Released on May 23rd 1933, The Three Little Pigs exceeded all expectations. Based on the popular tale, this film enhances the story by personifying the three pigs, setting it to music, and improving on the general artistry of Disney animation.
With the growing societal and financial discord of the 1930s, The Three Little Pigs brought much relief and happiness to American citizens. For them however the film wasn’t so much a piece of escapist fiction, but also a cultural representation of the Great Depression and how they were struggling through the times – the Depression characterised by the Big Bad wolf.
Running in theatres for months after its initial debut, the film became a huge phenomenon – the mania matching that of Mickey Mouse. Part of that came down to the film’s song “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf” written and composed by Disney composer Frank Churchill. Similarly to the film, the song also has cultural implications, being used to represent the complacency of the Western world in allowing Hitler to make considerable acquisitions for Lebensraum. It was also used in other Disney animations for the Canadian war effort. Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf became an anthem for the American public and it still a popular song today on most general Disney compilation albums.
(Personally I think it matches It’s A Small World as being one of the catchiest and most irritating of all Disney’s songs)
In 1934, the short won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film and in 1994 it was voted in as the 11th Greatest Animated Cartoons (2nd out of 8 Disney animations considered for the accolade).
Due to its success, Disney produced three more animated shorts that would unfortunately not be met with the same reaction:
- The Big Bad Wolf (1934)
- The Three Little Wolves (1936)
- The Practical Pig.
As a result, Disney had a long running slogan “you can’t top pigs with pigs.”
Nonetheless The Three Little Pigs is still considered to be one of the most successful animated shorts ever made and it has had a lasting impression on Disney – the pigs themselves can be seen across the parks as characters, particularly in parades and shows.
Next to entertainment purposes, the film retains cultural and historical significance that we still look at today. In 2007, it was even selected for preservation in the US National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for its historical, cultural, and aesthetic significance.
No matter how much the song drives us crazy, we can’t deny that it is a hugely significant and important film for history as a whole.
Thanks for reading and have a brazzle dazzle day!