The beloved big-eared baby elephant takes center stage in a film for a new generation

By Piya Sinha-Roy
June 13, 2018 at 03:03 AM EDT

Dumbo (2019 Movie)

Dumbo is back and flying high in the first trailer for Tim Burton’s live-action re-imagining of Disney’s 1941 animated movie, in a tale of family, loss, a struggling circus, and an oddly unique baby elephant that brings hope and inspiration to those he meets.

The film stars Colin Farrell as Holt Farrier, a former horse showman who returns from the war a widower to his two children and a circus struggling to survive. The circus’ owner, Max Medici (Danny DeVito), buys a pregnant elephant, and thus Dumbo enters their lives and “awakens everybody to their better selves,” Farrell told EW.

The first look at the film shows Holt and his two children Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins) meet Dumbo, Colette swinging across the circus arena, a glimpse of a pink elephant bubble (taken from the animated film’s famous pink elephant dream sequence) and finally, Dumbo soaring through the circus crowd. The trailer is accompanied by a new rendition of the classic film’s Oscar-nominated song Baby Mine, sung by Norwegian singer-songwriter Aurora.

From Edward Scissorhands to Alice in Wonderland, Burton is known for constructing lavish, whimsical worlds, and with Dumbo he delivered some vast, intricately designed, meticulous sets that Michael Keaton — who reunites with his Batman Returns (1992) collaborators Burton and DeVito on Dumbo — said left him almost speechless.

“The physical space was so enormous, it’s the largest set I’ve ever been on in my life,” he said. “Literally, a chill went up the back of my neck.”

Keaton, who plays V.A. Vandevere, the owner of a successful attraction called Dreamland whose attention is piqued by the news of a flying elephant, said he enjoyed playing the antagonist in a story that’s ultimately about love and acceptance. Dumbo’s story has transcended generations because, Keaton said, “there’s a real elemental thing about family and what it means, and what it means to be a part of something.”

“My sense is we’re on the cusp… of a re-emergence of consideration,” Keaton said. “People are worn out, not just by cruelty, but judgment and discrimination and inequality.”

Dumbo will fly into theaters in March 2019. See the first trailer above.

Dumbo (2019 Movie)

Burton’s Dumbo is hardly a bad film, but his fans will be disappointed by how little of the director’s dark DNA made it into the finished product.
  • Movie
  • Tim Burton