Despite what the title might suggest, this was not a sequel, it’s meant to be read as “Goliath the Second” rather than as “Goliath 2”. (Well, we all know Goliath 2 is Nelson Muntz in Simpsons Bible Stories).
Goliath II was a Disney animated short released in 1960, and the title character is a baby elephant who is named after his big, strong father, Goliath the first.
However, he can’t hope to compete with his father or even follow in his footsteps because he is too small, as in he’s about the same size as a mouse! His father is disappointed by him, he can push down trees, Golitah II can’t even push down a flower. His mother is loving towards her son, and tells him that things will work out fine. A tiger wants to eat an elephant, and Goliath II is the only one small enough for him to attempt catching, and he spends some time trying to eat Goliath II, but his mother protects him, eventually throwing the tiger into the mouth of a crocodile. (He escapes, but apparently runs away). After Goliath II runs away during the night and needs to be rescued again, he is seen as a disgrace by the rest of the elephant herd. However, soon after the herd encounters a mouse, which they are terrified of, because, well, this is a cartoon. But Goliath II being the same size as the mouse manages to fight it off, and becomes a hero for the herd.
I don’t think a lot of people have seen this short before, but if you do you will probably get a sense of déjà vu. It uses A LOT of recycled animation, and some of the new animation from the short itself was later recycled in other feature-length Disney cartoons.
Recycling animation is nothing out of the ordinary, it has been done all the time, and it’s understandable considering how laborious a process hand drawn animation is. But in the 1960s Disney didn’t have much money, so they really had to cut costs. There was also the introduction of the Xerox process of animating, which allowed studios to copy pencil drawings onto animation cells meaning they didn’t have to go through inking, which was expensive, but gave the cartoons the lush, high quality associated with Disney. This is why a lot of Disney animated films released in the 1960s, ’70s and up to the early ’80s before computerised animation came in, had a “sketchy” look, where you can still see the pencil outlines. It’s also probably contributed to why recycling of animation increased during this time, and Goliath II has the distinction of being the first cartoon produced using the Xerox process.
It was directed by Wolfgang Reitherman, who directed most of the Disney animated films from the “Xerox” era, including One Hundred and One Dalmations, Robin Hood and The Jungle Book. Apparently he was, for whatever reason, a big fan of reusing old animation. There are many YouTube videos showing the recycling of animation and sounds in Disney animations of this era. Even as a kid I noticed some of it, which may be because I was a nerdy kid. But it never bothered me, I just assumed it was a sort “style” they were going for. Most of the recycling of animation went unnoticed by most people until fairly recently. Most of the films were made decades apart and before even home video was around, but in the modern day where the means to look at videos second by second is easily available and with the internet allowing for mass communication, now it’s fairly well documented.
Goliath II is interesting because, like most Disney shorts, it was a way for the animators to experiment with different techniques, so that they could use them in feature films. This was an attempt to see if using Xerox process would work well, and some of that was if they could reuse some footage.
There is a lot recycled from many different Disney cartoons. Animation from Dumbo appears, which isn’t surprising, considering that film also stars a baby elephant and involves him being ostracised from the herd, albeit circus elephants as opposed to jungle elephants. Animation such as Goliath II’s mother comforting him was taken from the ‘Baby Mine’ sequence. His mother looks very like Mrs. Jumbo. Goliath II falling into a puddle of mud was also taken from a scene of Dumbo doing the same thing. A brief moment from the “Elephant pyramid” scene in Dumbo makes an appearance, Goliath II’s call to his mother is the same as Dumbo’s call to his mother, and then there’s the ending of the short, where a mouse sticks his tongue out and pulls faces frightening the elephant herd causing them to scatter and hide. The last one is taken from when Timothy, Dumbo’s mouse friend, does it. The mouse in this one even talks a bit like Timothy, but unlike him he isn’t a friend to the baby elephant, he tries to beat him up!
A bird in a nest who is startled and tries to gather all her eggs in case they drop was from Alice In Wonderland, here redrawn as a more exotic looking bird, a toucan possibly? But the animation is used not once, not twice, but three times!
Some of the characters aren’t even traced over with new characters, they are just transplanted wholesale. The most noticeable is the Crocodile from Peter Pan. His movements and appearance are exactly the same, he’s just painted a darker green. He even has a similar role, in that he’s the antagonist of the antagonist. In Peter Pan he wants to eat Captain Hook, in this he tries to eat the mouse and the tiger.
Speaking of the tiger, he too is taken from an earlier short, Tiger Trouble which starred Goofy. Then there are three different owls from three different films, Bambi, Sleeping Beauty, and The Adventures Of Icabod Crane and Mr. Toad.
But this film didn’t just make use of recycled animation, it became a source of animation to recycle for later films. The most obvious one is The Jungle Book, released in 1967. The herd of elephants here very closely resembles the herd in The Jungle Book, and the animation of the elephants marching and the scene of them colliding into each other like a car pile-up (which itself was used twice in this cartoon) was later reused in The Jungle Book. In fact, in some ways this short feels like it was a prototype for The Jungle Book, with both being set in the wild in India, and having similar characters. Goliath and Goliath II look like forerunners for Colonel Hathi and his son from The Jungle Book, and both Goliath II and Hathi Junior have the same trumpet sound. The story of this cartoon was by Bill Peet, who had worked on many Disney animations over the years, and had apparently always wanted to do The Jungle Book. He did eventually work on the film when it was been made, but he ended up leaving the production and the company altogether after a heated row with Walt Disney because of creative differences; Peet wanted the film to be darker and closer to the original Rudyard Kipling novel.
This cartoon would make a good drinking game. Drink every time you see something that was used in another Disney film. You could even add coincidences, like the fact it is narrated by Sterling Holloway, who voiced many Disney characters, including Winnie The Pooh, the Cheshire Cat in Alice In Wonderland and the stork in Dumbo. There’s also the fact that the tiger is named Raja, the same name as Princess Jasmine’s pet tiger from Aladdin.
This cartoon is fun to see nowadays as a mash-up of many elements from different Disney films, but does it hold up in its own right? Well…. sort of. The story is the usual “underdog saves the day and gets to the top” one which Disney and practically every film studio ever have done, but that’s because it’s a story people love. The animation is OK. But even if you ignore the recycling, Goliath II’s size is inconsistent. Sometimes he’s the size of a mouse, other times he’s smaller than butterflies and snails. I know you can quite big invertebrates, but it still looks weird. Also the concept that an elephant could ever been that small might be hard to get your head round.
There’s a lot I like about this cartoon. Elephants were my favourite animal when I was growing up. The Crocodile was my favourite character in Peter Pan (seriously!), and I like him in this cartoon as he is essentially reprising the same role. Raja is scrawny and more like an overgrown cat than a tiger, he’s actually almost sympathetic with his bumbling attempts to get an easy meal. The mouse, on the other hand, is a massive jerk. Timothy in Dumbo scared the elephants because they had ostracised Dumbo, this mouse does it just for the sake of it. Then he gets into a fight with Goliath II and they end up on the ledge of a cliff, with the crocodile snapping at them, and he tries to kick Goliath II off! Then when they get back on he tries to throw him over the edge! Goliath II manages to turn it around and has the mouse dangling by his tail. Goliath II decides that he isn’t going to drop him, but I kind of wanted Raja to come back and eat the mouse.
Goliath II is fine for what it is, but most interesting to see because of all the links to Disney feature films.