Monday, September 1, 2014

Silent Films and Cartoon Clips

The cartoon clips, "Ending to 'The Bullwinkle Show' 1963/1964 Season" and the Dudley Do-Right episode "The Disloyal Canadians" intentionally allude to themes present in the silent films "FLICKER FLASH BACKS SILENT FILM HIGHLIGHTS" and "Vintage Women Tied to Railroad Tracks (stock footage/ archival footage)." Primarily, those themes include heroic and villainy characters, a damsel in distress, and the idea that "good always conquers evil." The cartoons however are a satire to the films, in that although these classic themes are there, the cartoons meddle with these stereotypes to create a humorous reaction.
The main difference between the silent films and the cartoons are the times in culture in which they are made. Although the vintage video does not specify a date, the Flicker Flash Backs are from 1908, and the silent films probably predate these. The archaic nature of these videos represent a culture that concentrated on a dramatic culture that believed in two truths, good and evil, with little to no middle ground. This is the same type of mind-set and propaganda that would lead to support for World War I in 1914, the Allies being good and the Axis Powers being evil. However, life cannot be boiled down so easily, said best by Jake Gyllenhaal as Donnie in “Donnie Darko” to his simplistic teacher Mrs. Farmer: “You can't just lump everything into these two categories and then just deny everything else.” It is also ironic that the silent films are only in two colors and only concentrate on these boundaries, whereas the cartoons are in many colors and touch on how there can be a mix of the two. For example, in Dudley Do-Right, he is taxed with getting himself kicked out of service by performing a horrendous act so that he may go undercover and foil the plans of the antagonist Snidely Whiplash. Also, in the Bullwinkle episode, as Rocky and Bullwinkle are walking away with the money, the evil-doers already down for the count, Bullwinkle says “Sure, in a cartoon we always have a happy ending you know,” right before he accidentally walks off a cliff. This is ironic in that what happens contradicts what Bullwinkle expects. But also take note that the dialogue that follows goes a little deeper:
                Rocky: “Gee, an unhappy ending.”
                Bullwinkle: “Yuh, this must be one of those adult cartoons!”

The irony of the situation in both cartoons is what makes them humorous, but the ideas within them show a dynamic change in the common ways of thinking. Dudley must do wrong in order to do right, and Bullwinkle displays how the victor does not simply “walk off arm-in-arm into a cartoon sunset without a scratch.” The satire of the cartoons is there to display how grievous the mindsets of the silent films were, mindsets that plunged the world into WW I, WW II, and arguably the Cold War. These are more mature ideas, supported by Bullwinkle referencing his own plot as “adult.”

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