Winter (1930) is the fourth and last episode in Silly Symphony’s “4 Seasons” theme. Since Ub Iwerks and Carl Stalling had left the Disney boat after doing “Autumn”, they couldn’t finish the series, which was directed by Bert Gillett with music by Bert Lewis.
This short transports us in a wintery setting, somewhere in North America where it’s cold, windy, snowy and populated by howling wolves, hibernating bears, skating deers, shouting squirrels, sneezing racoons…
What really caught my attention was the baby bear cub trying to wake up an older bear, dancing, yelping and poking at him. The bear cub actually resembled Mickey Mouse a lot with its big eyes and round ears. It’s very endearing, because of its innocence and playful behaviour. What seems to be the mama bear wakes up grumpy and menacing, but soon she is dancing with baby bear in a beautifully symbiotic mother-cub ritual.
After a whole season on winter dancing, all the animals gather around the groundhog’s residence. They anxiously wait to see if the cold will last any longer… and the groundhog comes out, doesn’t see its shadow… Festivities begin, but soon enough the sun comes out and a shadow appears. The groundhog rushes into it’s cave closing, leaving the beasts long-faced as a terrible wind rises. Basically, the ending scene is the same from the previous episode.
This cartoon left me smiling and feeling serene. The animals all had big round pretty eyes, and were yelping the whole time which I found really cute and heart-warming. The fact that a new team worked on this gave the animated short a wind of freshness that was much needed at this point.