Sunday, August 1, 2010

August 01: A Mythological Lumberjack

On this day in 1958, Disney released the animated short Paul Bunyan. Directed by Les Clark (one of Walt's "Nine Old Men") it retells the tall tale of Paul Bunyan - an enormous lumberjack and his equally huge blue ox.

As with many characters, Paul Bunyan's true origin is a bit of a mythological tale itself. The character had first been documented in 1910 in the work of a journalist named James MacGillivray. Some say he took the idea from an 1837 French Canadian tale. Either way, six year later in 1916 advertisement writer William Laughhead reworked the tale of the giant lumberjack (and added a giant ox) as part of an advertising campaign for a logging company. His version became the modern Paul Bunyan we all know of today.

Disney's version (featuring the voice of Thurl Ravenscroft as Paul) tells the tale of modern technology pushing aside old traditions ... Paul Bunyan must compete in a wood cutting contest with a new invention called the chainsaw. Running just under 17 minutes, it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Short Subject (Cartoon).

Today Paul Bunyan is part of a DVD collection titled "Disney's American Legends."

Click HERE for more August 01 Disney history.

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