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Western Animation: What's Opera, Doc?
He's STILL going to Kill Da Wabbit, Kill Da Wabbit, Kill Da Wabbit...!note 

"Well, you either hate opera, or you love it. I love it."
Bugs Bunny, speaking of What's Opera, Doc?, in The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie.

What's Opera, Doc? — yes, with a question mark — is a 1957 Looney Tunes short famously described by director Chuck Jones as "our attempt to squish the entire Ring Cycle down to six minutes." The incredible part is that they succeeded.

Specifically, the short is an ambitious parody of the operas of Richard Wagner, particularly Der Ring des Nibelungen (especially Die Walküre), and (musically) Der fliegende Holländer and Tannhäuser. It was written by Michael Maltese, who twelve years earlier had warmed up for the task with Friz Freleng's similar Herr Meets Hare, with Hermann Göring (!) in the Elmer Fudd part.

The plot follows Siegfried Fudd as he attempts to (what else?) kill innocent little forest critter Bugs Bunny with his "speaw and magic hewlmet." Along the way Fudd manages to fall in love with what he does not realize is Bugs in drag as Brünnhilde; when he discovers he's been tricked, his tewwib — er, terrible wrath unleashes the full force of the helmet's awesome might: "Nowth winds bwow! South winds bwow! Typhoons! Huwwicanes! Eawthquakes! SMOOOOOOGGGGG!!"

As the tempest dies down, it reveals the broken form of the "poor wittle wabbit", which he has to all appearances finally killed. Overcome by remorse, Fudd tenderly scoops up the body and marches sniffling into the sunset... at which point Bugs, very much alive, raises his head and inquires briskly of the audience: "Well what did ya expect in an opera — a happy ending?"

Naturally, as this is an opera, almost all of the dialogue is sung ("O mighty warrior of great fighting stock, / Might I inquire to ask, 'Ehh, what's up Doc?'" to the tune of Siegfried's Horn Call). Most famous is Elmer's continual refrain of "Kill da wabbit!" to the tune of the "Ride of the Valkyries". The brief ballet sequence between Siegfried and "Brünnhilde" was painstakingly choreographed by animators who studied film of actual dancers. There's even a duet, "Return, My Love", with original words by Maltese, to the tune of the "Pilgrims' Chorus" from Tannhäuser.

Having taken roughly six times as much time and money to produce as most contemporary Looney Tunes shortsnote , this is possibly the most beloved and critically acclaimed animated short of all time, topping numerous lists compiled by film critics and professional animators. In 1992, it became the first cartoon short to be deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress, and thus was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

What's Opera, Doc? provides examples of the following tropes:


"Well what did you expect in an opera? A happy ending?"
    The 50 Greatest CartoonsDuck Amuck
Elmers Candid CameraAnimated FilmsA Wild Hare
The Three Little BopsThe FiftiesTom and Jerry
Tree for TwoLiterature/The 100 Greatest Looney TunesA Wild Hare
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?Roger Ebert Great Movies ListThe Wild Bunch
Tree for TwoFilms of the 1950sHarold and the Purple Crayon
Paths of GloryNational Film RegistryPsycho

alternative title(s): Whats Opera Doc; Whats Opera Doc
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