Imagining a Better Future by Re-imagining the Past

Monday, June 25, 2012

Children’s Dieselpunk Media

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Probably the best example of children’s Dieselpunk animation was the Disney classic Who Framed Roger Rabbit. This Disney mix of live and animation was the first animated production to win three Academy Awards and is a great way to introduce children to Dieselpunk.

Cats Don’t Dance

This cute Warner’s Brothers animated movie follows a talented cat who wants to break into the movies during the late 1930s. He soon discovers that Hollywood is only interested in humans and not animals. The villain in the cartoon is a scheming child star Darla Dimple obviously inspired by Shirley Temple who will do anything to make sure it stays that way.

Unofficial Cats Don’t Dance Fan Site


Several Dieselpunks have commented on forums that this Disney animated children’s television show started them down the path of Dieselpunk.

This short animated series used many of the characters from the Disney animated classic The Jungle Book. The animated cartoon centers on the bush pilot Baloo the bear along with an orphan boy Kit Cloudkicker and their air cargo freight business as they battle pirates along with Raiders of the Lost Ark style adventures.

Fantasia 2000: Rhapsody In Blue

Once again, we have to give credit to Disney. In this case, for their animated movie Fantasia 2000, specifically the animated short made to the Gershwin classic Rhapsody in Blue.

Fantasia 2000 - Rhapsody in Blue by R174

A Hard Life
Back in February 2011, I wrote about a short clip of an animated feature titled A Hard Life. The short clip involves a cricket and a hamster that go to New York City in the 1930s to find the hamster's family. During the short they meet a fly as well as a bizarre mouse who are both obsessed with a lamp with the clip ending with a brief scene involving the famed Cotton Club. Unfortunately, the production company never made the feature length version of this and this short clip is all that we have.

Chicken Run

Though set in the 1950s, Chicken Run is clear salute to the World War II film classic the Great Escape. Made by Aardman Animations, which is best known for the Wallace and Gromit short films, along with Dreamworks, this animated movie follows attempts by chickens to break out of the POW style chicken farm owned by farmers Mr. and Mrs. Tweedy. Suddenly their hopes are raised when a rooster by the name of Rocky appears to fly into the camp and promises, under threat of blackmail by the lead chicken Ginger, to teach the other chickens how to fly and to help them escape. They become desperate when Mrs. Tweedy acquires a machine that will convert the farm from an egg farm to one producing chicken pies.

Do you know of a children’s Dieselpunk animated production that I overlooked? If so, then please leave a comment or email me and I would be glad to post about it here on my blog.


Anonymous said...

perhaps "Valiant", the WWII pigeon animated film:

Larry Amyett, Jr said...

Thanks! I very much appreciate your idea.

Ed McKeogh said...

Disney's "Atlantis: The Lost Empire" also falls within the scope of dieselpunk for the younger set.

Larry Amyett, Jr said...

Thanks, Ed! Much appreciated.

Ed McKeogh said...

I continue to think about this topic, if only because I'm the father of two young girls and have spent WAAAAAY too much time immersed in media targeted at them.

I want to include Disney's "Bedknobs & Broomsticks" in this list, even though the story occurs during WW II. The design of the film--from the costumes to sets--is great reference for a dieselpunk aesthetic, especially that of dark Piecraftian.

To a lesser degree, I also wanted to mention two episodes of The Backyardigans because of the exceptional genre-appropriate music stylings. "Scared of You" features jump blues music, and "Whodunit" has music imitating that of Django Reinhardt (aka gypsy jazz, gypsy swing or hot club jazz). The above are guaranteed mood-lifters.

Larry Amyett, Jr said...

Wow!, lots of great suggestions. Looks like I have the making of a sequel. :)


Ed McKeogh said...

I need to correct myself. I should have written that "Bedknobs & Broomsticks" is better attuned to Ottensian dieselpunk. However gritty the setting (which, filtered through the Disney aesthetic, is never too terrible), the movie ends on a hopeful note as good triumphs over evil in a gratifying way.