I remember watching the classic Disney cartoon Dumbo from 1941, both as a kid myself and with my own kids. I'll be honest with you; it was hard to watch. The story of the baby elephant who could fly was sad, really genuinely deep down sad, too sad for me as a child. When Dumbo was separated from his mom I cried like I was never going to stop. Now I'm a grown up, and I get it. I get how great the story is, how sweet and lovely. And when I saw the new Dumbo trailer from Disney, I felt that nostalgic pull of a story I maybe loved a whole lot despite how much it made me cry. Maybe because it made me cry.
Disney's live-action version of Dumbo is being directed by none other than Tim Burton, the dark genius behind Edward Scissorhands and The Nightmare Before Christmas. Except this time around, it looks like Tim Burton went for something of a different feel for the re-imagined tale. In fact, judging from the new trailer that Disney just released this week, it seems as though Burton took the original story of a young circus elephant who doesn't fit in and made it into something extra special.
The original Dumbo was based on a story written by Helen Aberson and Harold Pearl. The main character is Jumbo Jr., a baby elephant born with huge ears who gets ridiculed by everyone who sees him other than his mom, circus elephant Mrs. Jumbo, and his mouse friend Timothy. In the first film, the entire plot is focused on Dumbo; losing his mom and eventually learning to fly and becoming a big circus star.
Burton's version is somewhat different while sticking to the same principles of the first film. First of all, Dumbo gets a few more friends this time around in the Farrier family. Holt Farrier (played by Colin Farrell) is a former circus star, according to E! News, who gets hired by circus owner Max Medici (played by Danny DeVito) to take care of the unusual newborn elephant. It seems Dumbo's enormous floppy ears are causing some embarrassment for Medici, whose traveling circus is already having a tough time staying afloat.
Also different in this version, Holt's two kids discover that Dumbo can fly early on. The elephant becomes a circus star and he is eventually brought to Dreamland, a theme park owned by shifty entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere (played by Michael Keaton) that might not be as dreamy as it first seems.
Oh and if you're wondering if Burton will include that gut-wrenching scene where Dumbo visits his mother in her cage as the song "Baby Mine" plays in the background, rest assured. It's in there, and just the few seconds of that song was enough to make me cry all over again.
Dumbo is set to be released in March 2019. The look will be different, the story a little changed... but if this trailer is anything to go by, the spirit of Dumbo will be the same. Sad and sweet and well-meaning. And I'm willing to shed a few tears over it, because it's worth it.