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Little Hiawatha

A Silly Symphony

Release Date : May 15, 1937

Running Time : 9:12

Synopsis

A young Indian brave sets off into the forest primeval to prove his worth by hunting big game. Unfortunately, he finds that some of the game is a lot bigger than he is!

Characters

Hiawatha

Credits

Director
Dave Hand
Animation
Bob Wickersham
Louie Schmitt
Dick Heumer
Frank Thomas
Eddie Strickland
Ugo D'Orsi
Story
Merrill de Maris
Charles Couch
George Stallings
Music
Albert Hay Malotte
Character Design
Charlie Thorson
Inpiration Art
Gustav Tenngren
Voices
Gayne Whitman
Sally Noble
Mary Rosetti
Millie Walters

Video

United States
Favorite Stories : Paul Bunyan
Cartoon Classics : First Series : Volume 13 : Fanciful Fables
France
Contes et Legendes de Jiminy Cricket
Italy
Le Fiabe Volume 2 : Il Brutto Anatraccolo e Altre Storie
Le Meravigliose Fiabe del Grillo Parlante

Laserdiscs

United States
Paul Bunyan / The Three Little Pigs
Cartoon Classics : Fanciful Fables

DVD

Pocahontas 2 : Journey to a New World
Timeless Tales Volume 3
Disney Treasures : More Silly Symphonies
Germany
Pochahontas (Special Edition)
Pochahontas
Zauberhafte Marchenwelt 2
Italy
Walt Disney Le Fiabe 3
United Kingdom
Walt Disney's Fables : Volume 2

Television

The Ink and Paint Club: Episode 49: More Storybook Silly Symphonies
Mickey's Mouse Tracks: Episode 52

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

  • Disney had at one time considered making a full-length feature of the Hiawatha story, but the idea never fully developed and was shelved.

From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : Somewhere, somehow, the Silly Symphonies evolved from a “daring” set of shorts to something designed to get out new characters and tell cute little vignettes. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s a different twist to the series. Little Hiawatha is a cute vignette, but a particularly good one.

I had seen bits and pieces of this before, and heard much about it, but never actually sat down and watched the entire thing. I’m so glad that I did, because I feel as though I had been missing something, and now I understand what it was. Little Hiawatha is delightful, and it foretells later developments in the Disney films.

For those of you unfamiliar with the story of Hiawatha, it’s fairly straightforward. The little Indian brave stalks through the forest, with his bow and arrow ready to strike an animal. However, when confronted with a rabbit, he decides he can’t do it, and allows the rabbit to get away.

Instead, Hiawatha turns his attention to some nearby tracks, and ends up face to face with a bear. As he is chased back through the woods, the other animals decide to help him, because of the kindness he showed to the rabbit. The animals lead the bear away and get Hiawatha away safe and sound.

If it sounds simple, it is, but it’s also heartwarming. The “cute” designs for characters we have seen in Silly Symphonies like Funny Little Bunnies are taken to full effect here, as all the characters have a rounded, homey feel. Even Hiawatha is a bulbous character, and that’s shown to full effect, as his pants fall down often, exposing his round bottom.

Where in some of those earlier shorts the cuteness of the designs was a little over the top, here it works very well. If Hiawatha was menacing angular, harsh looking animals, you wouldn’t want him to let them go. And if he was a normal looking person, you would not feel sympathy for him. Here, it is a two way street, and that makes it work.

Where I think this short really shows us something is how it is a glimpse to the future. The narrated opening and ending are things we will see again in future shorts, and the middle part of the short, with the simple music, lack of dialogue and pastoral nature reminded me of Bambi. It makes Little Hiawatha seem a little like the canary in the coal mine, showing us a glimpse of the next phase of Disney shorts.


From Mac : A cute little short (although I can find it a little boring) it reminds a little of Three Blind Mousketeers in that it sports beautiful backgrounds and colors and really pushes the effects to a level we haven't seen before (sadly, once again, the DVD doesn't quite do the cartoon justice and I've seen it look better elsewhere). We've seen reflections and flowing water effects in Disney cartoons before, but they've never looked quite so beautiful as they do here. It really looks like you could drink it and swim in it. The use of color is just beautiful and I like how it subtly changes at the end to evoke lat afternoon and then a yellow sunset.

I agree that this short points to things to come from Disney. Early on we get some humor much like we'll see in the Goofy 'How To' series -the narrator says one thing, while Hiawatha accidentally contradicts him. Then of course we see a bunch of animals much like (some exactly like) the ones we'll see in Snow White. Thankfully the animals in Snow White don't have the ridiculous and annoying laugh of the ones here! The sunset colors and water effects are something this short shares with Snow White too.

This short also features a big bear in a scene much like later ones in Disney cartoons (most famously The Pointer). Plus there's a just-can't-do-it trying to kill an animal scene prefiguring similar moments in Disney cartoons.


From Jerry Edwards : Little Hiawatha is a little Indian boy who wants to be a mighty hunter and goes off into the forest alone to prove himself. When he can't bring himself to shoot a young rabbit, he endears himself to the woodland creatures, who repay his kindness by rescuing him from an angry grizzly bear. A nicely animated cartoon, with the scene of Hiawatha being chased by the bear being especially well done and exciting. The special effects animation of the waterfall is especially nicely done. Disney does get a little too cute with Hiawatha's pants continually falling down and mooning the audience numerous times.
From Per Nilsson : My first encounter with Little Hiawatha was not the animated cartoon, but the comic book character. He appeared every week in the Swedish weekly magazine and I didn't know until rather recently, from where this rather odd character originated.

There is not much to add to Jerry's description of the short, only that it has quite a few similarities to the later produced Donald's Vacation. Both starts with Hiawatha/Donald travelling in a canoe, later on getting drenched by a waterfall. They steps down in deep water and get all wet. Later on they meet a bear which they both inspects hanging from it's nose. And last but not least, both of them are mooning the audience a lot!


From Richard B. Campos : I loved it ever since I saw it as a small boy, now I'm 22, and have a tattoo of him on my chest (I'm Navajo.) I wish Disney would make a full length film.
From Barbie Dicks : During our vacation at Disney World in Jan. 2006, the Hiawatha clip was shown on the hotel TV and my 3 year old adored it. The grown-ups laughed, too. I'm now looking for it on DVD.
From Chris : This is one of my favorites of the Silly Symphony series. It contain a good among of action with humor and pathos... just the way Walt would have like it. The single sweetest moment in any Disney cartoon for me is the little rabbit's happy reunion with his family after Hiawatha decides to spare his life. You genuinely believe the little guy's terror at the prospect of dying, and thus end up sharing his family's ecstasy to find him spared (although it is amusing that Mama Rabbit -- the one of the right in that scene looks more feminine that the one that does all the licking and hugging -- initially jumps 12 feet in the air to see her baby safe... then sniffs at it quizzically while Papa and the other bunnies smother it with affection).
From Baruch Weiss : A little Indian goes out to hunt animals, but makes the right choice and gives up! Wonderful and cute cartoon especially when the boy's pants falls down!
From Erika : I love this short! And it was released on my birthday (not same year though.)
From Richard Sutor, Ph. D. : This is more an item of trivia than a comment on the cartoon. The composer of the score for Little Hiawatha was Albert Hay Malotte. In 1935 Malotte composed a religious song that endures into the 21st century although very few people know the name of the composer. The song is Malotte's setting of "The Lord's Prayer."
From Claudia : This was one of my favorites when I was a child. I love it, I saw a re-run in black and white.

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