A Classic Case Of Downsizing
Something strange is abreast with Knickknack, the critically acclaimed 1989 short that precedes Disney/Pixar’s Finding Nemo at theaters nationwide.
The short follows the hapless attempts of a lonely snow-globe snowman to escape his domain and join a plastic Miami beach bunny. The movie was released on a G-rated 1996 video collection called Tiny Toy Stories. But in that version, the Miami beauty and a mermaid who appears at the end of the short were more well-endowed than they are today.
“In the original, the girls have breasts the size of large grapefruit,” says animation fan Raymond Tucker of Greensboro, N.C. “In the new version, the breasts just aren’t there.”
Though Disney and Pixar aren’t talking, fans say the reduction reduces the humor of the short.
Paul Poroshin, 23, an animation buff from Old Bridge, N.J., suspects the women were deflated to make the short more politically correct.
“It can be argued that this breast removal does nothing to the story or that it’s just some sexual male thing, but to me it’s all about intent and the vision of an artist,” Poroshin says. “The snowman is after a large-breasted girl. His facial expressions tell it all, especially when, in the end, he dunks in the fish tank and gets trapped again.”
Though it’s not clear whether Pixar or Disney made the change, Disney has a history of making subtle changes when reissuing a classic that includes aspects that might be less savory to modern viewers:
√Ø In the short The Three Little Pigs (1933), the wolf originally tried to get into a pig’s house by pretending to be a Jewish salesman, with a mask and a Yiddish accent. The scene was re-animated, probably in the 1940s, to make the wolf look and sound more like he does elsewhere in the cartoon.
√Ø When the feature Melody Time (1948) was released for the first time on DVD and video in 2000, Pecos Bill’s omnipresent cigarette was digitally removed from his mouth in every frame. Gone is the memorable sequence in which he rolls one and grabs a thundercloud to light the cigarette with a lightning bolt.
√Ø Even in the supposedly “uncut, restored” Fantasia (1940) released on DVD in 2000, a black “centaurette,” the servant of a white centaurette, has been eliminated, according to animation historian Jerry Beck.
“These films need to be treated like classic films, not kids’ fodder,” says Beck, editor of and author of the upcoming book Outlaw Animation. “Would they cut a frame from The Wizard of Oz or Citizen Kane? No.”
Ironically, Beck says, Disney treats its classic cartoons better than other studios. “Disney is the only company to treat these films with a lot of respect,” he says. He singles out Disney’s ongoing DVD series Walt Disney Treasures (sample titles: The Complete Goofy, Mickey Mouse in Black and White, Silly Symphonies)as an example of well-done cartoon reissues.
The series includes the censored version of Pigs but offers a glimpse of the original with commentary by film critic Leonard Maltin.