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Saturday Matinee

Disney Cartoon #28, Winnie the Pooh Week: "Heffalumps & Woozles" (December 20, 1968) versus "Pink Elephants on Parade" (October 23, 1941)
by Albert Gutierrez

Beware, beware!  Be a very wary bear!  A Heffalump or Woozle is very confusel.  The Heffalump or woozle's very sly, sly, sly, sly!  Look out, look out!  Pink elephants on parade, here they come.  Hippety-hoppety!  They're here and there, pink elephants ev'rywhere!  If honey is what you covet, you'll find that they love it, because they guzzle up the thing you prize.  What'll I do? What'll I do?  What an unusual view!

Confused?  You won't be after this episode of "Soap" - er, this article of "Saturday Matinee"!  Hopefully someone in my reading audience still remembers the sitcom "Soap," otherwise that reference is entirely obscure.  Either way, Pooh Week is nearing its close, and so we take a look at a memorable song-and-dance scene from "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day."  In addition, we'll compare it to a memorable song-and-dance scene from Dumbo.  It's time for the Heffalumps, Woozles, and Pink Elephants to all come out and enjoy the parade.

In "Heffalumps and Woozles," Winnie the Pooh has fallen asleep after Tigger tells him of the honey-loving Heffalumps and Woozles.  He dreams - or nightmares - of the heffalumps and woozles coming to steal his honey, as they shapeshift into various forms while honey pots sing to Pooh.  They follow him about, constantly taking his honey away, all the while playing with honey as well.  Among the notable heffalumps and woozles featured are a yellow-and-green checkered heffalump, a woozle who turns his nose into a horn, and a heffalump who plays a harp made of honey.  My favorites are the woozles in the jack-in-the-box and the bumblebee heffalump, although the accordion heffalumps run a close second. Whatever their forms (and there are many), they all seem bent on one purpose: to take honey away from Pooh Bear.

However, hallucinatory creatures didn't originate with the heffalumps and woozles.  Twenty-seven years earlier, slightly similar pachyderms were featured in Dumbo's "Pink Elephants on Parade."  The young elephant drinks up from his trough, not knowing there's something special (alcohol) in the water.  He and Timothy then hallucinate a pink elephant forming from a large bubble, with the elephant multiplying, leading into a bizarre and strange montage of singing and dancing elephants.  They're not limited to pink elephants, as we see checkered elephants, one made entirely of heads, and even elephants with different patterns.  There's no rhyme or reason to their existence, they simply transform back and forth into various things before they all converge and split apart, morphing into the clouds of the background, with Dumbo asleep in a tree.

The animation style of both sequences differ greatly, whilst still sharing the same whimsical qualities that have caused many to compare them over the years.  In "Pink Elephants on Parade," we deal more with abstract concepts and styles of animation.  It's a sharp departure from the cartoony and traditional look of the rest of Dumbo, making "Pink Elephants" stand out even more.  There's no rhyme or reason to the pink elephants, they jump from plane to plane and have no set form, with the animation transitioning from scene to scene quickly.  By the sequence's end, so many types of pink elephants are all over the place that they seem to explode and we return to reality, unsure of what just happened.

In "Heffalumps and Woozles," however, we already know we're in a dream.  And Pooh's dream matches perfectly with the world he lives in, with animation of the same quality and style as the rest of the short.  The only thing out of the ordinary are the transforming heffalumps and woozles, yet they still feel very much at home within the entirety of the short.  Also, unlike "Pink Elephants on Parade," we have a firmly-established situation going on in Pooh's mind.  While we accept that it's a dreamlike state, we still know where we are in the story.  Pooh also plays an active part in his dream, allowing for the audience to be involved, as they can identify with Pooh as the only sign of normalcy among the craziness of heffalumps and woozles.

Personally, I grew up with the "Pink Elephants on Parade," and so I often enjoy that hallucination over "Heffalumps and Woozles."  However, I think the animators had a greater grasp on depicting imaginative creatures with the latter.  The sheer oddity of "Pink Elephants on Parade" makes for great animation, but it seems extraneous to the story and stands out as a four-minute excursion from the big picture.  Especially when we consider that about a minute into the song, Dumbo and Timothy disappear completely and we don't see them until after the pink elephants turn into clouds.  When we look at the heffalumps and woozles within "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day," it is firmly established that heffalumps and woozles are imagined creatures, a chaos that emerges from Pooh's sanity.  And until 2005's Pooh's Heffalump Movie, the audience was content to believe they were creations of Pooh's mind.  Thus, the "Heffalumps and Woozles" sequence feels more accepted within the story, whereas "Pink Elephants on Parade" serves as a welcome distraction.

"Pink Elephants on Parade" is found in Dumbo, obviously, which has had two previous DVD releases (2001's 60th Anniversary Edition & 2006's Big Top Edition), and will see a new 70th Anniversary Edition Blu-Ray and DVD release this coming September.  To get your fix of "Heffalumps and Woozles," it's featured in "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day," the middle act of 1977's The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.  "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day" was featured as a bonus short on the 2006 DVD for Pooh’s Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin, while Many Adventures has had a 25th Anniversary Edition DVD (2002) and a Friendship Edition DVD (2007).  There is no word yet on whether we'll see another home media release of the film.  One can hope it will be released this fall in tandem with Winnie the Pooh (2011).  Until then, have a Hundred Acre Wood Day!  



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