Thursday, December 29, 2011

That's All Folks? Ecocritical Readings of American Animated Features
Robin L. Murray and Joseph K. Heumann

2011. 296 pp.

Read an Excerpt (pdf)


Although some credit the environmental movement of the 1970s, with its profound impact on children’s television programs and movies, for paving the way for later eco-films, the history of environmental expression in animated film reaches much further back in American history, as That’s All Folks? makes clear.

Countering the view that the contemporary environmental movement—and the cartoons it influenced—came to life in the 1960s, Robin L. Murray and Joseph K. Heumann reveal how environmentalism was already a growing concern in animated films of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. From Felix the Cat cartoons to Disney’s beloved Bambi to Pixar’s Wall-E and James Cameron’s Avatar, this volume shows how animated features with environmental themes are moneymakers on multiple levels—particularly as broad-based family entertainment and conveyors of consumer products. Only Ralph Bakshi’s X-rated Fritz the Cat and R-rated Heavy Traffic and Coonskin, with their violent, dystopic representation of urban environments, avoid this total immersion in an anti-environmental consumer market.

Showing us enviro-toons in their cultural and historical contexts, this book offers fresh insights into the changing perceptions of the relationship between humans and the environment and a new understanding of environmental and animated cinema.


List of Illustrations vii
Acknowledgments ix
Introduction: A Foundation for
Contemporary Enviro-toons 1
1 Bambi and Mr. Bug Goes to Town: Nature with or without Us 29
2 Animal Liberation in the 1940s and 1950s: What Disney Does for the Animal Rights Movement 49
3 The upa and the Environment: A Modernist Look at Urban Nature 79
4 Animation and Live Action: A Demonstration of Interdependence? 91
5 Rankin/Bass Studios, Nature, and the Supernatural: Where Technology Serves and Destroys 115
6 Disney in the 1960s and 1970s: Blurring Boundaries between Human and Nonhuman Nature 135
7 Dinosaurs Return: Evolution Outplays Disney’s Binaries 161
8 DreamWorks and Human and Nonhuman Ecology: Escape or Interdependence in Over the Hedge and Bee Movie 183
9 Pixar and the Case of WALL-E: Moving between Environmental Adaptation and Sentimental Nostalgia 201
10 The Simpsons Movie, Happy Feet, and Avatar: The Continuing Influence of Human, Organismic, Economic, and Chaotic Approaches to Ecology 229
Conclusion: Animation’s Movement to Green? 241
Filmography 251
Works Cited 265
Index 277


Robin L. Murray is a professor of English at Eastern Illinois University. Joseph K. Heumann is a professor emeritus at Eastern Illinois University. They are the coauthors of Ecology and Popular Film: Cinema on the Edge.

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