The Animated Film Musical

Susan Smith

in The Oxford Handbook of The American Musical

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780195385946
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 The Animated Film Musical

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The article presents several unique features that constitute an animated film musical and make it distinct from its live action counterpart. The frequency with which the animated films have animals or some other nonhuman character at their center indicates that the animated film employs a much broader notion of performance and a greater range of performer types, some of whom such as “Little April Shower” sequence, may not even have the kind of bodily presence that is for granted in the delivery of a live action musical number. The presence of the human voice on the soundtrack pulls against any more radical decentering of the human figure from the field of performance, although the pairing of this with the animated body engenders further complexities specific to the animated musical genre. The actions that constitute the performance are instead created through the manipulation of a set of drawings or other inanimate shapes and forms outside of the filming process, rather than from any physical action performed within the frame. Plasticity offers unique opportunities in performance terms, with the animated human body, being capable of stretching, compressing, and changing shape in response to the rhythms and patterns of music to a degree that is impossible in the live-action musical.

Keywords: animated musical genre; animated films; animated cartoons; plasticity; Disney animation

Article.  6482 words. 

Subjects: Music ; Musicology and Music History

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