Friday, July 30, 2010

Now Showing: Disney's "Flowers and Trees"

On this day in 1932 Walt Disney's Flowers and Trees - remembered by history as both the first cartoon short to use Technicolor and the first winner of the Academy Award in the cartoon short category - made its debut on movie screens across the United States. This memorable addition to Disney's Silly Symphonies franchise was directed by Burt Gillett and released by United Artists.

The cartoon short had already been in production in black and white when Disney saw tests of three-strip Technicolor being conducted by Herbert Kalmus; not only was Flowers and Trees converted into colour but so were subsequent Silly Symphonies, although those cartoons featuring Mickey Mouse would remain black and white until 1935's The Band Concert.

Savvy businessman that he was, Disney held a monopoly on three-strip Technicolor until September 1935, forcing his chief competitiors Ub Iwerks* and Max Fleischer to use the inferior two-strip Cinecolor process.

*The rivalry between Ub Iwerks and Walt Disney is a long and storied one... Iwerks was one of the first Disney animators, but Disney's perfectionism led to his resignation; Iwerks went on to found his own company, which failed, and then found great success with Warner Bros. and Leon Schlesinger Productions before returning to Disney in the 1940s - where he perfected the process whereby animation and live-action could co-exist on the screen.
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