Despite it dating all the way back to 1928 and being produced in black and white, Steamboat Willie remains a landmark in Disney animation history. It marked the debut of both Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse. It was also the first Disney cartoon to utilize synchronized sound with character noises and a musical score. Even today it is still used as an opening logo for Disney’s movies.
Despite its little use of sound, there wasn’t any dialogue. Walt Disney himself did all the voice work for the film. Mickey’s expressions and movements, as well as the music, defined the plot: Mickey is oppressed by Captain Pete and delights his passenger Minnie by creating musical instruments from the animals on the deck. As a result, Mickey turns geese into bagpipes, a cow’s mouth into a xylophone, and piglet tails into a piano.
The animation was largely done with one of the first animation styles called rubber hose animation where everything was largely animated as if it were rubber. Such examples of its use here include when Pete kicks himself due to the force of his kick and when he grabs Mickey. It’s a rather silly animation style but one that contributes well towards the comical and whimsical style of the cartoon. For the time period, the animation was well done. There were no real animation errors throughout the majority of the thing.
The cartoon largely embodied cultural ideas of the 1920s such as chewing tobacco, jazz music, and challenging authority.
The cartoon led to multiple projects regarding Mickey’s character down the road. also led animator Fred Moore into giving more freedom to Mickey’s movement and color seven years later. By 1937 Disney wound up producing several various Mickey Mouse shorts. By the 1950s Mickey had his own comic strip and the Mickey Mouse Club.
Steamboat Willie established Disney as an animation icon and made Disney what it is today. Its success helped pave the way for Disney’s first feature-length film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves almost ten years later and subsequently its other films thus making it the titan in animation it is today.