Disney is prepared to go full bore this year with the live-action remakes. After the success of Cinderella in 2015 and Beauty and the Beast in 2017, this year no less than three live-action remakes are coming to the big screen: Dumbo, Aladdin, and The Lion King. The first of these will be Dumbo, which arrives in theaters at the end of next month. This weekend, Disney released a special sneak-peek with a new live-action Dumbo trailer which will hit everyone who ever dreamed of flying right in the feels.
Dumbo is one of the films from back in what is considered Disney’s "Golden Age." Originally released in 1941, the story was only the fourth Disney animated film ever released. It focuses on the story of a young elephant, "Jumbo Jr." who is nicknamed Dumbo by his co-workers at the circus for his innocent ways and foolish dreams. He’s also teased mercilessly for his giant ears, which turn out to be his secret weapon. As he discovers, those ears double as wings making it so the little elephant can fly.
Due to when the film was released, during the heart of World War II, the film was not a box office smash, but it was the most successful of Disney’s 1940s era films. More importantly, it was one of the very first released on home video in the 1980s, making it a hit all over again for a generation of young millennials.
It’s been evident since the very first trailer, with the remake of the "Baby Mine" theme, everything about this film is aiming to hit this same generation right in the feels. But unlike say, Beauty and the Beast or The Lion King, this is not a film aiming to hit those feels by enacting a shot-for-shot remake of the original.
Dumbo came out at a time when TV wasn’t prevalent in every household. Like the original Cinderella, there’s no "original trailer" for this movie floating around on YouTube for Disney to recreate. What was released at the time isn’t anything that made a deep impression on young viewers. Also, like Cinderella, Dumbo is being directed by an auteur. In Cinderella‘s case it was Kenneth Branagh. In this case, Dumbo is directed by Tim Burton. He was never going to settle for recreating a cartoon in real life shot for shot.
(Plus, let no one forget the original Dumbo has some seriously racist tropes that would never fly in 2019 — and shouldn’t have been allowed back then.)
The result is a film loosely based on the feeling of the initial movie, with the loss of Dumbo’s mother, and the miracle of the elephant who can fly as the central premise. Though some may worry how the new film will fare, one can only hope this far more loose interpretation of the 1940s classic is a huge hit. Perhaps then, Disney will loosen up over trying to remake the 1990s era cartoons hits so closely and let the remakes actually update the stories for a new 21st-century audience.
Dumbo flies into theaters on March 29, 2019.
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