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Western Animation / It's Tough to Be a Bird

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It's Tough to Be a Bird is a 1969 animated short film from Disney. It was directed by Ward Kimball, one of Disney's Nine Old Men.

It is a short film about birds. The entire film consists of a generic-looking red bird addressing the camera. The bird starts by tracing out the history of birds and how they evolved from other animals. It then talks about the bird's role in nature and its relationship with man, dwelling on how birds have both inspired humanity to discover its own way to fly, and driven humans to kill birds.

Won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. Disney had won this award quite often during The Golden Age of Animation, but wouldn't win again until Paperman in 2013.


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Tropes:

  • Alcohol Hic: When the bird talks about how Edgar Allan Poe had "problems" before writing "The Raven", Edgar hiccups.
  • Animated Credits Opening: Inverted! This animated short starts off with live-action footage of birds in flight, before the credits end and the main cartoon begins.
  • Clip-Art Animation: The finale is a montage of sight gags done as photographic cutouts, similar to Terry Gilliam's animations for Monty Python's Flying Circus.
  • Giant Foot of Stomping: One of the final vignettes is of a giant bird foot stomping on a city.
  • Green Aesop: Don't kill birds!
  • Have a Gay Old Time: "When the buzzards return to Hinckley Ridge/Everything is young and gay"
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: One of the running themes is how much humanity likes to eat birds, hunt birds, and otherwise exploit birds.
  • Medium Blending: Quite a bit of live-action footage in this animated short, including some stock footage, films of various birds, and a few minutes spent on the yearly Hinckley, Ohio "Buzzard Day" festival.
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  • Nice Hat: The bird describes "hairstyles for the queens" as the cartoon shows a queen wearing an elaborate hat with a whole bird on it.
  • No Fourth Wall: The bird addresses the viewer throughout.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Stock Footage: The section about human aviation shows several clips of early attempts at flight that ended in failure. Among these is the famous stock footage clip of the seven-winged Gerhardt Cycleplane.
  • Title Drop: The bird's first line of dialogue is "You know, it is not easy being a bird." He repeats the title line several times thereafter.
  • Tropaholics Anonymous: The bird starts a group called "Birds Anonymous" dedicated to stopping people from hunting birds. He answers the Birds Anonymous phone, only to receive a shotgun blast.
  • Visual Pun: The bird begins its educational lecture by saying "But just to set the record straight," then produces an actual record, which it starts playing and singing along with.
    • Among the animals in Noah's Ark are two cars - Mustangs.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: Discussed by the bird, who bemoans the habit of bird watchers to only care about beautiful birds like the heron, and ignore birds like, say, the buzzard.
  • White Void Room: Even Disney was caving in to the cheapness of The Dark Age of Animation, as seen in this short where much of the bird's antics are shown against a plain featureless background.
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