Friday, December 25, 2015

The Making Of Mickey's Christmas Carol

Merry Christmas to you all. I figured I should write something special for the Holidays. Definitely something animation oriented.

There have been a lot of animated Christmas specials made over the years, like How The Grinch Stole Christmas, A Charlie Brown Christmas, all that Rankin/Bass crap, that sort of thing. However, one that comes to mind just as much as those other specials to me, is Mickey's Christmas Carol.

How many people were introduced to Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol through this cartoon? Well, I can certainly say I was. Even watching it all these years later, it still holds up as being an incredibly enjoyable take on the story. One thing that should be noted is that, for something that squeezes the story into under a half-hour, it still has a lot of entertainment value. The animation is energetic and full of spirit, the writing's clever and funny, and the emotional moments manage to hit the mark. Plus, you can't go wrong with Scrooge McDuck playing the part of Ebenezer Scrooge. It's definitely one of my favorite takes of the story. That opening song, in particular, still sticks with me.

My little sister has this cartoon on DVD among her Christmas DVDs. The DVD in question had Mickey's Christmas Carol along with a few Christmas-related Disney cartoons that came after the main feature.

There's just one problem with the DVD: There's no Behind-The-Scenes features!

To give you an idea of the period this was made, it was an incredibly turbulent time for Disney. Most of the old pros had passed away or retired by this point (though there was a credit for Eric Larson as animation consultant on the short's credits,) and the new guard was still trying to find their voice. Mickey's Christmas Carol was first released in 1983 along with a re-release of The Rescuers, and it was Mickey Mouse's first short in 30 years by that point. I actually consider it something of a transitionary film, because this was where then up-and-coming animators like Mark Henn and Glen Keane got to really stretch their wings without most of the Nine Old Men's involvement. Two years later, the failure of The Black Cauldron would cause the heads to question whether it was worth keeping the animation unit on board, but after The Great Mouse Detective and Oliver & Company made a considerable amount of money at the box office, they relented and let the animators stay. This, of course, led to the smash success of The Little Mermaid at the end of the decade and the start of Disney's Renaissance period. (Want to learn more? Watch the documentary Waking Sleeping Beauty. It's a very insightful look into this period of Disney history.)

So to rectify this situation about the lack of Behind The Scenes features on the Mickey's Christmas Carol DVD, I figure I'd share a couple of things I found. First is the featurette for the making of the film, which can be found on the 1984 VHS of Mickey's Christmas Carol, but was thankfully put on Youtube for all to see:

Michael Paraza also talked some about the making of the short on his blog, Ink And Paint Club: Memories Of The House Of Mouse. If you have some time to kill, go over there and give it a read. And give the original special a watch, if you haven't already.

Hope you all enjoy your holiday season!

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