Saturday, December 14, 2013

Who's the Best... Classic Disney Animated Feature?


Doug:  Let's go pre-Lion King (1994) on this one, kids!  Some sample art is below, to jog those foggy memories.


12 comments:

William Preston said...

Pinocchio by a mile.

The film's strengths are also its weaknesses. Built of a series of set-pieces, it seems it shouldn't work as a story, but som ehow it does, and every set-piece is brilliant. (The undersea portion is astounding, especially taking into consideration the hand-drawn nature of it.) The first day of his life, he goes to school, and he never comes back, so no "normal" is established, but the writing contains such energy and purpose, you forget to look for what it doesn't provide, which by the end is rendered superfluous. Structurally, the film is built wrong, with way too much time on the set-up, but that set-up is, all-in-all, Disney's finest. The voice-work can't be topped.

One other benefit: There's the one ethnic/cultural stereotype, the "gypsy" who runs the puppet show (and munches whole garlic), but that far, far less offensive (to me, anyway; probably not to actual Roma) than the usual Disney racial stumbles and outright bigotry.

My middle daughter, now in her 20s, watched the movie endlessly when she was three years old. She was obsessed. A sign of the movie's excellence is that her obsession never drove me crazy.

Graham said...

It's hard to pick just one for me. Growing up, we didn't have a lot of money, but we always went to see the Disney movies when they resurfaced at the theatres at various times. My favorites were Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Snow White, and Dumbo.

Of the four, Pinocchio was probably my favorite of all.

I actually didn't get to see Dumbo in the theatre, but my kids loved it when we got it on video.

I know the stereotypes are there in Disney movies and others of the time, but as a kid you just think they're funny characters....or at least I did....call me naive or whatever, but I was a kid.

Redartz said...

Wouldn't have picked this as a kid, but by college my favorite was "Fantasia". I thought the different approaches taken to animating each piece was refreshingly novel. My favorite segment is Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. It makes a powerful score for the animated geologic progression of the earth. And it had dinosaurs; considering this perhaps I would have chosen this as a boy...

Edo Bosnar said...

Fantasia for me. I remember being spellbound when I first saw it in a movie theater at about the age of 11. And Redartz, yes, as a young dinosaur enthusiast, I was particularly fond of that Stravinsky section. However, as a young mythology enthusiast as well, I also liked the part with Beethoven's Pastoral that featured characters from Greek myths. For me, Fantasia has stood the test of repeated viewings in high school, college and later - its just such a treat for both the eyes and ears, and the non-digital animation is gorgeous.
My second favorite is the Aristocats - haven't seen it since I was pre-teen so I don't know how well it holds up, but I remember laughing through most of it back then.

themiddlespaces said...

Fantasia.

I also love 101 Dalmations.

Robin Hood is the worst(of the pre-Lion King), though the Aristocats gives it a run for its money.

themiddlespaces said...

Oh and speaking of stereotypes and racist caricatures. Despite being good in other ways, I cannot watch Peter Pan or Dumbo b/c of this.

I WOULD like to re-watch Song of the South out of curiosity since I have not seen it since I was a kid and I want be able to judge it for myself (though I am sure it is as bad as I have heard)

Matt Celis said...

My kids like The Aristocats and 101 Dalmatians. I like O'Malley the alley cat and his jazz buddies. I also like Baloo from The Jungle Book. I'll go with Aristocats as the best.

Doug said...

Osvaldo, I agree -- I'd like to see Song of the South again. I recall seeing it in the theater when I was in elementary school. My aunt also had a storybook about it, so I vividly recall the Tar Baby, etc. For my money, these things (Warner Bros. cartoons of this ilk are plentiful on YouTube) stand as historical markers of a time when we really weren't all that bright. In my opinion they need to be made available, at the least for educational and discussion purposes.

William P -- I got a lot of mileage out of the "donkey boys" in the Pinocchio film when my oldest was a tot. Whenever he told a fib, I just asked him -- do you want to grow up to be a donkey boy? That usually ended it.

Doug

Fred W. Hill said...

Admittedly it's been decades since I've seen any of the classics, but my favorite was always Pinocchio -- a great adventure with a lot of heart and a character who has to grow from a naive rather self-centered woodenhead to a more responsible, caring person. I remember seeing it for the first time at a drive-in theater in Long Beach, CA, in 1971. Saw a lot of Disney animated classics in the early '70s, but that's still my favorite.

William Preston said...

Some years ago, I taught to 7th graders--as part of a unit on fairy tales and fables--the original Collodi story of Pinocchio. Great stuff. Brutally harsh. (The little wooden boy is killed as a result of his disobedience. Collodi brought the character back, somewhat awkwardly, for a happier ending in a second tale, though the two stories now appear together.)

I often have shown the "red man" scene in Peter Pan to students so we can discuss racist imagery. (It's hardly casual in that film: Tiger Lily is made a different skin color so that her hooking up with Peter can be visually tolerable. The other natives and inhuman and truly red . . . and they sing a song about it.)

I think Song of the South, from my recollection, isn't actually problematic, but Disney panicked and pulled the film from circulation. To the English teacher and historian, the problem is more the source material: a white man taking stories from blacks, putting it into their patois, and selling it. But it's not like the Grimms compensated the old women who told them (and their sisters) those German tales. I'd love to see the film again.

Matt Celis said...

All I know..."Everybody, everybody, everybody wants to be a cat!"

Edo Bosnar said...

I also remember liking the Jungle Book a lot when I first saw it, although now the only things I remember about it are the cool songs by Baloo, "Bare (Bear?) Necessities," and "I Wanna Be Like You" by the monkey king - I also love the cover version of that song by Los Lobos.

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