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Western Animation / Tulips Shall Grow

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"Tulips Shall Grow" is a 1942 animated short film (7 minutes) written and directed by George Pal, using Pal's "Puppetoons" style of stop-motion animation that involved intricate carved wooden puppets.

The film is set in the Netherlands. A Dutch boy named Jan falls in love with a girl named Janette, who lives in a windmill. He plays his accordion for her, and she bakes him a cake. Their idyllic romance is shattered when the "Screwballs", an aggressive military force consisting of literal metal balls with screws in them, come barreling into Holland. (The Nazis had conquered the Netherlands in 1940.) The Screwballs turn the land into a blasted waste. Luckily, the Screwballs are defeated when it rains and they rust through. Jan finds Janette in the shattered ruin of her windmill, and they are reunited as the tulips grow back.


  • Always Chaotic Evil: The Screwballs, who blast hell out of everything.
  • Deus ex Machina: Just when Jan is praying in the depths of despair, the rain comes and rusts all the Screwballs.
  • Down on the Farm: A boy and a girl in the rural flatlands of Holland.
  • Clockwork Creature: The Screwballs, their Leitmotif even has a clock's ticking integrated.
  • Happy Ending: The Screwballs are defeated by rust, the windmill is repaired (it actually reassembles itself), and the fields bloom with tulips again.
  • It's Raining Men: Hell, it rains tanks.
  • Killer Robot: The Screwballs, scary robots that blast the hell out of Holland.
  • Karmic Death: The Screwballs suffer this fate, when the subsequent rainstorm literally rusts them all to death before they can escape.
  • Kill It with Water: The Screwballs are defeated when they rust in the rain.
  • Land of Tulips and Windmills: The short is an allegory of the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands, with the two main characters a boy and girl depicted in traditional Dutch clothes cavorting through tulip fields.
  • Mood Whiplash: A charming, gentle love story is turned on its head when the Screwball army comes barreling in.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: The Screwballs, who roll in and blast everything.
  • Silence Is Golden: It's not quite a Mime and Music-Only Cartoon, but the only dialogue comes from the boy calling "Janette", later when he says "Rust!" as the rain defeats the Screwballs and finally when Janette reveals to be still alive calling him "Jaaan..." to which he happily responds with a final "Janette".
  • Stop Motion Animation: Pal's "Puppetoons" style, which demanded new puppets/models for every shot rather than using articulated limbs. It was labor-intensive but produced some incredibly impressive animation.
  • Empathic Environment: After the Screwballs perform a disturbing Sugar Apocalypse, we're left with a desaturated, burnt Scenery Gorn, but as soon as Jan reunites with Janette, everything becomes radiant and lively as they happily walk together, and the tulips regrow.
  • Empathy Doll Shot: Done with the "I Love Jan/Janette" cake that she lovingly baked, which gets squashed by a Screwball tank that actually seems to notice it and destroy it on purpose.
  • Take That!: Not surprisingly, the whole short is a reflection of George Pal's personal feelings about the Nazis. Only a few years prior, he and his wife had fled Berlin just as Hitler was coming to power, forcing them to abandon their barely-new studio there and start over in Paris and later again in Holland, only for the Nazis to catch up with them. Two years before short came out, Pal, his family and 25 members of his staff had uprooted to California, where they remained until the studio closed in 1947.
  • Red Sky, Take Warning: The sky becomes menacingly reddish with black clouds when the Screwballs attack.
  • Thunder = Downpour: Hear thunder, cue rain.
  • Title Drop: The film ends with the message "TULIPS SHALL ALWAYS GROW" on the screen.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: The Screwballs try to hightail it once the rainstorm comes, but they barely get anywhere before they rust and crumble to pieces.
  • Wartime Cartoon: When this cartoon played in American theaters the Nazis had been occupying Holland for two years.