In 1941, the Walt Disney Studios were not the juggernaut they are today. With a series of troubles hitting the studio – including the box office failure of Fantasia, an animator’s strike and the European box office drying up because of World War II – Walt and his crew needed to figure out a new way of making films. They had to make things cheaper and more profitable.
It was from those circumstances that Dumbo sprang to life. If Snow White and Pinocchio were high art films, with incredible realism and lifelike characters, then Dumbo was a cartoon in the best possible way. Using watercolor backgrounds, caricatured animals and a sweet, simple story, Dumbo managed to build an emotional roller coaster like no Disney film to that point had.