In Dumbo, Colin Farrell stars as Holt Farrier, a former circus star, severely injured during The Great War. When he attempts to return to his former glory, he is instead relegated to tending for the circus elephants including a newborn elephant whose over-sized ears make him a laughingstock in an already struggling circus.
I caught up with the Golden Globe winning actor to chat about the live-action re-imagination of the 1941 classic Disney flick…
Along with Colin Farrell the film also stars Golden Globe winner Michael Keaton as opportunistic businessman V.A. Vandevere, Emmy and Golden Globe winner Danny DeVito as circus owner Max Medici, and BAFTA Award winner and Golden Globe nominee Eva Green as stunning aerialist Colette Marchant. Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins make their feature film debuts as Holt’s children, Milly and Joe and the cast also includes Alan Arkin as powerful banker J. Griffin Remington.
The original animated version of Dumbo flew into theaters on Oct. 23, 1941; it was one of the first films completed after Disney opened its new Burbank studio lot. The film was
revered by both audiences and critics, winning an Academy Award for best music,
scoring of a musical picture and the heartfelt and memorable song “Baby Mine” was also nominated for an Oscar.
Canadian rockers Arcade Fire have recorded a cover of “Baby Mine” for Dumbo which appear as the credits play out in the film.
Describing their take on the track, frontman Win Butler explained to nme.com how the film held personal significance for him.
“There is a scene with a locomotive in the original ‘Dumbo’ that uses an instrument called the Sonovox that my grandpa Alvino Rey made famous in the 1930s. Every time I saw the film I thought it was him. When we were asked to do the [end credit version of ‘Baby Mine’], I immediately got all of my grandfather’s old guitars and wanted to play them in the song,” explained Butler.
“My mom plays the harp on the track, my brother the theremin, my wife sings and plays drums, and our son even plays the triangle, as well as the rest of our ‘family’ in Arcade Fire. I will forever relate to the song thinking about the people I hold so dear that are so precious to me. Listen for the cameo of my grandpa Alvino’s famous Sonovox at the end.”
The story of “Dumbo” dates back to 1939 as a planned novelty item called a Roll-A-
Book—a box with little knobs that readers turned to read the story through a window.
Authors Helen Aberson and Harold Pearl wrote the story “Dumbo the Flying Elephant.”
Whether the Roll-A-Book was ever produced is a mystery—none have been located—but when Walt Disney purchased the rights to the story, he published about 1,430 copies of a book-version of the story.
Originally, the story was to be turned into a short film. But the filmmakers, headed by
Walt Disney himself, kept expanding the film till they ended up with a 64-minute feature
film starring a charming little elephant named Dumbo.