Dumbo: Why Tim Burton’s remake is one of the most emotional Disney film adaptations yet
We reveal the fascinating facts, big name stars and best bits in the remake.
Dumbo may be one of the many Disney movie remakes exciting fans young and old right now - but it’s certainly one of the most emotional.
Directed by visionary filmmaker Tim Burton, the live-action adaptation of the classic 1941 animated movie expands on the beloved story of a baby elephant whose oversized ears make him the laughing stock of a struggling circus.
But when it’s discovered that Dumbo can fly, the circus makes an incredible comeback, attracting a ruthless entrepreneur who recruits him for his newest, larger-than-life entertainment venture, Dreamland.
Starring Michael Keaton, Colin Farrell, Danny DeVito and Eva Green, Dumbo is a magical movie adventure in which differences are celebrated, family is cherished and dreams take flight.
Here, we reveal the best bits about the movie, fascinating facts you didn’t know and Easter eggs you didn’t spot, who plays the characters, and more, as Dumbo is available in the BT TV Film Store.
Who’s in the Dumbo cast?
Danny DeVito (Matilda, Batman Returns), above, plays Max Medici, a boisterous ringmaster and owner of the Medici Brothers' Circus, starring alongside Eva Green (Casino Royale, Penny Dreadful), who plays Colette Marchant, a trapeze artist at the circus.
Michael Keaton (Batman, Birdman) is V. A. Vandevere, a ruthless entrepreneur who buys Medici's circus to exploit Dumbo for his own bohemian amusement park, Dreamland, while Colin Farrell (The Lobster, In Bruges) plays Holt Farrier, a former circus equestrian performer and the elephant's caretaker.
3 reasons to watch Dumbo…
1. It expands on the beloved classic
The 1941 animated movie is just over an hour long, while the 2019 remake is just short of two, giving it plenty more time to expand on the original story.
As Hannah Wales from The World of Celebrity writes: “[The original film] ends where everyone learns about Dumbo’s ability, so I knew immediately that this remake would expand the story and explore what happens next, and I really liked what the team came up with.”
Where the 1941 version is focused entirely on Dumbo, the 2019 version adds a major storyline about a family who look after the elephant after discovering his magical ability.
Producer Derek Frey explains to RadioTimes.com: “We felt you couldn’t sustain an hour and 50 minute-long film solely on Dumbo’s perspective. That has already been done.
“Ehren Kruger, the screenwriter, it was his idea to tell a human story that parallels Dumbo’s trajectory as well.”
2. Visionary filmmaker Tim Burton is at the helm
While recent Disney remakes like Beauty and the Beast and The Jungle Book have remained fairly loyal to the animated originals, Dumbo isn’t strictly a remake.
Karen Han from Polygon writes: “Burton has more on his mind than just elephants, and it’s a welcome return to the cohesive colour of Batman and Big Fish (and the mania of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) when he finally takes his shot.”
She continues: “Burton is a visual filmmaker and Dumbo’s best sequences - the grandness of Dreamland, the colours the characters wear, the pure joy when Dumbo takes flight - don’t require words, which is, in the end, perhaps the film’s greatest tribute to the original.”
Go behind-the-scenes of Dumbo's Dreamland:
In fact, Burton’s turn as director was one of the reasons why many of the cast got involved in the project.
"I had wanted to work with Tim for a long time, I had been a fan of his for even longer than I've been an actor," Farrell told The Hollywood Reporter.
"To be in proximity to the power of his imagination and to see it physically manifest itself with grass and tents and horses and all of these circus performers was an extraordinary thing to be a part of, and of course with a story that has as much heart as this one has."
DeVito, who has already worked with Burton on several film projects, praised the director during a Dumbo press conference.
"I think he's brilliant. I think he's just a genius. His artistry is just astounding," he gushed.
"You give a talented person like Tim a subject like ‘Dumbo’ with all the great meaning and messages and metaphors - and what does he do, he sends it off into the stratosphere. He's one of a kind.”
3. It’s one of the most emotional Disney remakes
The story of Dumbo is tear-jerking in itself - a ‘misfit’ elephant mocked for having big, floppy ears, thus making him ‘different’.
Even the release of the trailer got fans emotional, with Nerdist headlining an article: ‘Yes, Yes, This New DUMBO Trailer Will Make You Cry, Too’.
And the movie didn’t disappoint on the tear-jerker scale, with Ariana Brockington from Refinery29 writing: “Dumbo will make you want to scream at the ridiculous humans who fail to respect him and then make you want to cry seeing poor baby Dumbo suffer.”
Hannah Wales from The World of Celebrity agrees: “It hits the emotional beats of the original - I got tears in the same places as before!”
But if you’re after something similarly emotional, save your tissues - The Lion King re-make is also …
Dumbo trivia and Easter eggs: Did you know...
1. In the original film, the storks deliver babies to the animals in the circus, with one eventually dropping off baby Dumbo. In the 2019 film, storks can be seen right before Mrs Jumbo gives birth to Dumbo.
2. One of the pet mice kept by Milly (Nico Parker) is a nod to Timothy Q. Mouse, Dumbo's friend who defends him from bullies in the original film.
3. According to IMDB, there was a swear jar on set. Whenever an actor swore, they needed to put money in the jar. At the end of shooting, the total was given to charity. Allegedly, Colin Farrell was the worst offender and was responsible for most of the takings.
4. Blink and you’ll miss it: Danny DeVito's daughter Lucy DeVito appears in the film as a coat-check girl.
5. One of the most renowned sequences in the original film is when a drunk Dumbo blows a large bubble out his nose, only for it to turn into a herd of pink elephants, writes CBR.com. Burton adds his own spin on this pink elephant scene, with the elephants created from bubbles coming from special wands waved by circus performers.
What the fans are saying about Dumbo
It’s safe to say viewers of the movie shed a little tear at the floppy-eared elephant…