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Western Animation / The Goddess Of Spring

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A proto Disney Princess, in more ways than one.
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The Goddess of Spring is a 1934 Silly Symphony directed by Wilfred Jackson. While it is ostensibly an adaptation of the Greek myth of Hades and Persephone, it was actually created in order to give the Disney animators practice on drawing realistic humans, in preparation for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Unfortunately, the animators weren’t quite there yet, and the short initially flopped. Today however, it’s one of the more famous Silly Symphonies.

The short opens with the Goddess of Eternal Spring frolicking through the woods, surrounded by her animal and plant subjects. As the narrator says, the whole world loves her because she keeps the Earth in eternal springtime. However, she is soon kidnapped by the god Pluto (who in this case looks a lot more like the Christian devil) so that they can be married. He takes her to his underground layer, full of jewels, fire, and dancing minions. Meanwhile, winter sets in and everyone on Earth is miserable. The Goddess is miserable too, so much so that Pluto allows her to stay above ground for 6 months out of the year, and that's why we have winter.

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The Goddess of Spring contains the following tropes:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: The Goddess is kidnapped by Pluto because he wants to marry her, but she's absolutely distraught when with him.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The basic plot comes from the story of Hades and Persephone, but Demeter, Zeus, and the part about the pomegranate seeds are cut out.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: Because there’s no pomegranate seeds in this version of the myth, there doesn’t seem to be a reason why the Goddess should keep her promise of returning every six months (unless she’s worried that Pluto might do something bad if she doesn’t).
  • All There in the Manual: The god is never referred to as “Pluto” in the short, only in the script.
  • The Almighty Dollar: The one thing Disney did get right about Pluto was that he was the god of wealth (because jewels are found underground). He showers the Goddess with all manner of shiny things, but it doesn't make her any happier.
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  • Art Shift: The whole short was an exercise in realistic human movement, completely different than the previous shorts. Furthermore, the Goddess' face looks a less cartoony than previous animated heroines.
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: Most people probably know this short as “The Goddess of Eternal Spring”, even though the word “eternal” is only in the song.
  • Composite Character: Demeter and Persephone are combined to form The Goddess of Spring.
  • Everybody Hates Hades: This version of Hades (called by his Roman name, Pluto) is basically just the Christian devil, complete with fire and pitchforks all over his lair.
  • I Gave My Word: The Goddess promises Pluto to return every six months, and she keeps it.
  • Incest Is Relative: Averted. Among the many changed made to the Greek myth is that the Goddess and Pluto are not related.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: There’s absolutely nothing Pluto can give to the Goddess to make her stay with him longer than 6 months.
  • Melodrama: The whole thing plays out like an opera, complete with everyone singing their lines!
  • Princess Classic: The Goddess is kind, beautiful, and literally causes spring on Earth. She is constantly surrounded by animals and flowers who adore her.
  • Rubber Man: The Goddess and Pluto, but not intentionally. The animators were trying to make realistic human movements, they just weren't very good at it yet.
  • Vindicated by History: Reportedly this short was a flop when it first came out, but nowadays it's definitely one of the more famous Silly Symphonies (perhaps because it was a precursor to a very famous Disney movie...).
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