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The Pied Piper

A Silly Symphony

Release Date : September 16, 1933

Running Time : 7:32

Synopsis

Based on the classic tale of a mysterious piper who rids a town of its rat infestation with his music. When the townsfolk refuse to pay the piper his fee, he lures all the town's children away to a magical land in the same manner.

Characters

Pied Piper
Mayor of Hamelin

Credits

Director
Wilfred Jackson
Animation
Ben Sharpsteen
Joe D'Igalo
Archie Robin
Marvin Woodward
Ugo D'Orsi
Hardie Gramatky
Cy Young
Dick Williams
Paul Allen
Ed Love
Layout
Ferdinand Horvath
Story
Webb Smith
Ted Sears
Music
Leigh Harline

Source

Based on the story "The Pied Piper of Hamelin"

Cut Scenes

A musical introduction with the lyrics "Rats, rats, rats... they chased the dogs and killed the cats" was cut at one time, but has since been reinstated.

Video

United States
Cartoon Classics : Limited Gold Editions II : The Disney Dream Factory : 1933-1938
France
Contes et Legendes de Jiminy Cricket
Italy
Cartoon Classics : Limited Gold Editions II : La Fabbrica dei Sogni

Laserdiscs

United States
Cartoon Classics : Limited Gold Editions II : The Disney Dream Factory : 1933-1938
Japan
The Tortoise and the Hare

DVD

United States
Walt Disney Animation Collection : Volume 3 : The Prince and the Pauper
Timeless Tales Volume 1
Disney Treasures : More Silly Symphonies
Germany
Zauberhafte Marchenwelt 4
Italy
Walt Disney Le Fiabe 2
United Kingdom
Walt Disney's Fables : Volume 4

Television

The Ink and Paint Club: Episode 7: Storybook Silly Symphonies
The Mickey Mouse Club : December 26, 1955
The Mickey Mouse Club : February 14, 1957

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 : If you’re like me, you are somewhat familiar with the tale of the Pied Piper, even if you don’t know all the details. That made the prospect of viewing Disney’s Silly Symphony version a happy one. And it did not disappoint, but the ending was quite a surprise for me, because I had forgotten that particular aspect of the story.

Start with the animation work here. It is fantastic. The animation of the characters is extremely well done, with each human figure having different features, and even the rats of Hamelin are distinct and different from one another. That’s quite a feat when you’re drawing rats or a crowd scene of people, but the people we see up close are all distinct. This short had to have taken a long time to draw.

You also get amazing characterization in the animation. There are two main characters in the short – the Pied Piper and the Mayor of Hamlin. Both are instantly recognizable as the protagonist and antagonist, respectively. The Mayor’s grubby hands and scheming eyes come to the forefront first thing, as does the Pied Piper’s earnest eyes and carefree, innocent nature.

As far as the story goes, it’s familiar, I’m sure. The rats have overrun the town of Hamelin, and the populace is revolting. The mayor promises a bag of gold to the person who can rid the town of the rats. He says this just as the Pied Piper strolls into town, so naturally, the newcomer takes him up on the offer.

As the Pied Piper plays, he leads the rats out the front gates, and off into a field, making them believe that there’s a large block of cheese there for them. However, when he returns for his bag of gold, the Mayor decides to double cross him, and refuses.

This is the part I did not remember. The Pied Piper curses the town, because it’s not just the Mayor who jeers at him from above. The Piper tells the townsfolk that he will steal their children, because the kids should not grow up as evil as they are. The Mayor challenges him to do his worst. Bad move.

The Piper’s playing brings out the children, who follow him to a mountain hideaway, full of toys, as the song “Toyland” plays. I do not know the history of this song, but I know it’s a popular one today at the Disney Parks around Christmas time. Was this the first time the song was performed? Or was it a popular song before this?

Regardless, the short ends with the children in the Toyland, and the townspeople mad at the mayor. It’s a great story, with real consequences, and not necessarily a happy ending, which is rare for Disney. The ending is really a morally ambiguous one, and that’s not something you see from short cartoons. Very interesting and extremely well done.


From Kurtis : The song "Toyland" is from the 1903 operetta Babes in Toyland, written by Victor Herbert. I'm sure that many people of that day would have recognized the song.

The first time Babes in Toyland and the song would been seen on film is the Laurel and Hardy version in 1934, a year after the release of Pied Piper.

Disney would later use the song in their version of Babes in Toyland in 1961. It is because of this movie that the song has become a perennial favorite at the Disney parks.


From RJ : I like this one. The character designs were a significant step up and they were first thing that I noticed about the short. Combined with a classic tale that incorporates music as an important plot element, its hard to go wrong.
From Mac : This seems to be a somewhat under rated Disney cartoon. It never appears on any "best of" list, even though I think it's one the better Disney cartoons for all reasons listed in Ryan's post.

You can almost see the animation evolving as we watch this one. It may look a little sloppy in some places, but there's some good poses and great expressions. The mayor's sneering face as he insultingly tosses the Piper a single coin is great – it really makes you hate him!

The ending is an early example of what some would call a "Disney version" – brightening up bleak spots in traditional tales to make them less creepy. Here, the rats disappear in a giant cheese and the slave-children are offered a happy life in Happy Land (the song say Toy Land, but the sign says Happy Land!) rather than grow up to be like the adults. In original versions of the story the Piper drowns the rats and lures the children away as revenge for not being paid. They end up in a cave alright, but it ain't no Happy Land!


From Jerry Edwards : This short is well done and nicely animated. But I've never cared much for the original Pied Piper story.
From Bryan Hensley : This Silly Symphony was a great one. I have 2 slightly different versions of The Pied Piper on Disney DVD; Disney's Timeless Tales Volume 1 and volume 3 of Disney's Animation Collection. Even though both discs have an unrestored cut of this short, I've noticed something funny between them. The Timeless Tales version had the short with enhanced music (It sounded crystal clear to my ears!), and the new Animation Collection version had the whole short with its original soundtrack. As in, no enhanced music. That's no real biggie to me, it's still a classic story nonetheless! If any of you have both of these discs at once, or the Disney Treasures tin it was in for you collectors, just listen and you'll see what I mean. Something similar happened in Father Noah's Ark in 1933 as well; on VHS and on TV years ago.

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