Sunday, March 2, 2008

Silly Symphonies Part IV: The Old Mill

The Old Mill was released to theatres by RKO Radio Pictueres on November 5, 1937. The film depicts the natural community of animals populating an old abandoned windmill in the country, and how they deal with a violent thunderstorm that nearly destroys their habitat.

Like many of the later Silly Symphonies, The Old Mill was a testing-ground for advanced animation techniques. Marking the first use of Disney's multiplane camera
, the film also incorporates realistic depictions of animal behavior, complex lighting and color effects, depictions of rain, wind, lightning, ripples, splashes and reflections, three-dimensional rotation of detailed objects, and the use of timing to produce specific dramatic and emotional effects. All of the lessons learned from making The Old Mill would subsequently be incorporated into Disney's feature-length animated films, especially 1937's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

The Old Mill won the 1937 Academy Award for Best Short Subjects: Cartoons
. In 1994 it was voted #14 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field.

The Walt Disney Classics Collection released The Old Mill (pictured above), a Numbered Limited Edition of 750 sculpted by Larry Nikolai as the second release in Silly Symphony Series which made its debut in February, 2007.

The Old Mill is very reminiscent of the Enchanted Places, introduced in 1995, beautifully crafted sculptures that recreated unforgettable film settings made of a special blend of resin and alabaster. Unique touches, termed "plussing" add to the incredible level of detail found in every sculpture. Oil and water based paints are used to convey textures, shadows and special effects. The Old Mill is plussed with pewter, wire, felt and wind sails that actually turn. Included with each sculpture are instructions for the windmill assembly.

For your viewing pleasure (courtesy of is The Old Mill with an introduction by Walt Disney:

The Old Mill is a Silly Symphonies Cartoon ©Disney


Matthew said...

I remember being incredibly impressed with this short when I saw it for the first time during a film class in college. It's still one of my top favorite Silly Symphonies.

The WDCC piece does this short proud. The setting is wonderful and the detail on the sails is magnificent!

Thank you, WDCC, for bringing one of the most beautiful SS to life! said...

Has to be one of the worst ideas of all of WDCC to make this sculpture..
WHY??? There is so much more from the genius of Silly Symphonies but this one????

Duckman said...

Mark, you asked "WHY??? There is so much more from the genius of Silly Symphonies but this one????"

If you clicked on the YouTube link included in this entry, Walt's opening comments talking about The Old Mill citing it as being invalueable as an experiment and a success in its own right, therefore have to disagree in your feelings of it being a bad choice. If you haven't, I recommend you check out the clip.

I agree 100% with Matthew's comments in not only did The Old Mill turn out as a magnificent sculpture, it also is nice to have such a piece of Disney history in our collections. I personally feel this series appeals and caters to the more die-hard Disney fan. JTDO.

Matthew said...

The thing that comes across so vividly in this short is that the Mill itself is a living, breathing character!

To imbue an inanimate object with such life is genious!

Herc said...

I have to totally disagree with The Old Mill is CLASSIC DISNEY and totally changed the way animation was created with the multiplane cameras. It holds a dear place in most Disney enthusiasts' hearts. It was the perfect choice to be added. Surprised that it wasn't the first release of the series but can totally understand to get people hooked on the series with the wonderful Ugly Duckling. It brought back the good old days of having The Enchanted Places in the line.