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Western Animation / Rip Van Winkle

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Rip Van Winkle is a 1978 27-minute animated short film directed by Will Vinton.

It is of course an adaptation of the famous short story "Rip Van Winkle" by Washington Irving. Rip Van Winkle is an amiable bumbler living in the Catskill Mountains of New York in the 18th century. He is a delightful fellow given to singing and storytelling, beloved by the whole town, except his wife. She's sick and tired of the fact that Rip, although he's a super guy, is also very lazy and is way behind on the rent for their little farm.

Finally Rip goes out one day with his crop, intending to sell it and finally get his farm solvent. But through his own incompetence, almost all of his harvest falls out of the back of his wagon. With no food to sell and lacking a better idea, and dreading the thought of coming home, Rip goes off squirrel hunting in the forest. There he meets some strange men playing "nine pins" (a form of bowling). They offer Rip some of their moonshine, which he drinks. Rip passes out, and after a surreal dream, wakes up with a long grey beard and a musket ruined from rotting wood. He goes back into town and finds out everything has changed.


  • Adapted Out: This version doesn't include Rip's children—possibly to make him more sympathetic, as failing to take care of your children is bad no matter how fun you are.
  • Animated Adaptation: Of one of the most famous short stories of early American literature.
  • Cranky Landlord: Vanderdonk, the landlord, who pesters Rip about his rent, makes fun of him for not being a good farmer, and promises to evict Rip if he doesn't come up with the money.
  • Don't Go Into the Woods: You might find ghosts who will make you take a 20-year nap.
  • Dramatic Thunder: Multiple claps of thunder as Rip goes deeper into the woods. It turns out to be Henry Hudson's crew, playing nine pins.
  • The Future Is Shocking: Rip's house is a crumbling ruin, his wife has disappeared, and a picture of some guy named George Washington is hanging outside Rip's favorite tavern.
  • Idiot Ball: Rip, generous to a fault, gives two sacks of grain to a guy whose house just burned down. This causes almost all of the rest of Rip's produce to spill out of his wagon as he goes to market.
  • I Never Told You My Name: Rip gets more evidence that something weird is going on in the forest when the strange man that greets him calls him "Rip", when Rip never said his name.
  • Manchild: Rip's main problem, in that he would rather play games with the kids and fly kites than work on his farm.
  • The Man in the Mirror Talks Back: Rip looks into a pond, sees his own reflection, and says "What are you doing here?" The face in the pond then turns mean and growls "What are you doing here?", causing Rip to flee in terror.
  • Narrator: Will Geer, in one of his last roles, provides narration for the story.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Henry Hudson's crew, the ghosts of his infamous expedition to Hudson Bay, cast adrift when the rest of the men mutinied. They give Rip some weird moonshine that leads him to sleep for 20 years.
  • Pink Elephants: A long sequence has Rip having a bizarre hallucinatory dream after drinking the moonshine, complete with talking mountains and trees, rainbows that Rip can slide down on, and other bizarre shapes flitting in and out.
  • Rip Van Winkle: Yep! He wakes up with a long white beard after sleeping for 20 years.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: In the story Dame Van Winkle is said to have died of a stroke after screaming at a salesman. In this film she went off with a tailor at some point after her husband disappeared.
  • Stop Motion: An early claymation short by claymation pioneer Will Vinton.