Table of contents

Madagascar 3

At the circus

This is perhaps the most interesting story of the three that bear the name Madagascar. By now, only the lascivious lemurs who take an amusing liking to pop music are left to remind us of the title. This time, the animals escape Africa, going through Monte Carlo, Rome, & London, on their way to NYC, & home. Apparently, the circus is the road to the zoo, which may be called a history lesson.

Now, let’s take stock of the animals: The penguins – flightless birds – are the only reasonable animals; they calculate, & therefore love money & contraptions. They may be said to be at home in the casinos: They play, but they do not play by the rules… In fact, there seems to be little that they love better than planning & executing deceptions.

Flight might be the most important thing about the story that does not attract attention. The lion takes to the trapeze & thus makes a cat he’d taken to fall in love with him; the zebra also takes to the cannonball shot. The hippo & the giraffe take to walking the tightrope, which they liken to dancing & practice together. Perhaps flying stands for aspiration; perhaps for excellence. & here is the proof that this story is a comedy: The animals fall in love, & regardless of species.

The lion says the circus without animals is still animal, because the spirited part of mankind is the animal part. He says this in a speech meant to arouse the spirit of his fellow animals. Even in America, the circus lives, but it is a circus fit for the new world. It seems like the difference is this: The old circus was attractive because it displayed the odd, not to say mutilated. The new circus is attractive because it makes the impossible seem possible, that is to say, it has the dream-like quality of flight or desire.

We note the great comedic touch of suggesting that the animals run the circus. The old circus is typified by the tiger Vitaly who used to jump through hoops & likes to play with knives. There is something to the danger of that kind of performance that must be tamed, because it is apt to arouse an anger & a fear that lead to destruction.

The new circus, unfortunately, is open to certain objections. First, the animals are unsure that they want to live as circus animals. What decides it for them is that together they gave excitement, i.e., romance & danger. A circus bear on a motorcycle is the paradigm of excitement. Secondly, desire makes promises that it cannot fulfill, & thus engenders mistrust, the road to pain & anger.

An animation to delight the kids.