First some History. In 1923 Walt Disney animated a short film version of Alice in Wonderland which involved a child actress interacting with animated characters and objects. This film brought Walt to the attention of Margret J Winkler who commised him to make a whole series of Alice comedies. After these comedies Walt contiuned to produce films until in 1934 Walt decided to break from the Winkler company and produce his own films. The first of his pictures was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Taking 3 years to complete Snow White Premiered in 1937 and by 1939 was the highest grossing film of all time. This began the Rise of Disney. Other films were produced until Walt died in 1966 of lung cancer. This marked a fall in the quality of the films. Roy Disney Walt’s brother, took over until he died in 1971. The Dsiney company had varied leadership until 1984 when Micheal Eisner took over and began to produce original, albeit Disney, movies. History done.
Walt Disney’s death diminished the quality of the pictures until in 1984 Eisner took over. His first major film released under his leadership was The Little Mermaid in 1989. This period (1989-2001) is referred to by film historians as the Disney Renaissance. These films remain some of Disney’s best, Lion King, Tarzan, Heracles, Mulan, The Hunchback of Notre Dame etc. This period also marks the ressurection of the classic Disney Cliches.
Princesses who want more
Princesses who remain princesses despite the fact their Father is absent
Making the main characters animals
Prince and Pauper mentality (Where a poor man falls in love with a princess)
Deathes of family members
These cliches can be observed in most of the films of the Disney Renassiance. This does not, however, mean that Disney had no originality to it in this period. We saw the rise of the Disney villian and the evolution of the musical aspect. These aspects were not absent from the films before the 1989 period but were not as defined or as used. Disney gave us some of the most enjoyable songs and villians in all of movie History, hell the Disney Villain has become a brand and my God are there some good ones. We have Ursula from the Little Mermaid with her original design, Frollo from the Hunchback of Notre Dame with his darkness, Scar from the Lion King with his dictator style attitude. These are some complex and enjoyable villains. The songs are just fantastic, Hakuna Matata, under the sea, out there, all brilliant. The best songs, however, are the villains songs. These are just some of the most enjoyable songs ever. They can be dark, bouncy, exciting and most of them build up to big boisterous conclusion. These are some of the best Hellfire from Hunback of Notre Dame, Poor Unfortunate Souls from The Little Mermaid, Be Prepared from The Lion King, The Worlds Greatest Criminal mind from The Great Mouse Caper, Freinds on the Other Side from The Princess and the Frog and My Lullaby from Lion King 2
Disney has taken big risks and chances with its films. They have produced some really dark and sad moments. especially for children. The Lion King had the Father killed early in the film much like Bambi’s mother in Bambi. Happiest place on Earth my ass! This is a big thing in any movie but a childrens movie? This is because Disney had always wanted to target both adult and children audiences. Disney can also be very dark. Hellfire is certainly the darkest Disney song. It has a religious man singing about the gypsy woman he desires and that if he can’t have her then the fires of Hell can. This is by far one of my favorite Disney songs and it certainly pushed the boundaries, mentioning hell and the devil a number of times and even haven some red fire guys spring out of the floor like dasies. Its strange but very dark. This is not to say that there were not dark movies in Disney before this. Maleficent, Sleeping Beauty Villainess, calls apon the powers of Hell a number of times. Scar sings about murder. This is a dark company and thats a good thing. Disney tries to keep its original charm but while still targeting the bigger audience of adults by including cultural refrences, Aladdin and Heracles are very guily of this, and keeping it dark.
Disney has introduced the world to Daffy Duck, Mickey Mouse, Pluto, Goofy the list is endless. These are some staple characters from the original Disney of the 20’s, the silent era Dsiney. These characters then moved into talking films and television making them some of the most famous characters ever to grace the screen, though I would argue Looney Tunes and Warner Brothers had far more enjoyable characters. Now, around the 2000 ish mark these characters becan to dissappear, sure we still had house of mouse but that’s been crumbling recently. Instead of these characters Disney tried to launch a new era of television programming, conentrating mainly on the teen market. It is here that such programs as Lizzie Maguire, Corey in the House, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Thats So Raven, Even Stevens and Phil of the future, but believe me there are many more. These programs were often very stupid but I can think of only one exception from the list. Thats so Raven was about a Girl called Raven who could see the future, she could not control her ability and so saw only glimpses of the future every now and then. This was a good premise and led to some good episodes, it was an enjoyable program. This was raped by a spin off show. Corey in the house. Corey was Ravens brother and left with his father because the Dad had gotten a job as chef at the White house. This was stupid I hated this series. Hated, hated, hated, hated, hated this series. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it. In short it was shit.
Now to be fair Disney has had some fantastic animated shows even if the live action series usually failed. These animated series included Duck Tales, Recess, Loyd in Space there just great. They were enjoyable, funny and all around nice programs. Now many of you might say that it was the animation itself that caused the success of this type of programming. Animation allows for more things to be done. The look of some of these programs are just fantastic I love them. I would however argue that Lizzie Maguire used some animation, so why didn’t the entire series just go back to animation, that may have actually been good. They didn’t take advantage of what they had, the plot fell down here.
Now for what you’ve all been waiting for….probably… The most and least succesful Disney movies. The most successful Disney movie is Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs grossing $1,500,000 making it one of the most successful films of all time. This was the big one. It is THE Disney movie, the princess, the villain, the fantasy element all Disney cliches, all nessarcery elements of Disney. In short this movie incoperates everything that makes Disney great. The plot and premise are excellent, the visuals are great. It is just brilliant. The least successful of the Disney movies is Treasure Planet grossing only around $200,000. I actually enjoyed this film. I loved the way it looked and I thought it was a valient attempt to update and modernize the treasure island story, a masterpeice by Robert Louis Stevenson, setting it in space rather than at sea. The characters are great as is the voice talent, David Hyde Pierce, Emma Tompson, and I did love the visuals. The premise is great as is the plot and I like the idea of an entire planet being filled with treasure. However the ships did look very out of place, I don’t see why they kept the old Galleon style rather than space ships. To be perfectly honest I don’t see why this film failed. In fact none of the Disney films failed so much and I love them all, they are to be treaused. Disney truly is the king of animation.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: 10/10
Treasure Planet: 8/10