A Public Sphere for Poetry, Nature, and Politics
The Old Mill is a 1937 Silly Symphony cartoon produced by Walt Disney depicting the natural community of animals populating an old abandoned windmill in the country, and how they deal with a severe summer thunderstorm that nearly destroys their habitat. It incorporates the song “One Day When We Were Young” from Johann Strauss II’s operetta The Gypsy Baron.
Like many of the later Silly Symphonies, The Old Mill was a testing ground for advanced animation techniques. Marking the first use of Disney’s multiplane camera, the film also incorporates realistic depictions of animal behavior, complex lighting and color effects, images of rain, wind, lightning, ripples, splashes and reflections, three-dimensional rotation of detailed objects, and the use of timing to produce dramatic effects. All of the lessons learned from making The Old Mill would subsequently be incorporated into Disney’s feature-length animated films, such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), which was released a month later, as well as Fantasia (1940) and Bambi (1942).