HN movie critic Amanda Ronan finds a lot to love about The Small One, a short Walt Disney film originally shown in theaters as a prelude to Pinnocchio.
I have cried during three movies: Black Beauty (Ginger! Why?!?), Marley and Me (Marley! Why?!?), and Titanic (don’t judge me). But NEVER have I started crying eight minutes into a film… until now.
The Small One (1978) begins with an old donkey and his loyal boy during their morning farm chores. Small One is old and tired, though, and can’t keep up with the younger, bigger, stronger donkeys.
The boy’s father insists that Small One be sold. They simply cannot afford to feed a donkey that can’t work.
The boy says he will take Small One to town himself, so that he can find him a good home. He then sits brushing Small One as he sings about finding him the perfect new owner with a “friendly face.” Grab the tissue box, folks!
The next morning, Small One and the boy head in to town to meet prospective buyers. First up is this scary guy…. Uh, H – E – Double hockey sticks, no.
The potter, the baker, and the candlestick maker… no one is in need of a donkey. So, the boy heads to the auction block. The auctioneer looks a lot like Sallah from Indiana Jones fame, but the resemblance stops there. This guy is a real piece of work.
After being ridiculed and bullied, Small One and the boy are chased into a dark alley.
What Small One does next will break. your. freaking. heart. You’ll (sob) just (sob) have to wait and see!
This little flick has quickly become my favorite Christmas tale. Disney simply does not take one wrong step with The Small One. Plotwise– It’s a beautiful morality tale about being kind, gentle and loving, but its message is not overt like some annoying modern cartoons i.e. anthropomorphized vegetables. As equestrians we can all relate to the subject matter. We all hope to find that perfect “friendly face” when we decide to sell one of our beloved horses or donkeys. Technically– the animation is old-school Disney, complete with orchestra and choir musical numbers that will tug at your heart strings.
Watch Small One Here: