63. Balloon Land – Ub Iwerks

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SUMMARY: In a world where everything and everyone is a balloon, two brave young balloons take on the dreaded Pincushion Man.

WHY IT’S HERE: As the man partially responsible for the creation of Mickey Mouse, not to mention the man responsible for animating ‘The Skeleton Dance’, Ub Iwerks is one of the most important names in animation. And yet, when he left Disney to pursue his own career he ended up producing largely forgettable and forgotten cartoons, including the little-seen Flip the Frog series. Perhaps his best known short from these wilderness years is ‘Balloon Land’, a curious creation that clearly shows that Iwerks split with Disney did not completely diminish his creative powers. Set in a world where everyone and everything is a balloon, Iwerks unleashes a creepy villain known as the Pincushion Man on this fragile society. The story is fairly thin but the appeal is in the animation, which makes the inflatable creations on screen seem almost real enough to touch. The delicacy of the world is made unbearably clear as the anarchic bad guy begins popping things left, right and centre. ‘Balloon Land’ manages to strike a winning balance between sweetly charming and jarringly unsettling, making for a very unique, sadly forgotten short.

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