We recently attended the press conference for the highly-anticipated live-action reimagining of Disney‘s Dumbo and learned everything about why the film was being reimagined, the creative process of all involved, and what actually was representing the titular elephant while they were filming. The press conference was split into two parts. Attending the first part of the press conference was producer Derek Frey, producer Katterli Frauenfelde, production designer Rick Heinrichs, costume designer Colleen Atwood, composer Danny Elfman, screenwriter Ehren Kruger, and producer Justin Springer.
When asked why right now is the perfect time for a reimagining of Dumbo, producer Derek Frey stepped in to give his take on Tim Burton’s thought process in tackling this ambitious project now rather than later down the road:
“Well, from Tim Burton’s perspective when we were handed the screenplay from Ehren, it seemed like a story that could be expanded upon. The original is 63 minutes and Tim was aware that the technology had reached a point where you could successfully render an elephant into a live-action environment. It just seemed like, for Tim, he has obviously done some reimaginings in the past and every film that he takes on it’s not like a simple decision. And he knows that Disney has been going back into their catalog of films. But Dumbo is one of the original outsiders in a way and Tim’s films are populated with outsider characters. So, I think for Tim it was a combination of knowing that the technology was there to render this character and that pulled upon all of his strengths as an animator with his Disney background. It’s almost like Dumbo is a personification of himself in a way, which is interesting.”
Frey also explained that the universal themes held within Dumbo could be told at any time, especially for modern audiences now:
“In terms of the time, so much time has gone by since the original and it’s a simple story. It’s a beautiful story and I think that a lot of the themes in the story that Ehren created, they are universal things. It’s about family. It’s about believing in yourself. It’s about overcoming judgment, you know, people looking at you in a certain way. Dumbo is kind of a bullied character. I know that’s something that we’re dealing with socially right now. To place it back in a time period where we have this heightened reality, I think we could learn a lot now by looking back.”
I 100% agree with Frey, in that we have a lot we could learn by looking back at our history. In a socio-political time where all seems hopeless, where we are losing belief in ourselves and what we can accomplish when the world is set up against us, I think many will find Dumbo to be an inspirational and relevant movie for our time.
Directed by Tim Burton (Alice in Wonderland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) from a screenplay by Ehren Kruger (Ophelia, Dream House), and produced by Justin Springer (TRON: Legacy), Kruger, Katterli Frauenfelder (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Big Eyes) and Derek Frey (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Frankenweenie), Dumbo flies into theaters on March 29, 2019.