Dumbo is one of those cartoon films that I watched as a kid but didn't entirely understand. I simply watched for entertainment purposes; the film is colorful, animated, funny, enjoyable, etc. What was there not to like for a younger audience like myself? However, re-watching the film in class for the first time in probably a decade, made me conscious of the many underlying themes in the film pertaining to both animal and human cruelty. Not only does the film target human mistreatment of animals, it also is an analogy for human mistreatment of fellow humans. The animals in the film are all anthropomorphized; given human qualities to represent the cruel nature of humanity without being entirely explicit. Dumbo is bullied and picked on for his physical differences, which is definitely a human problem indirectly represented by the behavior of the animal characters.
Another message of Dumbo I missed as a child is the prominent mistreatment of animals by their human superiors. Dumbo, along with practically all of the other animals in the film, is ruled by the authority of humans, who are not conscious of any of the animals’ well-being. They simply use the animals for entertainment purposes, abusing and mistreating them for the sake of pleasuring their human audiences. Re-watching this film opened my eyes to Disney’s clever representation of these real-world societal issues.