Silly Symphonies are some of the best short animated cartoons ever produced. They ran from 1929 to 1939, and seventy five were created by Disney before they were discontinued. Seeing as October and Halloween are right around the corner, a review of the very first Silly Symphony is in order. It is a spooky short called “The Skeleton Dance.”
“The Skeleton Dance” is a black and white silent cartoon that runs for almost six minutes. It’s a macabre Halloween treat featuring dancing skeletons, strange animals, sound effects, and a dark soundtrack.
At the beginning of the short, lightning strikes in the night and the music plays like a bang of thunder. Two wide eyes are suddenly blinking. When the camera pans out, it is revealed to be the eyes of an owl. It sucks in air and blows up its small body like a balloon. It then lets out a whistle and shrinks back down. Suddenly a branch that looks like a skeletal arm attempts to grab the alarmed owl.
Elsewhere, the bats are flying and the bell of a church is literally being blown in and out of the steeple. A tarantula dangles down from a tree while a dog and a couple of cats make noises in the cemetery. As the two cats fight with each other a skeleton arises from underneath a grave and comes between them. Thus begins the skeleton dance.
Soon, three other skeletons arise from the ground and all four begin dancing in the cemetery. They dance along to the rhythm of the soundtrack. Parts of the dance are actually very cheery. First, the skeletons hold hands and appear to be playing ring around the rosy. They then let go of each other and all twirl individually with one of their bony hands on their heads. When they all let for the last time, a couple of skeletons with wide smiles take turns elongating their bones and shrinking themselves down. Before long, those two start taking turns riding each other like pogo sticks.
The skeletons also play instruments. One has his spinal cord and rib cage played like a xylophone in order to match the symphony. Another skeleton plays percussion by clacking his bones together. Another decides to play a string instrument by subduing a cat and using the cat’s tail as a string and a skeleton bone as a bow.
But when a rooster crows the fun and games all stop. The skeletons respond to the dire music and realize they must get back into the ground quickly. In order to see if they make it back into the ground, you can watch the video on YouTube.