159. Chicken Little – Clyde Geronimi

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SUMMARY: Chicken Little and his barnyard friends learn the hard way that you shouldn’t listen to anti-American propaganda.

WHY IT’S HERE: Although more attention tends to be heaped on ‘Educational for Death’ as an atypical and horrific piece of Disney propaganda, the brilliant ‘Chicken Little’ is much more jaw-droppingly unexpected and unforgettable. Using the old fable of the title character and his belief that the sky was falling down, ‘Chicken Little’ moulds that (equally unforgiving) story into a wartime context. The villain, who emerges graphically victorious, is a fox who reads passages from a book marked ‘Psychology’ but which are actually taken directly from ‘Mein Kampf’. The characters and action are largely comic but when we reach the climax of the film it turns shockingly grim, even as Disney stays true to the original story. The final image of the main characters’ wishbones as a wartime cemetery while the pot-bellied fox tells the shocked narrator not to believe everything he reads, is at once the most blackly comic moment in the Disney library and one of the most gutsy and effective endings to an animated short in living memory.

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