Seventy-eight years ago, Walt Disney Pictures released its fourth full-length animated movie, a story about a baby circus elephant who discovers in incredible ability. Disney’s original Dumbo was, by today’s standards, only barely a movie. 64 minutes! Including a nightmare-inducing psychedelic sequence! And a whole lot of racism! But it turned out to be a hugely important movie for the company, one that helped make up for the costly flop that was 1940’s Fantasia. And at the core of it, it’s a movie about a little kid finding his place in the world. Stories like that tend to resonate for a while.
Later this month, Disney will release the new Tim Burton-directed live-action version of Dumbo, which looks fancy and expensive. Burton has blown out all the circus elements of that original movie in the grandest possible fashion. And that includes what might be the quietest moment in the original movie. In the 1941 Dumbo, “Baby Mine,” a song written by Frank Churchill and Ned Washington, Dumbo’s mother sings Dumbo the song as a lullaby. In the Tim Burton remake, “Baby Mine” becomes an Arcade Fire song.
Arcade Fire, old gods of internet-beloved indie rock, have already teased their version of “Baby Mine,” which they recorded as a family affair. In a press release, bandleader Win Butler writes, “My mom plays the harp on the track, my brother the theremin, my wife [Régine Chassagne] sings and plays drums, and our son even plays the triangle, as well as the rest of our ‘family’ in Arcade Fire. I will forever relate to the song thinking about the people I hold so dear that are so precious to me.” On the outro, you can hear Butler’s father’s Sonovox.
So, for the purposes of a big Disney movie, Arcade Fire have attempted something that is both sweeping and intimate, which is basically the line that they’ve attempted to walk for their entire career. See if they pulled it off. Below, Listen to Arcade Fire’s “Baby Mine” and watch the “Baby Mine” sequence from the original Dumbo.
Dumbo is in theaters 3/29. Arcade Fire’s version of “Baby Mine” is out on the streaming services now.