Peace on earth – a warning from 1939

Posted: February 1, 2012 in Uncategorized, war
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Peace on Earth is a one-reel 1939 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer cartoon short directed by Hugh Harman, about a post-apocalyptic world populated only by animals.

Two young squirrels ask their grandfather on Christmas Eve who the “men” are in the lyric “Peace on Earth, good will to men.” The grandfather squirrel then tells them a rotoscoped history of the human race, focusing on the never-ending wars men waged. Ultimately the wars do end, with the deaths of the last men on Earth, two soldiers shooting each other. Afterwards, the surviving animals discover a copy of the Bible in the ruins of a church. Inspired by the book’s teachings, they decide to rebuild a society dedicated to peace and nonviolence (using the helmets of soldiers to construct houses). The cartoon features an original song written to the tune of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”. According to Hugh Harman’s obituary in the New York Times and Ben Mankiewicz, host of Cartoon Alley, the cartoon was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. However, it is not listed in the official Nobel Prize nomination database. Mankiewicz also claimed that the cartoon was the first about a serious subject by a major studio. In 1994, it was voted #40 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field. It was also nominated for the 1939 Academy Award for Short Subjects (Cartoons).

 

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