Sunday, December 15, 2013

Uncle Tom and Little Eva 1932

Uncle Tom and Little Eva (1932)


Walt Disney's Steamboat Willie (1928) was the earliest sound cartoon. There's very little dialogue in Uncle Tom & Little Eva (in fact, neither Tom nor Eva speaks at all), though the sound track includes a rich medley of 19th century minstrel songs. The cartoon opens with scenes of a "southland" that also derives from minstrelsy: steamboats, slaves dancing in a cotton field, watermelons, and  "Eva" appears only briefly, as a hippopotamus who cries when Legree takes Tom and Topsy away to be sold at auction.

Just over two minutes of the 7-minute cartoon depict Eliza's flight across the ice, with Legree and his bloodhounds in pursuit. Interestingly, it is Tom who saves Eliza (at the same time that he frees himself and attacks Legree), though the use of "Dixie" and the old minstrel show joke about blacks and chickens at the end keeps white America's racial stereotypes pretty firmly in place. []

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