Peace on Earth (film)
|Peace on Earth|
|Directed by||Hugh Harman (1939 version)
William Hanna and Joseph Barbera (1955 version)
|Running time||9 min.|
Two young squirrels ask their grandfather (Voiced by Mel Blanc-uncredited) on Christmas Eve who the "men" are in the lyric "Peace on Earth, good will to men." The grandfather squirrel then tells them a history of the human race, focusing on the never-ending wars men waged. Ultimately the wars do end, with the deaths of the last men on Earth, two soldiers shooting each other. Afterwards, the surviving animals discover a copy of an implied Bible in the ruins of a church. Inspired by the book's teachings, they decide to rebuild a society dedicated to peace and nonviolence (using the helmets of soldiers to construct houses). The cartoon features an original song written to the tune of "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing."
According to Hugh Harman's obituary in the New York Times and Ben Mankiewicz, host of Cartoon Alley, the cartoon was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. However, it is not listed in the official Nobel Prize nomination database. Mankiewicz also claimed that the cartoon was the first about a serious subject by a major studio. In 1994, it was voted #40 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field. It was also nominated for the 1939 Academy Award for Short Subjects (Cartoons). It did not claim that honor (which instead went to Walt Disney's Silly Symphony The Ugly Duckling).
Fred Quimby, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera remade the cartoon in CinemaScope in 1955. This post-World War II version of the film, entitled Good Will to Men, featured updated and even more destructive forms of warfare technology such as flamethrowers, bazookas, and nuclear weapons. This version used a choir of mice as the main characters including a Deacon mouse who tell the story to his charges (voiced by Daws Butler-uncredited), and also had more direct religious references (though the Bible is simply referred to as the book of humans' rules in both, Good Will to Men includes a reference to the New Testament, while Peace on Earth only includes verses from the Old Testament). This new version was also nominated for the Best Animated Short Subject Oscar.
- "Hugh Harman, 79, Creator Of 'Looney Tunes' Cartoons". New York Times. November 30, 1982.
- Barbera, Joseph (1994). My Life in "Toons": From Flatbush to Bedrock in Under a Century. Atlanta, GA: Turner Publishing. pp. 72–73. ISBN 1-57036-042-1.
- "The Nomination Database for the Nobel Peace Prize, 1901-1955". nobelprize.org.