Genre: Fairy Tale and Short Running Time: 26 min.
Release Date: March 19th, 1970 MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Chuck Jones, Ben Washam Actors: Hans Conried, June Foray, Chuck Jones
jungle elephant named Horton (voiced by Hans Conried) happens upon a floating dust speck, which emanates a tiny cry for help. He places it on a peculiarly pink clover for safekeeping, but a sour kangaroo (voiced by June Foray), with a devilishly obnoxious joey in her pouch, demands that action be taken against the seemingly senile elephant, who is the only one that can hear the wee voice. A microscopic town called Whoville, which does indeed thrive on the dust speck, must band together to make themselves heard, before they succumb to a horrible fate at the hands of the kangaroo and her band of monkey-like henchmen, known as the Wickersham brothers.
Obvious parallels can be drawn to government investigatory units, such as the House Un-American Activities Committee, as well as to red scare fearmongering in general, with Horton himself representing the nonconformist championer of equality, or a savior against social injustices. But from a child’s perspective, the film beautifully captures the simple theme that “a person’s a person, no matter how small.” It takes great disaster for the Whos to believe Dr. Who-Vee, the scientist who communicates with Horton, when he insists that their world sits on the end of an elephant’s nose – just as it almost takes the death of an innocent elephant to convince the Nurse Ratched-fashioned kangaroo that the tiny world exists on the speck. Banding together for an uncompromising friendship, Horton and Who-Vee shed light on comprehensible, short, and sweet morals that immortalize this award-winning cartoon. Though a short originally made for TV (with the help of Theodor Geisel himself, who aided in creating additional song lyrics and worked as a producer), “Horton Hears a Who!” is a phenomenal adaptation that vividly brings to life the look of the original drawings that adorned this beloved and universal children’s book.
– Mike Massie