Sunday, December 27, 2009

Peace on Earth

This is a wonderful cartoon!
Although is from 1939 it's still relevant today.
The following information was written on youtube by :

Peace On Earth (1939) Christmas Classic MGM War Cartoon. Academy Award Nominee for Best Short Subject (Cartoon), 1940. Originally Released on December 09, 1939.

On Christmas Eve, two squirrel children ask their grandfather what men are. He describes them, then narrates the story of how humanity destroyed itself by war, as chilling scenes of armed conflict play on the screen. After the last human dies, the animals take their war implements and build homes from them, to live forever in peace.

Peace on Earth is a one-reel 1939 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer cartoon short directed by Hugh Harman, about a post-apocalyptic world populated only by animals. The only cartoon ever nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize! It was broadcast in the US just after Germany had pre-emptively invaded Poland, a protest against Bush-Iraq-style pre-emptive wars, and before the US was attacked at Pearl Harbor and thus entered WWII.

At first glance this looks like just another typically Disney-esque cartoons featuring cute animals, but once you see those battle scenes you can see that it is so much more than that. This is an anti-war tale with well animated battle scenes that are scary as anything else that has been seen on the silver screen. Those scenes are very unsettling and tapped into the fears that many people held as Europe was at war with itself. This film was nominated for the 1939 Academy Award for an animated short feature (it lost to Disneys "The Ugly Duckling") and was also, according to Hugh Harmon, nominated for the 1940 Nobel Peace Prize. Unfortunately the 1940 Nobel Prizes were cancelled because of World War II, so it did not win or lose that award.

Fifteen years before this release, Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising were employees of Walt Disney -- in Kansas City. Disneys first animation studio was in that midwestern city and it was, ultimately, a failure. Following the companys demise -- and with dreams of becoming a live-action director -- Walt headed west. After shuffling around Los Angeles for a while, Disney realized that his best prospect for making a living was the cartoon business.

World War II was barely four months old when Peace landed on theater screens. Given the fact that a mood of patriotism and sacrifice was soon to grip the United States, the cartoons unapologetically anti-war stance is surprising. In the short, woodland creatures elebrate the Christmas season. Two squirrel children stumble over the lyric peace on earth/good will to men because they have no idea what men are. Grampa squirrel explains that all of the men are gone; they succumbed to the fever of war and annihilated one another. Woodland creatures rebuild civilization and mourn their loss.

Walt Disneys most notable cartoon series in those early days featured Oswald the Lucky Rabbit -- a character he did not own. The shorts were produced by a man named Charles Mintz and distributed by Universal Pictures. In 1928, after strong-arming Disney over an extended period with increasingly unfavorable business terms, Mintz took Oswald away from Walt -- along with most of Walts animators. Mintz housed these artists in a new studio designed expressly to produce the Oswald cartoons without Disneys involvement. Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising were two of the many defectors.

In a rare instance of karmic justice, Universal elected to create its own in-house cartoon studio and leave Charles Mintz high and dry. This turn of events left Harman and Ising unemployed, but they soon formed a partnership with producer Leon Schlesinger and founded Warner Brothers Animation. Harman launched a series called Looney Tunes and Ising a series called Merrie Melodies. Although these labels would one day feature such cartoon stars as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Porky Pig, Harman and Ising were not around to see it -- they departed Warner Brothers in 1933 in a dispute over production budgets.

In 1934, Harman and Ising helped found MGMs cartoon studio and proceeded to repeat history. They were fired as studio heads and were no longer in charge when MGM Animation achieved the things which made it famous (most notably the Tom and Jerry series of cartoons and surreal shorts of Tex Avery). MGM later rehired the men as directors, and it was under this arrangement that Peace on Earth was produced.

William Hanna and Joseph Barbera remade the cartoon in CinemaScope in 1955. This post-World War II version of the film, entitled Good Will to Men, featured updated and even more destructive forms of warfare technology such as flamethrowers, bazookas, and nuclear weapons. The new Hanna-Barbera version was also nominated for the Best Short Subjects Oscar.

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