One Step Ahead of My Shadow is a 1933 animated short film from the Merry Melodies series. It is a very disturbing movie.
It follows several Chinese men who dance around until a dragon attacks them. Now this is a typically musically oriented Merry Melody that is lacking in characterization and plot. But it does feature an interesting Chinese setting which was very refreshing to witness. And it isn’t as racist as I thought it would be. I loved the animation and this is probably the best animated Merry Melody so far! The imagery is beautiful and they perfectly recreated their customs, clothing and architecture.
But there is one thing here that almost traumatized me. In one final scene, a dynamite goes into a fish bowl and after it explodes, we see two fish still swimming around, but now as skeletons. Yes, that actually happened here! Wow, I was left speechless. I know that Merry Melodies and Looney Tunes certainly did have a strong edge during the thirties and afterwards as well, but this was just too much. And it was presented as a gag? To me it wasn’t funny at all, but just unnecessarily brutal.
One Step Ahead of My Shadow is beautifully animated and featuring an excellent Chinese setting, but it also has a “gag” that was unnecessarily brutal and just too much.