In the 1930s, the Walt Disney company took on the story of “The Pied Piper” in a seven minute short for Silly Symphonies. The story is simple and easy to follow. Rats are overrunning a village. The Pied Piper shows up, says he can get rid of the rats and then does it with his piping. When the King refuses to pay the Piper the agreed upon price, the piper threatens to lead all the children out of town as well, then does so, again with his piping. The children follow the Piper to Happyland where they play all day.
In retrospect, this is a very disturbing tale. The Pied Piper is the wronged party in the story, but he ends up leading all the children in the town away. Given what parents try to teach children about not talking to or following strangers when they try to lead you away, this may not be the best story. The Pied Piper isn’t really a hero at all. Yes, the King should pay the Piper the amount that was promised to get rid of the rats, but in the end, the Piper ends up doing something worse than the King. Old time children’s stories are always really weird when you take the time to think about them and this one is no different. Disney likes to put a nicer, happier spin on the stories, but they always still seem to be disturbing.
On the plus side, while the story is disturbing the animation is superb. When you consider this short was made in 1933, it still looks beautiful. Disney was always at the forefront of animation and you can see why even back in the 30s. The colors are bright and powerful. They pop out at you when you watch this short. While I’m sure it has been remastered, it looks amazing.
I love going back and watching these shorts from the early days of animation. It’s really cool to see the work that was done, even if the source material is somewhat questionable. Without these shorts, we don’t have the amazing 2D work of the Disney Renaissance or the amazing 3D work of Pixar and the Disney Revival. While I’m not going to watch these shorts as often as I’m going to watch movies like “Aladdin,” “Toy Story” or “Big Hero 6,” I appreciate the work that was put into them that makes them important in the grand scheme of animation and of the Walt Disney company itself. They are a nice look back at what the company was and how far it has come.
Ranking: 3 stars out of 5
What did you think of “The Pied Piper?”