Tag: classic Disney

Epic Disney Tag

epic disney tag2

I just thought I would share this video I made.  It took a lot of work so please check it out and share it if you enjoy it.  I started with this thing called the ‘Disney TAG’ which has been going around youtube.

Then I figured if I was going there I would add more questions, make it a full look at Disney and what I like and don’t enjoy as much.  I would love to hear your thoughts and what you would pick for the questions.

Here are the questions:

1. A scene in any Disney movie you wish you could experience
2. An unforgettable experience you’ve had at the parks
3. What non-Disney song reminds you or brings back memories of Disney and or the parks?
4. When was the first time you went to a Disney park?
5. If you could choose any of the characters to be your best friend who would you choose?
6. Who is your favorite Disney princess?
7. Name a scene/moment in any Disney movie that never fails to make you cry?
8. What is your favorite Disney movie?
9. Overrated Disney?
10. Underrated Disney?
11. Favorite Disney song?
12.   Least Favorite Disney?
13. Most Memorable Disney villain?
14. Favorite classic Disney/ favorite modern Disney?
15. Favorite Disney score?
16. Favorite live action
17.   Didn’t like as kid, like now
18. Favorite Studio Ghibli

epic disney tag

Because of the rules of youtube I couldn’t put in my favorite songs but here they are:

If you haven’t seen it in a while listen to Hans Zimmer’s amazing score for the Lion King

Feminism and Fairy Tales

Disney Female Villains
Disney Female Villains

 

This morning I slept in until about 11:30 and feel greatly improved.  Enough so that I found myself looking over old blog entries and making them better.  I often am amazed at the mistakes I make after having reviewed my writing several times before posting.  Sigh…

Anyway, I found myself reading an old post I had done on the children’s author Roald Dahl.  In the post I wrote about rereading Roald Dahl books and how the depiction of women was kind of disturbing.  Whether it be the aunts in James and the Giant Peach or the Trunchbill in Matilda most of his books have a beastly villainous women at the center.

As I was thinking about the post I started to ponder about other stories.  Snow White? Evil Queen.  Cinderella?  Wicked Stepmother. Sleeping Beauty? Maleficent.  Little Mermaid?  Ursula.  Wizard of Oz? Wicked Witch.  Rapunzel? Gothel.  I could go on…

Isn’t that strange?  Why do you think that is?  It’s especially weird when you think that men have been the more dominating force over the years.  The devil is almost always thought of as a man and yet his minions are sultry temptresses or women.   A man would seem the more natural choice for a villain in previous eras because they had all the power and control.  Strange?

I was talking about this with my sister and she suggested that these characters are almost always middle aged childless women. “Supposedly it is because childress women past their child rearing age were considered a societal threat”.   Lonely figures have always been viewed as isolated by choice, scary, and backward especially by children.   When I first lived alone you wouldn’t believe the number of people who were horrified by the idea, even today.  They expressed concern and amazement that I could do such a thing and be happy.

You look at the idea of the old maid or the crazy lady with all the cats that still persist today.  I’ve known girls who have refused to get a cat because they don’t want to be that kind of single woman.  One dating advice column I read recently said to girls “Owning More Than One Cat Does Not Mean You Will Die An Old Maid”  .  Perhaps the refusal (or bad luck) of these middle-aged childless women to conform to social norms made them scary and ripe for fairy tale lore?  What do you think?

My other theory is since we all start life in a female, and hopefully being loved by a mother, there is nothing scarier than a woman gone wrong.   Its like it takes the maternal instinct and twists it to its evil side.  Almost all of the fairy tales with female villains have a female heroine as well.  These innocents are young, hopeful and beautiful (fairest in the land…).   Ever since I took feminist classes in college I’ve struggled with the whole princess ideology because I loved it so much growing up but I see how it can be harmful to young girls.

I don’t know what I would do if I had a daughter.  I certainly didn’t see something like the Little Mermaid as anything but empowering as a girl.  I wanted to get out and try my own ways just like Ariel.  I wanted to read and be bold like Belle.  It never occurred to me that there was these more negative subtle social influences.  If they didn’t occur to me until I was in my 20s do they matter?

You look at something like Dorothy who fights evil and saves Oz from the wicked witch and it seems super empowering.  Never did I think that all of the people surrounding Dorothy are men except for the wicked witch. What do you guys think?  Do these negative female characters affect the way girls grow up (or boys for that matter)?  Are they harmful?  Are they harmful to adults and male/female interaction (as in the old maid example)?

What are stories that have a male villain?  I thought of Tolkien but all the characters in his books are male for the most part so it doesn’t count.  Don’t you find that odd that the women is always the villain?  Maybe this is part of the reason I didn’t really like fantasy growing up.  I didn’t relate to the perfect ingenue and I certainly didn’t get the villainesses.

 

Classic Disney

I have always been a huge Disney fan. I love Disneyland and eagerly look forward to new animated films each year. My favorite movie is almost always animated with Tangled being in my top 5 movies of the last several years.  I love the music, artistry and characters we get in any Disney film.  As a child my favorite movies were The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast.

Recently I have been getting classic Disney films on netflix and watching them in order of release date.  It is a fascinating exercise.  I just finished Bambi and one of the things that stuck out to me is how dark the films all are.  All of them have near-deaths or deaths and are painted with a somewhat somber tone.  This is interesting because you would think the last thing audiences in the 30s would want is a sad picture?   Perhaps there was something cathartic about going to the cinema and seeing animated characters persevere through tough times?

For example, Pinocchio, Dumbo and Bambi are basically all about orphans.  There is also a very clear distinction between right and wrong.  In Pinocchio you are either lying or telling the truth, no in-between half nose growth!  In Bambi there is the menace of mankind that is always bad.  There are no friendly humans.  There is just evil and good, and the evil destroys the family.  Interesting.

Snow White is perhaps the most commercial of the early pieces but it still has some unusual touches.  Just as Pinocchio, Dumbo and Bambi are all abandoned by their mothers, Snow White is left with no mother but one that wishes to kill her. I wonder if this is saying the people in the 30’s felt an extra need for the comfort of a mother’s nurturing, that somehow there was a void of this type of nurturing in darkness of the Great Depression?  Perhaps there were groups who wished they could fall asleep until true love saved them.  I can see how that would be a very appealing notion.

Also the dwarfs with their hard working, mining, singing ‘hi, ho’ must have been easy for a depression-era audience to relate to.  The idea of ‘whistle while you work’, a terrific notion for those that often did not have work.

Its fascinating that Disney did not produce another princess movie after Snow White until Cinderella in 1950.  Instead they proceeded to release one artistic, risky venture after another, with none of them having the same easy schtick as a Dopey or Doc in Snow White.  (They did not learn that lesson in the 90s with the ever wearisome sidekicks that muddled pictures like Pocahontas).  From all I can tell Walt Disney was a true artist as well as an entrepreneur and was not satisfied to make mere money but wanted beauty also.

Dumbo is particularly interesting especially when you consider it was released the week of Pearl Harbor.  As a modern viewer it feels very sad but it was looked at as the time as a hopeful piece. The New York Times described it as the “most genial, the most endearing, the most completely precious cartoon feature film ever to emerge from the magical brushes of Walt Disney’s wonder-working artists!”.  Strange how the tone in pieces can change when it is viewed in different eras?

I think Dumbo was hopeful because it was about someone facing insurmountable odds and becoming a star.  It is a very simple story and not much happens but someone who is different finds acceptance and success. The speech by Timothy Q Mouse to the crows must have been especially moving to a nation at war, facing a bully.   Its like Disney was talking directly to the Pearl Harbor bombers and Hitler in Europe.

“You all oughta be ashamed of yourselves. A bunch of big guys like you, pickin’ on a poor little orphan like him. Suppose you was torn away from your mother when you was just a baby. Nobody to tuck you in at nights. No warm, soft, caressin’ trunk to snuggle inta. How would you like being left out alone, in a cold, cruel, heartless woild? And why? I ask ya, why? Just because he’s got those big ears, they call him a freak. The laughing stock of the coicus. And when his mother tried to protect him, they threw her into the clink. And on top of that, they made him a clown! Socially he’s washed up! Aw, but what’s the use of talkin’ to you cold-hearted boids? Go ahead! Have your fun! Laugh at him! Kick him now that he’s down! Go on! We don’t care.”

Dumbo, like  other early films, is an artistic achievement.   Painted on watercolors it has a surrealist quality that is not found in any other Disney film.  Bambi is gorgeous using layered backgrounds and the most realistic animals that had ever been drawn (look at the difference between Snow White in 37 and Bambi and 42 and the animals are quite astounding).  Both Bambi and especially Fantasia were light on dialogue and heavy on music but as visual paintings they work.  In Fantasia they create whole ballets to classic music.

As a child I grew frustrated with Fantasia because of its lack of plot but as an adult I can appreciate it as the work of art it was intended to be.  It is remarkable to think that enough kids were interested in classical music to even justify beginning such a project.  You could never get a new movie like that made today (I know there is Fantasia 2000 but that was geared mainly to adults nostalgic for the original.).

Disney’s boldness in choice of subject, character and tone is especially interesting when you think of the small window of influence the films had.  There was no Disneyland, no large-scale product merchandising.  The film was it.  If it did not do well there were no DVD sales to back it up or large over-seas markets (especially pre WWII).  So the fact they would pick such bold and unorthodox pieces to work on is truly remarkable.

The only Disney classic that I must own to not caring for is Pinocchio.  I found it terrifying as a child, especially the part where the kids turn into donkeys.  Not that I was a lying child but its a pretty grim, scary scene!  Still, watching it as an adult I enjoyed the artistry and risk that such a film took.  The depth of the drawings and level of details are amazing. Also, the scenes inside the whale, while beautiful, are terrifying for a little girl!

I do love When You Wish Upon a Star. One of my favorite Disney songs ever.

I think such a song must have wrung true for the generation of 1940 with war, poverty and despair, a lot of wishing and hoping must have occurred daily.   In a world where we face some of these same challenges perhaps it worth while to view what uplifted them and see if it can do the same for us now?  At the very least its been an entertaining and enriching experience.   I highly recommend it!  Bambi and Dumbo go into the vault (such an obnoxious advertising technique by Disney) soon so act now while you have the chance.

What classic Disney do you like? Do you view them differently now than as a child?  What is your favorite all-time Disney movie?  Do you think we’ve lost something with the death of hand-held animation (I do)?

Snow White- 1937

Pinocchio- 1940

Fantasia- 1941

Dumbo- 1941

Bambi- 1942

Ichabod and Mr. Toad- 1949

Cinderella- 1950

Alice in Wonderland- 1951

Peter Pan- 1953

Lady and the Tramp- 1955

Sleeping Beauty- 1959

101 Dalmations- 1961