Disney Hero: Make Mine Music is a very strange film. As one of the 'package' features it is made up of numerous shorts which are loosely connected by the theme of music. Unlike with Saludos Amigos with had the theme of exploring South America and The Three Caballeros which had Donald as the main character, Make Mine Music has neither a storyline nor a main character. Subsequently there are number of possibilities for this film's Disney 'hero'.
The most obvious is Peter from the Peter and the Wolf segment. This is possibly the most well-known segment of this film and is certainly the only section I had seen prior to this marathon of films. Peter sets off to capture a wolf that is terrorising his local forest. Armed with pop-gun and a misguided sense of bravery, Peter hunts the beast down.
In a later segment with meet Johnny Fedora, a fedora hat in love with Alice Bluebonnet, a ladies' bonnet. The lovers are separated when bought by different customers and the segment follows Johnny's sad life until they are reunited.
The final segment of the film, The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met features Willie, a sperm whale who sings opera. Unfortunately, he would be considered a tragic hero because he dies at the end of the short film.
Disney Heroine: There are few women in main roles in this feature, the only prominent one being Alice Bluebonnet, the ladies' hat. There are girls in All the Cats Join In and Sonia the Duck in Peter and the Wolf but these are all relatively minor characters with little to say about them. Sonia does provide a twist ending to Peter and the Wolf as the audience are lead to believe she has been eaten by the wolf, when, in actual fact, she is alive and well.
Disney Villain: Alongside this choice of heroes, there are a choice of villains to antagonise them. Obviously, we have the wolf that Peter goes to hunt. He is actually quite a nightmarish creature and one of Disney's scarier depictions of an 'evil' animal.
In The Whale who Wanted to Sing at the Met, Willie is found and eventually harpooned by Tetti-Tatti, a showman and impresario. He mistakenly believes that Willie's singing voice is a result of Willie swallowing an opera singer and is eventually successful in killing Willie in an attempt to rescue the non-existent singer. Tetti-Tatti is a rare example of a Disney villain who actually succeeds in his mission, albeit for ostensibly well-meaning reasons.
Disney Sidekicks: Alongside the various heroes mentioned already are a number of sidekicks. Peter and the Wolf features three: Sasha the bird, Sonia the duck and Ivan the cat. All three join Peter on his hunt for the wolf and provide comic relief throughout the short.
Willie the Whale has Whitey, a seagull, as a friend in The Whale who Wanted to Sing at the Met. Whitey encourages Willie's singing and presents his amazing ability to the sailors aboard Tetti-Tatti's ship.
Disney Creatures: In the aforementioned sections, we have already mentioned wolves, ducks, cats, birds, whales and seagulls. Across the other segments we also find a pair of storks (in a segment, Blue Bayou, originally to have been included in Fantasia (and reviewed here). My children were thoroughly bored by this segment and I have to agree with them. Even with different music from the Fantasia version, it is deathly dull. Willie the Whale also has seals as an adoring audience.
Disney Magic: Magic is in short supply in Make Mine Music. The closest the film gets is in the more 'artistic' segments such as Two Silhouettes (which briefly features winged cherubs) and Without You, a love ballad. The anthropomorphic hats of Johnnie Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet also have a magical element to them.
Disney Land: The majority of the segments are set in the USA, most obviously The Martins and the Coys (a story of warring families), Casey at the Bat (a poem about an arrogant baseball player), All the Cats Join in (teenagers enjoying life) and Johnny Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet. The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met is partly set here as well (with the rest being in an unidentified ocean). Peter and the Wolf is set in Russia, in a cold, wintery forest.
Disney Songs: Make Mine Music is all about music and songs. In the way that Fantasia was based around classical music, Make Mine Music is based around what I would term 'easy listening' and jazz, alongside some narrative poems. The narrative poems are some of the more successful segments. The Martins and the Coys, Casey at the Bat and Johnny Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet are all fun stories with fun animations. The jazz-inspired numbers All the Cats Join In (which strongly reminded me of the Rhapsody in Blue segment of Fantasia 2000) and After You've Gone are good value to. Less appealing are the 'easy listening' numbers such as Blue Bayou, Without You and Two Silhouettes. The songs included really aren't very pleasant to listen to.
My favourite sequence, though, has to be the one which - ironically - would be better suited to Fantasia, bearing in mind it's classical roots: Peter and the Wolf. This, for me, is a perfect Disney short marrying fun animation and beautiful music into a lovely story. All the characters, even in the short screentime, have a character that is easily defined. It pleases me that Peter and the Wolf is, aside from Casey at the Bat, the only other segment to actually make it into the parks - albeit it only at Disneyland Paris.
Disney Finale: Make Mine Music is a very odd fish. Prior to this marathon I had never watched it and knew very little about the segments contained. As I say, I had seen Peter and the Wolf, but the rest was brand new. We watched this with my children and their interest was really only held by the more story-based segments. In fact, I think we skipped the ballet sequence, Two Silhouettes, altogether. I cannot see that this is a film we will return to nor that they will request to watch. We have returned to Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros and that seemed to be because the children wanted to watch Donald and Goofy. This film doesn't have those hooks so the draw is less. I'll be interested to compare their reaction to this with the other two package films, Fun and Fancy Free and Melody Time (particularly as they do feature Mickey and his friends). Certainly Make Mine Music isn't going to ever be a favourite of mine, even if I am fond of a couple of the sequences.