While this isn’t exactly a Christmas cartoon, it is one of the best winter-themed cartoons ever made — and perhaps more importantly, it’s my favourite cartoon from the Tweety and Sylvester series. (After this cartoon, made in 1951, the series got very repetitive and Tweety was drained of all personality, but here he’s a funny character and Sylvester’s fight with a lazy-eyed orange cat makes for an actual story, not a series of blackout gags.) Paul Julian’s backgrounds look so beautiful that, even after what we’ve been through in the past few days, they can almost remind us why we used to think snow was attractive.
I think there are many things in the world of entertainment that are better than they used to be. But when it comes to animation, I find that 3-D animation, even after it’s become so successful and has produced so many good animators, is still struggling to even come close to the best hand-drawn animation in creating personality through movement. It’s not just that the characters’ movements are more fluid and convincing than we usually get in 3-D animation; they just seem to move in a way makes them feel “real,” as opposed to realistic. And Friz Freleng’s direction depends on the kind of sudden, precise movements and split-second timing that make a lot of 3-D animated comedies seem a bit sluggish by comparison. Maybe it’s just that 3-D is still a relatively young technique, and the truly great animators of the format are still to come; Kung Fu Panda was, surprisingly, a step forward in terms of creating personality animation in the 3-D format. But I still think that there’s something about drawings that convey personality and heightened reality in a way that computers have trouble doing
Carl Stalling’s musical score for this cartoon is exceptional, one of his best; here, from a 1990 CD, is an excerpt from the recording session: