Disney’s First Movie…

The more I read and research the story of Little Red Riding Hood, the more obsessed I become, or is it the other way round? Anyway hunger begets hunting begets knowledge begets hunger begets…hunting begets…

A very strange and trippy movie that is supposedly the first one Walt Disney ever made, circa 1922. You can read more about the history of this 7 minute animated cartoon here.

So here it is, I have borrowed the plot below the movie from www.filmthreat.com

“Little Red Riding Hood” begins rather badly. The scene is a kitchen where a zaftig mother is throwing dough into the air while a cat shoots at the dough with a rifle. As a result of the feline marksman, doughnuts get created. While this is happening, a laughing old bald man with a long white beard watches from a picture frame hanging on the wall.  The man’s beard hangs out of the picture frame, which makes it unclear whether he is real or a bizarre three-dimensional image come to life.

The dough shooting seems to go on endlessly, until the cat decides to taste one of the doughnuts. He immediately gets sick and drops dead.  Nine ghostly spirits parade from his body (complete with a numerical countdown in the corner of the screen) before two feline paramedics arrive to carry the corpse away.

The mother (seemingly unbothered by the death in her kitchen) calls to Red Riding Hood to deliver the doughnuts to Grandma.  Our heroine goes to “Red Riding Hood’s Garage” (what?) and drives off in a car that is powered by a dog chasing sausage links hanging off a stick above his head. When the car gets a flat tire, Red inflates a doughnut with a few vigorous blows and uses it as a spare tire.

If that’s not weird enough, the wolf shows up. Forget the traditional canine villain – this wolf is a dapper male in a top hat who drives a fancy convertible. He stops and engages Red in conversation, and then he decides to take advantage of the fair lass.  He drives off in a wacky short cut to Grandma’s house – at one point, his convertible careens off a cliff and the tires start flapping like wings!  He gets to Grandma’s house and discovers a note on the door that says the old gal is at the movies.  The wolf sneaks into the house, and when Red shows up the house literally begins to shake and jump in violent tumult.

The dog that powered Red’s car witnesses what happens and runs off for help.  A handsome young aviator is standing by his airplane and the dog comes to him for assistance.  The pilot and the pooch take off and lower a skyhook on Grandma’s house, causing the entire structure to become dislodged.  The pilot swoops down to rescue Red while the wolf gets in his convertible to escape.  However, the pilot lowers his skyhook on the wolf’s car and brings it into the air before dropping it in a lake.  Red and her aerial hero begin smooching while the dog covers his eyes in embarrassment.

The people at Film Threat are pretty scathing of this movie, but it does have some interest and I dont think it should be so lightly dismissed! For example, flight was extremely new and I guess it was like the science fiction of the day. Today we have time machines, then they had a flying machine. The car that seems to changes it’s own wheels, well, we all want one of those. It’s like The Wrights brothers meet James Bond except he hasn’t been written yet. The grandmother is totally unphased by the cat that shoots and then steals the doughnuts, she seems very much in control, while grandpa is resigned to a picture on the wall. Red Riding Hood owns the garage too, a touch of feminism going on here maybe? And then Red appears to be playing with the faeries in the wood, the same faeries that seem to be hanging around in the garden when Grandma is calling Red. Or am I just being fanciful again…

Enjoy!