Psychedelic Disney Elephant


I am an admirer of all things psychedelic in art and music. My wife recently bought a second-hand copy of Disney’s animated feature film Dumbo — dubbed in Finnish of all languages. But we’re a multilingual family and the kids are used to someone always gabbling incomprehensibly, so they didn’t mind.

I just passed by the TV, hearing a men’s choir singing in Finnish — and then I caught a glimpse of the accompanying images. Bad trip man, baaad trip. Psychedelic multicolour elephants! Morphing in and out of shape, forming incandescent moiré patterns, sliding across the field of vision and into parallel dimensions of existence! Disney on drugs, oh mother gimme something to hold on to when the rush comesiughK ILHBhj ihygliuv 76fuyjkbkjjh

Turns out this is a scene where little Dumbo is delirious. “Surely it must be a late 60s production”, I thought to myself as I stared at the screen. No siree, Dumbo was released in 1941, two years before the hallucinogenic properties of LSD were discovered, and longer still before any Disney employee is likely to have partaken. Mescaline is the most likely explanation.

I wonder what the Finnish choir was on.

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  1. #1 Hans Persson
    January 21, 2007

    IIRC there is a similar scene in the Winnie the Pooh movie.

  2. #2 chezjake
    January 21, 2007

    Back at that time, Disney was into showing off all the “special effects” that could be done with animation. His “Fantasia” was even earlier (1940) and had a great deal of stuff that might now be regarded as psychedelic.

  3. #3 Martin Rundkvist
    January 22, 2007

    I’ve been meaning to watch Fantasia. So many books and discs, so little time…

  4. #4 martha
    January 23, 2007

    My kids loved Dumbo at a certain age. I think part of the draw is the absent but alive mother. My older son started watching it fervently during the time I was visiting my sister in England. All that psychedelic stuff was because Dumbo (presumably a preteen in elephant years) has gotten completely wasted drinking champagne left around by the carnival workers. Times and attitudes change! And notice the casual racism that runs through the whole thing? It might be a little less noticeable though if the carnies were singing in Finnish! But the movie does have its own strange and melancholy charm.

  5. #5 Martin R
    January 23, 2007

    What’s that saying again, “Champagne must be cold, dry and heavily mind-altering”?

  6. #6 Shelley Batts
    January 24, 2007

    I’m not sure how familiar you are with the concept of “pink elephants” if you haven’t spent a significant time in America (have you?). A pink elephant around that time period in America was like a stereotyped thing to see when you are an alcoholic, suffering from delerium tremens. There’s a beer called Delerium Tremens that has a pink elephant as its mascot, cause it has 12% alcohol or something ridiculous.

    Conversely, the Pink Elephants are also a gay republican group.

  7. #7 Shelley Batts
    January 24, 2007

    Here’s the movie, in English.

  8. #8 Martin R
    January 24, 2007

    Oh, right, I forgot: before the era of psychedelics, Western culture was mainly familiar with hallucinations as a symptom of advanced alcoholism. So Dumbo must actually be one long argument for prohibition, then. (-;

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