Saturday, August 24, 2013

"Somewhere In Dreamland" - Max Fleischer (1936)

I love this cartoon. But be careful, it just might make you cry. The story concerns 2 poor children who live with their mother. There is no father in evidence. The children’s lives are chiefly concerned with gathering the necessities of life; wood for fire, and anything edible. Their mother does all she can do to provide for them, but with limited resources, there is not much that she can do.

As the children go gathering firewood one day, they are mesmerized by all of the things in the shop windows of the town in which they live. But, they realize that none of these beautiful, and delicious, things are meant for them. They were for other, more fortunate folks. Remember, this cartoon was created during the middle of the Great Depression, so there were likely many kids who saw this cartoon and identified with the plight of the two children.

That night they go home and give their Mother the firewood they have gathered and she serves them a very sparse meal. They allude to all of the things they have seen that day, which only breaks their Mother’s heart, as she cannot afford to feed them well, let alone provide them with such luxuries. The children reassure her of their love and then turn in for the night, singing the song “I’ll See You Tonight in Dreamland.”

Their dreams are filled with every sight and smell which they have coveted for so long. They play in their dream with all of the toys they don’t have, and eat of the foods that they can only wish for. And then it’s morning.

Waking up and looking at their tattered clothes, they realize that it was all a dream; until they look out from their bedroom and see everything that was in their dreams assembled in the usually sparse living room. It seems that all of the town’s merchants have been watching these two children as they toiled daily to help provide for them-selves and their mother. And, as the children slept, these same merchants were preparing a veritable Christmas for them. This is a beautifully crafted and wonderfully conceived cartoon from the Fleischers. The message is pretty clear; every day is Christmas if you just help it along. 

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