Why Tim Burton's live-action 'Dumbo' is secretly an animal-rights movie

Kevin Polowy
Senior Correspondent, Yahoo Entertainment

In adapting Disney’s 1941 animated classic into a contemporary, CGI-heavy live-action family drama, the team behind Dumbo faced a distinct challenge: How to depict a story that romanticizes the circus at a time when audiences have much stronger feelings about animals held in captivity?

Without giving too much away, though, it’s very clear watching the Tim Burton-directed remake that the film is proud to wear its animal rights stance on its sleeve. (Just the image of the titular flying baby elephant’s face painted in makeup from the film’s trailer alone is enough to choke you up.)

Watch the trailer:


“It’s such a wonderful thing, and I’m very proud that Disney’s taking a stand,” Eva Green, who plays a star acrobat, told Yahoo Entertainment (watch above). “I just hope it will make people care for elephants and make them want to fight for them because elephants are facing extinctions and we want those majestic creatures to still be around.”

Green’s costars agreed that the film’s position on animals was a major draw for them.

“I look at it as a story that permitted itself to have an opinion on whether it’s right or wrong to have animals in captivity, and the opinion that it expresses I of course would fall on the side of,” said Colin Farrell, who plays a widowed father of two and ex-circus star who returns from war a changed man just as Baby Dumbo arrives.

“There’s a lot good themes in the movie, ones that were preserved from the Disney original and the ones that we’ve added,” added Danny DeVito, who plays the circus’s jovial yet still bottom line-minded ringleader. “And I think a lot of people are going to enjoy the fact that we’ve dealt with [animal rights] the way that we have.”

Dumbo opens Friday. 

Watch: Why Disney’s scariest movie moments might be good for you:


Read more on Yahoo Entertainment:

Want daily pop culture news delivered to your inbox? Sign up here for Yahoo Entertainment & Lifestyle’s newsletter.