As a child, Walt Disney classic Dumbo always held a special place in my heart because I could identify with the overall story. Both Dumbo and I were separated from our mothers at birth, and both were ridiculed for being different. In the story, Dumbo is teased for having large ears and I was teased from kindergartner thru 2 grade for having no hair on my head. The reason for my abnormality was my childbirth was so traumatic that it took a lot of love and care from my grandmother for my hair to grow. I recall finding a place to hide during recess to avoid the kids teasing me and calling me a little boy. In about third grade, one night my grandmother read Dumbo to me and I the book to me and I remember being so inspired about how Dumbo overcame adversity.
Because of what I experienced growing up, I have made it a point to surround my daughter, Joy, with movies, friends and all of the above that will inspire her, encourage her to be kind and keep going even when all the odds. Walt Disney new live-action film Dumbo outstanding rendition of the classic. This month, I attended the press junket for the film in Los Angeles, California where the cast shared how they created the world of Dumbo which I found quite interesting.
Creating the world Walt Disney New Live Action Film Dumbo
Creating the CGI
Throughout the film, I couldn’t believe the Dumbo was not real and several other parts of the movie were created using CGI. Producer Katterli Frauenfelde shared with us how they created his character.
It started with Tim’s sketches . . . and everyone was involved. But basically, it was Tim’s eye that kept evolving towards how he wanted to see Dumbo. He didn’t want a photo real character. But he wanted something heightened. The work on the skin, eye, and movements and the flying was just his eye in collaborations with the people he worked with to create Dumbo. But it’s basically his vision of what Dumbo should be in the world that Rick Heinrichs and Colleen Atwood created and how he fits in there and fits in with the live-action family and circus and can bring out all the emotions that Dumbo should and does. ~Katterli Frauenfelde
Creating the Costumes
The costumes are exquisitely designed and the attention to detail is amazing. Costume Designer Colleen Atwood talked to us about how she designed costumes for a Busby Berkeley inspired scene in the film.
… I knew what Rick Heinrichs was going to do with the set… I knew what the choreography was going to be. So I chose the color to sort of contrast with the color of the area it was in, but to still kind of harkens to kind of circus in a sense. I used sort of the graphicness of black trim and black detail and one like black and one like white to further kind of push the sort of graphic quality that Berkeley stuff often had where you would turn and it’s a different thing and you turn the other way and it’sn another thing, which gave it another kind of level of visualization. Which I think earmarked those numbers back in the day and sort of helped sell this in that way ~ Colleen Atwood
Creating the Score
The music in Dumbo it absolutely mesmerizing. Composer Danny Elfman who is no stranger to doing triumphant themes for movies and one of my favorite composer shared with us how he captured the emotion of the film through his musical score.
When I wrote Dumbo’s theme, I wrote it as a bittersweet sad theme. I do try to put my themes a bit of an acid test. Which means I have the melody I like. Can I make it triumphant? Can I make it quirky? Can I make it silly? It’s like I’ve got to put it through each of these things. Whatever it is going to be asked to do, I need to know that it will do that… That’s part of my process. It’s like put it through all those things. And I learned okay. When it gets big, it’s going to go this way. It’s going to do this. And I didn’t know at that point there would be quite as much triumph. Very early on, Tim was like, I like that. And whenever Dumbo is in the air, it’s like do that thing. I go really? Don’t you think we should. No. Do that thing. He was very specific… He’s like, he’s flying. And the word he used the most in the score was soaring. He really wants to make sure that Dumbo soars. And I go, but don’t we want Dumbo to be heartbreaking. Oh, yeah, you got that, that’s fine. But I really want to make sure he soars. But when he leaves his mother. Yeah, yeah, that will be fine. He soars… There will be one element of the thing that he’s really focused on and the rest of it will be, that’s fine. You’re doing fine. It’s all fine. And so for me of course the fun part is not having seen it as a kid, I didn’t have a lot of attachment other than I knew that I saw it. Or actually when I got the call from Derek about doing it, I watched it. It’s the first time I had ever seen it from beginning to end. What was crazy was, Pink Elephants On Parade. I know that really well. I don’t know how I knew it. But I knew it. Casey Jr. Of course I know that. How do I know that? I didn’t see it as a kid. ~ Danny Elfman
Walt Disney Live Action Film Dumbo In Theaters March 29
From Disney and visionary director Tim Burton, the all-new grand live-action adventure “Dumbo” expands on the beloved classic story where differences are celebrated, family is cherished and dreams take flight. Circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) enlists former star Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) and his children Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins) to care for a newborn elephant whose oversized ears make him a laughingstock in an already struggling circus. But when they discover that Dumbo can fly, the circus makes an incredible comeback, attracting persuasive entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton), who recruits the peculiar pachyderm for his newest, larger-than-life entertainment venture, Dreamland. Dumbo soars to new heights alongside a charming and spectacular aerial artist, Colette Marchant (Eva Green), until Holt learns that beneath its shiny veneer, Dreamland is full of dark secrets.