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Western Animation / Reason and Emotion

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Reason and Emotion is a 1943 animated short film (8 minutes) directed by Bill Roberts.

The plot involves how humans are governed by reason and emotion, two emotions which are personified by two people living in the head of the unnamed male protagonist. As a baby, Emotion, personified as a caveman with a club, is the only person inside the man's head. This leads to the baby doing stuff like yanking the cat's tail and tumbling down a flight of stairs. Tumbling down the stairs and the pain that results leads to the birth of Reason, represented as a baby wearing glasses.

The short skips to the man's adulthood, with Emotion still in his caveman animal skins and Reason wearing a suit and tie along with his glasses. Reason is in the driver's seat (a literal driver's seat) most of the time, but occasionally Emotion takes over, like when the man propositions a hot woman and gets slapped for it (or a woman's emotion taking over and causing her to overeat at a diner). The negative effects of letting oneself be ruled by emotion are then demonstrated with a Real Life example— namely, Adolf Hitler, and how he led Germany into World War II.


Ollie Johnston of Disney's Nine Old Men animated the female Emotion, while another, Ward Kimball, did the male Emotion as a self caricature. Word Of God in the person of Pete Docter cited this short as inspiration for the Pixar feature Inside Out.


  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Hitler gabbles Teutonic gibberish.
  • Big Eater: The woman when Emotion rules her; she orders a huge meal at the diner and the charts on the screen show her gaining weight and ruining her figure.
  • Cast of Personifications: Reason and Emotion inside a man's head, with Reason and Emotion inside a woman's head playing supporting parts.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: The only time Emotion takes over in the man's head is when the man sees a hot lady on the sidewalk. Emotion clubs Reason on the head, makes a crude come-on, and gets slapped.
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  • Emotions vs. Stoicism: Reason and Emotion battle for control of the man's brain.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: The pivot to World War II and propaganda comes out of nowhere, given that the first half is a clever comedy about how reason and emotion interact inside the mind. It's not completely random, as the cartoon notes how Hitler appealed to emotions to sway the German people, and how Americans must be guided by Reason and not Emotion (namely fear or anger) to win the war, but it's still sudden.
  • Mars and Venus Gender Contrast: Suggested with the emotions inside the man and woman's head. Reason in each of their heads looks roughly similar, prim and proper and wearing glasses. But Emotion in the man's head is dressed as a caveman while Emotion in the woman's head is a slutty babe wearing a tight tube dress. (The female Emotion is not happy that Reason rejected the man's advance.)
  • Mental World: A simple one since this is a one-reel short, with a literal driver's seat that whoever is controlling the brain sits in, and eyes that look like windows for them to see outside. There's also a small window in the back of the skull that apparently represents memory.
  • The Noun and the Noun: Reason and Emotion
  • Off the Chart: As the woman overeats, charts inside her head gauge her figure as it gets fatter. In one chart, the figure gets so heavy the graph paper sags down.
  • Organ Autonomy: Reason and Emotion, anthropomorphized as people, taking control.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Reason and Emotion, the two beings coexisting inside everyone's head. They're even colored blue and red.
  • Scenery Gorn: A comment about how Hitler brought "nothing but ruin" to Europe is accompanied by a brief shot of a bombed-out cityscape.
  • Shameful Shrinking: Reason as it gets berated by Emotion under the influence of Hitler.
  • Smart People Wear Glasses: In both the man's and the woman's head, Reason wears glasses while Emotion doesn't.
  • Staircase Tumble: The baby, being led by Emotion, falls down the stairs. This is a Disney short so he isn't seriously injured, but he is hurt, which causes Reason to be born.
  • Wartime Cartoon: The short becomes this out of nowhere in the second half. An example of someone who let emotion take over? Hitler. How did Hitler lead Germany to war? By appealing to the emotions of the German people—pride in the form of Patriotic Fervor, fear, anger—which led Emotion in the German guy's head literally put Reason into a concentration camp. Also, Americans must not let emotions like fear distract them; their emotion should let them feel strength and love for their country, and must let reason be their guide as they conquer the Nazi menace.