Disney’s latest live-action remake takes a freer approach to adapting the original plot but you’ll still see an elephant fly…
Spoilers to follow.
What’s it about?
Only very loosely adapted from Walt Disney’s 1941 original animation – itself a similarly loose take on the book by Helen Aberson and Harold Pearl – this Dumbo sees a young elephant with oversized ears help save a struggling circus when he learns to fly.
The story will be told as much through the eyes of the two children, Milly and Joe Farrier, who befriend Dumbo when their father is hired to care for him, as the elephant himself.
When Dumbo’s mother is taken from him, Milly and Joe pledge to reunite parent and child but soon find themselves up against much darker forces within the Dreamland circus than they could possibly have imagined.
Indeed, one such force arrives in the form of ruthless entrepreneur V. A. Vandermere who buys the circus for himself on realising the financial appeal of a flying elephant.
Who’s in it?
An all-star cast sees Colin Farrell play Milly and Joe’s war-veteran father Holt, with newcomers Nico Parker – daughter of Thandie Newton and Oliver Parker – and Finley Hobbins as the children.
Danny DeVito and Michael Keaton lend further gravitas to the film as small-time circus owner Max Medici and the enigmatic Vandermere respectively.
Former Bond and Golden Compass star Eva Green co-stars as a French trapeze artist, and watch out for a small turn by Scottish BAFTA winner Sharon Rooney.
There are roles here too for Alan Arkin, Joseph Gatt and DeObia Oparei, not to mention a cameo by Danny’s daughter Lucy DeVito.
Who’s made it?
Who better to direct a re-imagining of Disney’s darkest fairytale than gothic giant Tim Burton? This is, of course, not Burton’s first time re-spinning a Disney animation; it was the success of his Alice in Wonderland in 2010 that helped spark the studio’s remake trend.
Burton is working from a script by Transformers regular Ehren Kruger – give him a chance, he wrote The Ring too – and with producers Justin Springer, Nigel Gostelow, Katterli Frauenfelder and Derek Frey.
Is it a musical?
A handful of songs featured in Disney’s sixty-four minute original, including ‘Baby Mine’, ‘When I See an Elephant Fly’ and ‘Pink Elephants on the Parade’.
Though as yet unconfirmed, it seems that Burton’s Dumbo will follow the path of Maleficent and Cinderella, rather than Beauty and the Beast and The Jungle Book. What that means is you can probably expect covers of the original songs but they won’t actively feature.
‘Baby Mine’ can be heard over the teaser trailer, and shots of pink elephants have been teased, but the singer of ‘When I See an Elephant Fly’ – Jim Crow – is an exorcised character here.
No animals will talk in this Dumbo.
When’s it out?
Dumbo will fly into UK cinemas on 29 March.
Watch the trailer here: