Saturday Matinee: "Get A Horse" (November 27, 2013)
By Justin Smith
Another D23 Expo has come and gone, and if you were to ask me what the best part of the expo was, I will tell you one of the big highlights was easily "Walt DIsney Animation Studios Short Films Collection": a panel dedicated to 12 shorts film from Walt Disney Studios over the past 15 years, which was released on DVD and Blu-Ray Tuesday, August 18th together for the first time.
At first glance, this panel may seem rather minor in comparison to what else came out of D23 this year, as there were no announcement of new theme parks lands, no first looks at big tent pole movies and no appearances from either Harrison Ford or Johnny Depp, but as was pointed out at the panel, The Walt Disney Company started off as nothing more than a little cartoon studio that specialized in animated short films. Without a bunch a 7-minute cartoons from 9 decades ago, it�s safe to presume that the D23 Expo and everything they announced, even news related to other companies Disney would later purchase such as Marvel and Lucasfilm, would fail to even exist. As Walt Disney himself stated "I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing - that it was all started by a mouse." (Well, a rabbit, cat and live-action girl came before a mouse, but we'll let that fact slide by).
After quoting Walt's infamous line, they actually showed "Get A Horse," the Oscar-nominated short the proceeded Frozen and brought Mickey Mouse back to his roots.
For those two people out there who haven't seen "Get A Horse" yet, it opens like a black-and-white Mickey cartoon straight out of the 1920s. Mickey hops on a hay-wagon that's being pulled by Horace Horsecollar where he joins his musical friends, as well as help Minnie and Clarabelle Cow on the wagon. Everything goes fine until Peg-Leg Pete shows up behind them in a jalopy. After eyeing Minnie, he decides to snatch her and rams his car through the wagon when Mickey and Horace actually break the fourth wall, literally, where they find themselves in a modern-day theatre and are presented in color and a 2.51:1 aspect ratio. Using everything in the modern world to their advantage from smartphones to spinning the screen horizontally as though it were a flip-book, Mickey and Horace try to get back in their 1920s world to save Minnie from Pete, and thus save the day.
Having first seen "Get A Horse" in front of Frozen, my first impressions were honestly not very high. What started as fun and loving tribute to the Mickey shorts of the 20s and 30s very quickly became a gimmick, almost as a desperate attempt to try to prevent children from getting bored from a 7-minute black-and-white cartoon (as if a child being entertained by anything in black-and-white is impossible). It also probably didn't help that by being attached to Frozen, it was forever attached to such an overhyped and average movie. While I was curious about seeing it in 3D just to see how the layering aspect-ratios would translate, my disappointment in the story prevented me from ever getting around to it.
But, by watching the short at the expo with an appreciative audience and hearing director Lauren MacMullan and supervising animator Eric Goldberg talk about their challenges of keeping such simple and limited shapes inside the computer which has a tendency to make everything perfect. They even "moved the camera," where we saw the "front" of Mickey with a very narrow face and mohawk ears to demonstrate the difficulties of having characters be simple shapes in the computers. �We all had to unlearn everything we knew about animation, setting our minds back to 1928,� said Eric Goldberg. �The more imperfect we made the characters, the closer they looked in 3D to their original counterparts.� And it is hard to deny, it is really cool that they went back to use archived Mickey clips so that Walt Disney himself actually "voices" Mickey. On top of all of that, there's a great cameo at the end of the very end to be on the lookout for.
"Get A Horse" can be found on both the Blu-Rays for Frozen and the new "Walt Disney Studios.