Exploration in Imagination: The Walt Disney Silly Symphony Cartoons and American Animation in the 1930s




Wagner, Kendall

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American animated cartoons were born with motion pictures, but they grew and changed dramatically in the era of the 1930s. The most important innovator was Walt Disney; his Mickey Mouse cartoons were wildly popular during the decade of the Great Depression. Although Mickey was culturally significant to Americans and was the cornerstone for the studio’s financial success, it was the lesser-known Silly Symphony cartoons that were the most essential in the development of animation. My presentation argues that without the existence of the Symphonies, American animation would not have developed as it had. The Symphonies acted as a testing ground for new techniques in animation like full-spectrum color and the multiplane camera. Ultimately, the Symphonies were responsible for elevating the art of animation in the 1930s, contributed to the launch of the animated film industry, and assisted in the creation of films and characters immortalized in the American collective memory. (Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Katherine Landdeck)


Creative Arts and Research Symposium