement over a similar scene at the start of Babes in the Wood.


From Jerry Edwards : A baby bird, Otto, has several adventures when he runs away from home. He escapes a hypnotic rattlesnake and runs into trouble with a hornet's nest. Rescued by his father and taken home, he is given a spanking. One of the few Silly Symphony shorts I don't care for. It just doesn't have a Disney "look" or "feel" to it for me. It comes across as a short that could easily have been done by some other animation company. My feeling for this short is that it was mainly done to practice the use of different colors - the birds, trees and flowers display a wide variety of color.
From Kyle Peters : A funny cartoon. I like the part where the snake chases him. I would never see anything (underline "anything") like that today. That is pure 1930's humor, all right!
From Chris Perdue : This is one of my favorite Silly Symphonies of all time. It seems that most people wouldn't agree with me, but I think it is very well done. I love everything about it from the colors to the story about the little bird who goes out to explore the world and gets into all kinds of trouble. This is another one of those shorts that my sister and I used to watch together all the time on the Silly Symphonies Limited Gold Edition. We never owned it, but we rented it often. I think that my sister could relate to the little bird because she was always, and still is now that she is grown, a curious type.
From Richard Sutor, Ph. D. : It's almost as if with the addition of color and the release of Flowers and Trees the Silly Symphony series has been reborn. While the initial entries (mostly) stayed true to the concept of presenting animated actions timed to musical works, the emphasis now seems to be on testing story telling techniques. Notice the credits are now beginning to credit people in a story department. So far we've seen King Neptune, a modified Hansel and Gretel, and Santa all presented using various story telling methods. It's hard to know what was going on in the mind of Walt Disney and just when he made the decision to push his people to expand their talents so they could produce a feature length story but the Silly Symphony series seems like the testing ground where story telling techniques are being tested and refined in a series free of the need to use a star character and work in all of the star's expected routines. While many of these cartoons are one shots, many of them had an audience impact that caused viewers to remember these cartoons fondly. The endearing antics of these birds is a prime example.
From Jonathan Lhota : I remember seeing this on the Disney's Sing-Along Songs video: "Fun with Music (Volume 5)" Using the song "Let's sing like the birds sing." And I thought it was from this cartoon. But it wasn't. The song was from The Enchanted Tiki Room Attraction at Walt Disney World Resort.