In this episode of War Chronicles, ( our new series of articles regarding cinema of war, the movies made during the war and after the war based on World War and also other Major Wars) we are going to look at a cartoon that was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize in 1939 – Peace on Earth (For Source read below)
During the World War 1, the big names in Cinema and also the emerging ones realized the power of short films, they could be circulated world-wide easily, they were concise in a way that conveys a message across, they were the only way of entertainment for various individuals in the war stricken world.
Big Names like Disney started creating a stream of Propaganda animated cartoons, like Donald gets Drafted (1942)[Watch here] the small cartoon is about Donald Duck getting drafted to US Army. While the song in the background : “Army is not army anymore, it’s even better than before” explains the basic purpose of the cartoon, to sway the public into joining Army in large numbers during World War 2. The hidden purpose was being a pacifist cartoon and the satirical humor and ending of the cartoon send the point across. As what Donald Duck has to go through inside is opposite of what Army is offering.
“Donald gets drafted” was a part of four or five cartoon shorts regarding Donald in Army, while they might be funny and enjoyable yet capable of giving a message, we are here to talk about a different Cartoon Short. A Short Movie which was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize according to this New York Times Article.
The Film That was Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
Peace on Earth (1939) was an MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) Cartoon directed by Hugh Harman. Hugh Harman is the creator of Loony Toons, he worked with MGM to co-create characters like the beloved Cat and Moouse(Tom and Jerry), Sylvester and Tweety ,Daffy and countless others. But before working on loony toons in 1939 he made Peace On Earth.
Peace On Earth is a Christmas special , cartoon made at the time when World War 2 was starting. The world was deeply affected by World war one which had recently destroyed millions of lives. The Europe was struggling under the fascist leader of Nazis. The leaders never did learn the lessons after WW1 and soon after the end of first war, another one was brewing. Peace On Earth is taken from the Christmas song of the same name written during Civil War. (You can watch the cartoon embedded in the end)
The cartoon takes place on a world which is filed with Squirrels,(Zootopia -anyone) the Earth is inhabited by Squirrels and we watch the grandpa squirrel on his way to home as snow blows on Christmas eve. Outside his home are three squirrels singing the song : ‘Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men’. When he enters the house, his grandchildren soon ask him what are men?
So the Grandfather remarks and retell the tale of fall of Humans. How the vicious beings with metallic heads and long snouts destroyed each other. I will not tell you more. Witness the short movie for yourself below:
Transcript of the movie to churn up your head:
Grandpa : I never could figure ’em out. They was the orneriest, cussedest, dag-nab tribe of varmints I ever did see. Why, they was always a-fightin’ and a-feudin’ and a-shootin’ at one another. They’d no sooner get one argument settled, then they’d find something else to fuss about. If it wasn’t one durn thing, it was another. When they couldn’t think of nothin’ else to wrangle over, the flat-footed people started a-shooting at the buck-tooth people, and the vegetarians began to fight the meat-eating people, and you couldn’t make head nor tail of it.
Grandpa Squirrel: It was awful. It was terrible. Why, they fought and they fought and they fought, until… until there was only two of them left.
[each soldier shoots the other and goes down]
Grandpa Squirrel: And that was the end of the last man on Earth.
While the end turns just a little preachy to the Bible and Ten Commandments, the power of the short movie is phenomenal and unfortunately quite applicable in recent times. On the eve of World War II, the above must have seemed fairly profound. In the end the seemingly shallow cuteness of the opening is revealed to be the deepness of innocence, love, and peace. The end of the movie does not follow the line Goodwill to men after Peace on Earth. This is quite disturbing and Harrowing. Can there be any Peace on Earth if Humans stay? Have men lost their way so much that they will in the end destroy themselves.
The song’s lyrics should be changed from ‘goodwill to man’ to ‘goodwill to squirrels’ . Because why not squirrels. What have we done to get the blessings and prayer from anyone.
The movie was remade after 20 years after World War 2 by Hanna and Barbara- the duo that brought Tom and Jerry (Video Below). The squirrels were replaced by Mice and the movie was almost same, but the devastating thing was the realization that Another war had passed and Humans still not had learn anything from it.
The question that remains is : Would we remake it in coming Years? Have we learned anything? ANYTHING!
After silence for the past few weeks, we are back to our schedule and will be posting frequently. I apologize for that.