Disney Movies: Alice in Wonderland

So here we go again – getting deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole of Disney’s 50s gems, so to speak. Number dix:

ALICE IN WONDERLAND

alice in wonderland

Just a background: Alice in Wonderland was released in 1951 one year after Cinderella and based off the famous book The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, where a young girl by the name of Alice finds herself falling through a rabbit hole and stumbling into the trippiest trip of her entire life. There is literally no sense or organizational manner to Wonderland. Which of course, makes it all the harder to critique. But! Here we go either way —

—STORY CONSISTENCY—

The hard thing about this part of the judging is that when in any sort of universe has the story of Alice in Wonderland ever been consistent? I mean, the only consistency we really see is with Alice growing and getting small again when she eats things, along with the complete circle at the beginning and end of which she is introduced in one place and then back there at the end. As far as the movie goes, however, things run as consistently as they can, despite the story’s lack thereof. We see every character that was seemingly “important” at the beginning come back at the end and little Alice even learns her lesson, we think.

—CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT—

Here, we see that Alice has the most “development” so to speak, but she confused me a tad at the same time. She was supposed to be a little girl, but she was quite well-spoken, aware, and logical for a little girl, British or not, and this made her appear quite mature. Which I’m sure was the point. However, then we would have random moments when she would burst into tears of no real accord, like when she has gotten large again in the small room. Of course, if we had had more indication that Alice was an overall mature girl, then these moments of utter logic in the face of very strange things would make more sense, however, we see that she is painted as, apparently, the opposite of this. She is supposed to be quite an immature and almost silly child who doesn’t pay attention or listen. But in Wonderland, she seemed above and beyond all that, and though she retained her curious child’s edge, she very much abandoned the other two things and was extremely attentive to detail and listened whenever she was in trouble. This shows that, despite it all, Alice actually grew up while away in her dream world, yet came back to her rightful age and maturity level when she wakes up again. It is a strange combination of both development and purposeful lack thereof.

—ANIMATION AND MUSIC—

I’ll admit, when Alice opened her mouth to sing with the flowers, I had to cover my ears. Her voice was much too high to be pleasant! But the flowers seemed to agree with that after a time. However, the animation style has already matured since Cinderella. We see careful and detailed attention put on Alice, which is also nice because she is a girl, and see some familiar bits of animation put into the strangeness and oddity of Wonderland (similarities to Fantasia, I mean). The music, for the most part, was pretty good as well – a lot of the songs were clever and new and funny. The best scene for animation and music creativity was surely the Mad Hatter’s un-birthday tea party scene, where we see Alice’s childhood impatience shine through, as well as the true insanity of Wonderland.

—PLOT COHERENCE—

Even so, this Mad Hatter scene, as well as the Queen of Heart’s scene, are the most well-done pieces of the film. The very beginning is a tad dull and too repetitive to really re-watch or pay attention to when you are older. When she has just landed in Wonderland and is resizing herself all over the place, it gets a bit old. However, once we get past that and hit the forest with the Cheshire cat and the Mad Hatter tea party, we really see more of Alice’s personality stand out and the personality of Wonderland as a whole. Again, we cannot truly critique the plot of the movie, considering it is based off the original story, which truly has no purpose, meaning, or true plot to it. But again! This postmodernness, though something I deeply dislike, is something that was done on purpose and for the sake of entertainment alone. And, by the late beginning and middle of the movie, we are quite entertained indeed.

OVERALL RATING: 7.5/10

 

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Disney Movies: Cinderella

Ah yes, the golden child — finally, right? I feel we’ve had to endure some mighty terrible ones to get to you. And yet, I was expecting worse from this one, strangely. I highly underestimated the old princess ones it would seem. So — onto number neuf, then?

CINDERELLA

cinderella

The usual background: Cinderella was Disney’s jump into the 50s, where his movies suddenly became quite, well — how do I put it nicely? — fantastic, with Cinderella starting us off with its release in 1950. What surprised me the most about the opening credits to this one was the fact that it was based off Charles Perrault’s Cinderella tale and not the other versions, such as Brothers’ Grimm. Which I suppose makes sense, considering Disney would strive to stray as far from Grimm as possible (look at Snow White). I actually read Perrualt’s version for the first time very recently for a uni course! So — go Disney for variation.

—STORY CONSISTENCY—

This story was quite consistent with the fairy tale book theme in the beginning, like most of the other princess and storybook tales he’s done. What was refreshing about Cinderella was that she didn’t start out as a princess, in fact, she started out as the opposite. The story is very consistent in terms of where it starts, where it’s going, and where it ends. We have no real questions as we go through and everything that happens, for the most part, makes sense, especially if you are familiar with the original fairy tales themselves. Cinderella starts off as a poor kitchen wench to her own “family”, shedding light on how awkward living in an abusive family is because, what do you do? Cinderella followed their orders without much complaint because again — what DO you do? How else do you handle that sort of situation besides ranting to your animal friends and then getting the family’s orders out of the way as quickly as you can? Speaking of animal friends — the consistency with them is pretty great. They are always there to help and it makes sense because she was nice to them and even gave them fitting clothes when everyone else was afraid of them or wanted to eat them (mainly the mice in this scenario). And then we have the sub-plot of the prince’s story and probably the first Disney movie to have a successful sub-plot. We see that his father has specific plans for him he doesn’t want to meet and is having a huge row about it, which leads us to the ball. Then of course, it makes sense why Cinderella can’t go initially, and even the fairy Godmother makes sense because, if you’re familiar with Perrault, she’s by a tree when she cries for help. The tree is supposed to be where her mother is buried, hence the magical Godmother figure. It makes sense in the tale, all right? But also is portrayed well here. Along with everything else. Even the fact that Cinderella loses her slipper is consistent because we see her lose it early on in the movie, when it “doesn’t matter”. This was also a beautiful use of foreshadow — by the way. Kudos, Disney. She’s simply walking up the stairs with her hands full when she loses a slipper! Brilliant, really. And even after she’s married to the prince, she loses a slipper again! Oh Cinderelli…

—CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT—

With the above in mind, this movie greatly surprised me with an array of fantastically brilliant and vibrant characters that all really shine as their own personas. The King, for example, was my favorite. He was hilarious, ridiculous, and above all, Kingly. All he wanted was grandchildren, and he was willing to do everything in his power to get them. Even if that meant cutting off his Duke’s head or making his son marry someone he despises. Quite the true Kingsman. Then we have Cinderella, who is honestly quite sassy and sophisticated, behind the family’s back, of course, in a manner mature for her age. Which makes sense, considering she had to grow up quite fast. Her step-sisters are on the opposite spectrum as bumbling, idiotic, spoiled brats, which also makes sense. Even the mice have very distinct personalities. We have Gus Gus, who spewed the best line ever after revealing the newly made dress to Cinderella. “Happy birthday!” he said. Classic…And then, we have Jacque, who is quite a spunky, helpful lad. He even wishes to sew for the ladies, but this one overly stereotypical mouse sings, “Leave the sewing for the women!” which is probably my biggest negative about the movie. But — I guess it is the 50s. Anyway, the male mice ended up helping five minutes later despite. All of these characters go through transformations as well. We see Cinderella finally break down under all of that pressure, stress, and abuse after her dress is ruined. We see the prince finally take to a girl. We see the King calm down about everything because of Cinderella. And! We see the step-family get served. HA! You thought you would win — but you didn’t realize that Cinderella had mice on her side. I also do really like this touch to Cinderella. If animals can trust you, that automatically makes you a trustworthy, kind, and true individual. At least I believe so. And it makes sense, at that point, that she would only put her trust in animals.

—ANIMATION AND MUSIC—

The animation has definitely become less silly since The Adventures of Ichabod Crane and Mr. Toad and grown much more sophisticated, glamorized, and entrancing. We see two kinds of animation in this film: stagnant, flatter animation, like with the castle and the background guards, and the fuller, more detailed animation that we’ve been seeing up until now, with Cinderella herself (finally! The women have detail!), the step-family, the King, and the Duke. Specific actions were given more detail, too. Like when the fairy Godmother is magicking everything into something pretty and presentable, and even the dramatic moments, like when Lady Tremaine realizes that Cinderella had gone to the ball and locks her in her own room. The music has already escalated since Bambi, too. Our first song is quite beautiful and serene, interrupted only by a loud clock that Cinderella herself makes a sassy retort about. And the music continues that way, as well. Some very classic and still famous songs can be found within this track, such as the first one about dreams and the fairy Godmother’s classic, “Bipidi-bopidi-bo”.

—PLOT COHERENCE—

We see that the plot itself has escalated as well since our last Disney. Where Ichabod Crane was silly and not focused, Cinderella was actually quite serious, yet mixed with the perfect amount of comedy, as well as being extremely focused on its task. There were quite a lot of important things that happened in this movie that were so minute and detailed, a child would never pick up on it. Like for example, the simple fact that the fairy Godmother made the actual horse the coachman for Cinderella’s carriage, stating, “Now you’ll get the reins for a change.” Not only is that a great thing to give anyone who is often controlled, but it is a direct parallel to what she is giving Cinderella: reins. A means to control her own life for once. And though most wouldn’t call this movie feminist, what I love about it is Cinderella’s chance to go to the ball had nothing to do with “finding a man” or “seeking love”. She was just seeking freedom for herself, if even for one night. And! She didn’t even realize that the man she danced with WAS the Prince! She was just there to finally shine and have a good time, and love just happened to come, too.

OVERALL RATING: 9.5/10

 

Disney Movies: The Adventures of Ichabod Crane and Mr. Toad

This one was an interesting one for me, considering I enjoy reading these kinds of tales, and had actually quite enjoyed the Legend of Sleepy Hollow as it was originally told. So — number huit:

THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD CRANE AND MR. TOAD

ichabodandmrtoad

Background: This movie was released in 1949, so right before Disney’s famous Cinderella and 50s era. I feel that most don’t actually know about this movie. I hadn’t known about it until I had looked up the list of Disney’s movies for my wee project here. The thing is, this movie is a compilation of two “beloved” tales, one set in England and the other set in New England, as it were. Both written much earlier than 1949. Mr. Toad’s story is straight from “Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame, while Ichabod Crane’s story is from “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving.

—STORY CONSISTENCY—

Even though we have two stories combined into one, I didn’t feel as if there was much of a conflict between the two or lack of consistency. We have a narrator who, like with Snow White, takes us into each story by first opening the actual storybook the tale is found in. This is a nice touch and it is, consistently, done between each new story. We then develop a “battle” between the Motherland and the New Land. Which story is better? Which story contains the more “intriguing” character? And, within each story, we see a high level of consistency that follows the original tales almost to a T. There is really nothing confusing or off-setting about either of these renditions and same goes for the in between that brings them both together into one film. Probably the most inconsistent thing is the fact that the movie title announces Ichabod Crane first, suggesting that his story will come prior to Mr. Toad’s, when in fact, it is the other way around in the actual film. Which is a bit upsetting, especially for an English Lit. major. I mean, basic thesis writing Disney, come on! Not to mention that the main picture for the movie only features Ichabod Crane, which is also a little depressing. If Mr. Toad’s story isn’t that important to you, then don’t feature him! It’s probably because his was the English one…

—CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT—

Now, ironically we see more character development within Mr. Toad’s story than within Ichabod Crane’s. What I did like about Ichabod Crane’s story, however, is the fact that no one actually speaks in it. The characters’ lives are told to us via a (not annoying, for once) narrator, as well as through song and sudden instrumental dramatics. But this also provides for less character development because we see the characters as they are and that is basically it; they do not change. I mean, Ichabod Crane was obviously the most interesting character and probably the only one that was an actual character. The others were more like blank shells – especially Katrina – who stands out as the extreme archetype for the “beautiful, American bell with blond hair” and who has no actual personality at all. Sadly, I was not surprised that this was the classic “American” tale that Disney chose to feature and that they chose to portray Katrina in this way. For the featured English tale, we get to hear the characters speak and each one has his own specific character traits. Of course, there are no female characters, which is probably the reason behind this, but even still, each one starts out a specific way, goes through a brief transformation, and then, even if they go back to how they were before (hint hint Mr. Toad and his mania), we see that there has been thought put into them either way. I for one loved the attention Disney put into the various accents. My favorite, as anyone who knows me can guess, was Angus MacBadger, considering he was a well-structured attempt at a Scotsman.

—ANIMATION AND MUSIC—

The animation for this movie is better since the atrocity of Song of the South, but it also doesn’t quite live up to the standards that Disney has already set for himself. I’m starting to wonder if there were some movies he just didn’t care about as much and so let them fall to shit a bit. The animation for this movie comes across as very silly, which goes along with the actual story line of the whole movie. However, the animation itself portrays a certain level of deliberate detail. Like how Katrina looks the specific part of a stereotypical Swedish beauty, how Ichabod looks like a scarecrow, and how the animals within Mr. Toad’s part are shaped according to their personalities. For example, Ratty was stuffy, sophisticated, and rather pompous – he looked just like John Watson, actually, with his brown tartan clothes, pipe, tall, stiff demeanor, and old English hat. The music was fairly average based on what, once again, Disney had already achieved. Nothing really stood out to me, except there was a level of over-dramatized instrumental moments.

—PLOT COHERENCE—

So I have to admit that this whole movie just came across as rather silly to me. Even the dramatic bits, for both Mr. Toad’s and Ichabod Crane’s stories, came off as not very serious and quite ludicrous. The reason the consistency worked so well is because the stories themselves were fairly simple and almost followed the original tales too well. The only bits that weren’t from the originals were unnecessarily ridiculous moments that were dragged out and overplayed, like when Mr. Toad is running through the water and through bushes with his horse and cart, though I’ll admit that was pretty funny, and when Ichabod was getting chased by the “headless horseman”. With this in mind, I feel like Disney took the original tales and actually dumbed them down for this production. The story is so simplistic and silly that there is not too much point to it, in the end. Neither of the narrators decide which characters were “better” and to be honest, the way the stories were portrayed, I didn’t really feel like they were great characters to start out with. But, perhaps the point of the movie was to be sillier versions of otherwise much more “seriously” told tales. And with that in mind…

OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10

What do you think?

Disney Movies: Song of the South

All right, so I was deeply excited for this one purely because of the repulsion everyone seems to carry with it. Not to mention the hush-hush attitude and the fact that Disney oh-so-characteristically pretends it no longer exists. So – shall we begin? Number sept:

SONG OF THE SOUTH

fakeasfuck1

Here’s some background: Song of the South was released in 1946 at a time when racism was still fairly prominent. Hell, will it ever STOP being that? Anyway — end rant before it starts — what surprised me the most about this movie was that it was primarily set in live action. The animated parts only took up about 30 minutes total of the 1.30 movie. Apparently, this movie was supposed to be a collection/take on actual slave stories told while they worked on the plantation. There were some pretty well-known people in it as the cast, but that does NOT make up for what is to come. Which is, my friends, the reason why this movie has been so hush-hush and thrown into the gutter.

—STORY CONSISTENCY—

The consistency of this movie actually wasn’t too bad, though we’ll get to the rest later. Though the first time the movie suddenly changes from live action to animation — literally with the popping of Uncle Remus into another scene of sorts — we are quite surprised. At least I was. But then, as soon as that switches back around, we know what to expect from the rest of the movie. Whenever poor little Johnny gets into trouble of sorts or he ends up in the same scene as Uncle Remus, then we know another animated story is about to come. And we also know to expect the same kind of animated stories. All of them center around Brer Rabbit and his two foes, Bear and Fox. The animated stories actually weren’t all that bad. If the whole movie had just been centered around that, or perhaps all animated, maybe it would have been better. But, they were at least consistent throughout the whole film, while the film itself was fairly consistent, too, in terms of what it showed. Even the “blackness” of the whole film was consistent. And by this appropriation, I mean that the whole movie, cartoon and not, was very much heavily “black-ified” in terms of dialogue, manner, and even voice. Unfortunately.

—CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT—

Now, with this in mind, I felt like the characters were quite terrible for most of the movie. The emphasis on positive “blackness” really wreaked the whole thing, I think. First of all, the story took place on a plantation and centered around white folks being served by overly happy African American folks who were, clearly, slaves on this plantation. Funny thing is, you only see the house slaves. You never go out to see the actual working plantation slaves. In the beginning, we even have Johnny’s grandmother tell one of her little house boys to take Johnny out to see the plantation, but they never go. Even Disney knew THAT wouldn’t be appropriate. But we still have the majority of the African American characters standing around, smiling and looking peacefully content with their lives. Hell, even their dialogue was atrocious. It was like none of them had any emotions at all except wise ol’ glee. While the white characters were overly dramatized to the point of it being ridiculous, the African American characters were dumbed down into drones who didn’t seem to care about the unjustness of the real “song of the south” they were living in. Of course, that was the thing, wasn’t it? The whole movie was very fake. Even the white plantation owners were treating the slaves quite well, but there was some tenseness even in the acting. It was hard to miss. On top of this, no one really grew as characters. The only real character development was with Uncle Remus, but even he didn’t change much, just went through a difficult period where he decided to temporarily run away. (But for reals this time). Johnny remained an annoying little runt who just ran around and stole people’s puppies, creating the big central conflict for the rest of the movie, his mother remained the silent, meddling white woman, and Uncle Remus was and always will be the “zip-idi-do-da” guy who told stories. Strange to think that phrase and song came from this movie…

—ANIMATION AND MUSIC—

Well, considering that half of the movie wasn’t animated, this category becomes harder to judge. However, the animation that did exist in the movie was okay. It wasn’t any better or any worse than the other movies we’ve seen up until this point. Except perhaps Bambi, because that one was still one of the best animated ones so far. But, if we look at the live action side — the acting was, honestly, pretty darn terrible and the dialogue was a very low blow to really anyone, black, white or anything else. It was fake, unnatural, and above all, fairly lazy script writing. The music was pretty interesting, but nothing quite to the capacity or level of Disney’s past pursuits.

—PLOT COHERENCE—

Here’s where we’ll take a trip down ranty lane. You thought Pinocchio was bad — oh hell — you’re in for a wild ride. Not only was the racism and lack of script originality high in this film, but utter pointlessness was too. I didn’t mind the animated bits as much, like I mentioned before, though they also had their problems. But let us begin with the live action bits. First, we see that this film is very biased and white-centric, even though the title is promising us otherwise. Secondly, everything is too scripted, to the point of falseness and fake characters. This also makes for a false story. One top of this, what exactly IS the song of the south? Because I feel as if I have learned nothing about the South’s old, terribly racist, slave culture at all. In fact, I haven’t learned anything except why this movie has been banned from the United States. This movie’s whole plot is that a young white boy is visiting his grandmother on her Georgian plantation, his father has to mysteriously disappear, his mother has to nag all the time, and he feels the need to run around the front — front only — of the plantation with all the African American characters. Then he meets this girl with a dog and the dog becomes the big “conflict” for the next 30 minutes. Who’s dog is it? Why do you have it, Johnny? Take it back! No, I CAN’T have it — how am I supposed to feed that thing? You know, stuff like that. Then, every time there’s a mysterious break in the pointlessness, Uncle Remus tells a tale about Brer Rabbit. Initially, this was the main thing on Johnny’s mind. He came to the plantation only wanting to find Uncle Remus because he had heard about his “stories”, apparently. But before Johnny can even hear about these stories, Disney feels the need to Huckleberry Finn this shite and have Johnny try to run away after his father, only to be caught by Uncle Remus, who then volunteers to run away with him. It almost becomes pedophilic, to be honest, which is similar to Pinocchio. Funny thing is, these stories reminded me of a black version of these French children’s stories that we had read aloud in my language classes. They featured a rabbit, who was always on the verge of getting cooked by Fox and Bear, but who always managed to figure out some sneaky way to get out of it. Now, these, again, “black” versions of the story cast Brer Rabbit as more of a trouble-maker who isn’t very wise in his decisions, the Bear as quite a daft bimbo, and the fox as a rather insane rabbit hunter with not much sense either. The fact that they are black-cast makes these stories then turn into stereotypical archetypes that are unfair, unjust, and just wrong. Which makes the whole movie appear so. I did enjoy the strong friendship that Uncle Remus and little Johnny formed from the story telling and trouble-making antics, but the whole thing just felt over-done, wrong, and unoriginal despite.

All in all, Disney should have waited to attempt this movie in 2100, when society will hopefully be less racist. However, Disney could have made the movie better by involving an actual plot, hiring script writers who actually cared, and just chatting with some African Americans maybe? Or just making it not so dewy-eyed. No, and I mean no, African American was that happy to be a slave, whether a house one or not. But again, we didn’t even see the real plantation workers, did we? We just focused on the story-teller guy who surely existed on all plantations and favored the little annoying white boys.

Sorry Song of the South, but you were a real bust. The only real thing about you, unfortunately. ‘Merica was right to kick you out, I think.

OVERALL RATING: 1.5/10

What do you think?

Disney Movies: Make Mine Music

This was one of those Disney films that people either pretend didn’t exist or they literally just don’t know about it. Well — let’s find out if it’s one or both. Number six:

MAKE MINE MUSIC

Make Mine Music

Just some background: Make Mine Music was released in 1946, so it would appear that Disney had decided to (finally) take a few years’ break. This movie works much like Fantasia, only…It also doesn’t. There are 10 different short skits in this one, but with each skit, comes a different orchestra and set of instruments. In fact, there are so many people and musicians featured in this movie, I don’t think I dare list them.

—STORY CONSISTENCY—

With this in mind, the story itself, as a whole, overarching movie, is not very consistent. At least Fantasia always offered us the interrupting Deems Taylor, all that we see that connects all of the slightly ridiculous skits together is music and the continuous promise of another skit. Until, of course, the last skit, to which I was surprised had been the last. There wasn’t much indication that it would be, after all. But, just as the skits themselves are lacking in connection, the music is as well, adding to the confusion in consistency. Some of the skits seemed to feature more music than others, while most had an annoying narrator speaking throughout the entire skit. But we’ll go more into this later. The disjointedness of the whole film came across, to me, as a compilation of Looney Tunes’ skits instead of Disney animated ones.

(Again — we’ll skip character development because there are too many to count and not enough time to develop them all.)

—ANIMATION AND MUSIC—

One would think that, if there were good things, they would all exist here. Unfortunately, even with its’ title, the film still fell a tad short in this category. Fantasia succeeded in the sense that the skits were only told through music (and, for the millionth time, Deems Taylor). But not just any music, instrumental music. This is what saved this movie, I think. And for Make Mine Music, I was expecting the same thing. But instead of focusing on what we could do brilliantly with a set of instruments, any music at all was drowned out by narrators speaking through the entirety of almost every skit. The only skits where there were no narrators were skits with singers, and those were probably the best ones. This greatly took away from the film for me and I wasn’t able to appreciate much about the skits because of it. With this in mind, I felt like the animation had downsized quite a lot since Bambi. In Bambi, we see Disney’s sophistication and character rise by at least half, whereas in this film, it is downgraded more than that with overly silly caricatures, annoyingly intrusive narrators, and skits without much depth. The animation itself is okay, but even that has declined since Bambi. A lot of the characters within the skits were lacking individuality and distinct features. The whole thing honestly came across as a project that was heavily rushed.

—PLOT COHERENCE—

This movie reminded me a lot of Fantasia and I wondered if it was Disney’s attempt to recreate that borderline masterpiece in a different light. However, where Fantasia mostly succeeded, Make Mine Music mostly failed. Once again, Fantasia really only worked because it was a film compilation of skits being represented and told solely through music of an instrumental nature, while Make Mine Music was constantly interrupted by unnecessary dialogue, narrator intrusion, and silly animation that took away from the whole point: the beauty of music. In terms of individual plots, I personally disliked most of the skits. Even the nicer ones, like the silhouette ballad, did not really do much for me because it was so simple. Even now, the only one I think that I really enjoyed was the love story about the hats. It was quite clever, sweet, and had less of a voice over than the others. In fact, the only speaking in it was through song, which was, I feel, the whole point Disney was going for anyway. But the only others I can think of are the ones that I disliked most of all. (Which was the Peter and the Wolf rendition, if you’re curious, for its extremely obnoxious narrator, Russian appropriation, and misrepresentation of wolves, which I know at the time was not as big of a deal, but still bugs the shit out of me.)

So there you have it. One of the lesser known films made by Disney, and perhaps for good reason. Probably the best thing about this film were the featured voices in it, but that’s not saying much for Disney. Especially as the film to proceed Bambi. I’m sure he quickly learned to stick with Fantasia-like productions and his classic, animated icons after this one was produced.

OVERALL RATING: 3.5/10

What do you think?

 

Disney Movies: Bambi

Well…This one surprised me, too. But in a very good way. I had only seen Bambi a few times as a kid and had never really understood it. And my, what an instructional, dark, and oddly inspiring movie it really is. It almost reminded me of Watership Down, but with much less terrifying images and more of a purpose. So, here we go, number cinq:

BAMBI

Bambi2

Some background: Bambi was released in 1942, just one year after Dumbo. At this point, one can tell that Walt Disney himself seems to have a fascination/interest in animals over humans. And you know what? I can’t blame him, especially after re-watching this movie. Disney also studied all the animals he featured in this movie, particularly deer. In fact, he brought a live deer to the set so he could watch his movements and behaviors. His dedication was top-notch for this one and it showed in the whole production.

—STORY CONSISTENCY—

Don’t be fooled by the happy-go-lucky pictures here. This movie is not all lighthearted. In fact, it is very consistently terrible and sad. However, both the lightheartedness at the beginning and end, as well as all the terrible, realistic parts in the middle, are extremely consistent. It is clear that the concept of this story is not only to preserve and protect nature, but to respect it. Every time something terrible happens, it is always caused by man. Man is the forerunner of danger, trouble, and death, which makes sense in a movie like this. But also, sadly, makes sense in real life as well. The movie is perfectly consistent from start to finish, with not a single step out of line. We see Bambi born, hear about the meaning behind his “Prince” title, join him as he discovers the forest and his new furry friends. We also witness the seasons change, and how the story is consistent with reality in terms of what would happen during those times. Then we see Bambi grow up, reconvene with his friends, and come into “season” during the spring time. The story is not only consistent with the seasons and the plot itself, but with how forest animals, particularly deer, act. Disney has Bambi fight a fierce buck for Feline, which is realistically mature and consistent with the lifestyle of an actual deer, especially during spring time.

—CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT—

We go through this ravishing tale of nature by following the beloved characters Bambi, Thumper, Friend Owl, and Flower. Bambi’s mother is apparently nameless and his father is simply known as “The Great Prince of the Forest”. On top of this, most of the characters, even Bambi, are quite flat and do not develop much past their actual maturity and age development. However, the characters are still quite well-done and the fact that they do not change much is simply another positive element to the story. The thing is, the characters are purely instinctual — living out their lives in the forest the way a deer, rabbit, owl, or a skunk, actually would. We just get the pleasure of hearing them speak about the experiences as they go. The lack of development actually works well for this story because it further demonstrates this instinctual lifestyle as well as puts emphasis on the more important matters of the story, such as the change in seasons and the growing unrest with man. Bambi himself is a beloved character besides — as a child, he is delightful, clumsy, and cute. Thumper is the hilarious younger sibling who always gets into trouble, while Flower remains the bashful, shy one all throughout the story. Though all of them do grow into more mature “adults”, so to speak, they never lose their individual characteristics, which is I think one of the main reasons the story does so well. Like when Bambi runs into Feline again, trips over the rock, and lands backwards in the water, just like as a kid. And she corners him and licks him, just like as a kid. Even Thumper continues to thump his foot long after he finds himself a she-rabbit. I think it was really quite clever, too, how Disney added in the relatable moments when Thumper continually gets scolded and has to recite the “greens” rhyme that his father taught him and so on. And then, in the very end, we get reunited with them once again! But not just them, their children as well.

—ANIMATION STYLE AND MUSIC—

Here, we really see Disney mature. Not only was the animation style much more sophisticated and refined, but the music was unbelievably incredible, pure, and unique. It was clear that, on top of studying the deer’s movements, he also studied the deer’s physical appearance. The animation captured what deer truly looked like, especially the candid shots of The Great Prince as he turned to stare at Bambi, so well that even I was amazed. And this was created in 1942! Before anyone really cared about preserving nature or respecting it. So way to go, Disney. Starting a long-awaited trend. Beyond this though, the animation also captured nature itself very well. The seasons changing and the leaves blowing and the rain dropping into the stream. It was all very beautiful and quite sophisticated, compared to Disney’s earlier films. The music reflects this beautiful maturity and sophistication as well.

—PLOT COHERENCE—

The plot could not have been more coherent, in my opinion. We never stray from the initial plot line or task, which in this case would be to see Bambi safely grow up and learn the ways of the forest, and all of our questions, if we even had any, go answered. The ending leaves one feeling just as carefree, lighthearted, and satisfied as the beginning starts one out. Though not much really happens, we also see early on that a crazy action concept is not the point of the movie. And in fact, despite its seeming simplicity, this movie contains quite a lot of depth hidden underneath the surface. The darkness of how man’s presence affects the forest is a real, pressing issue that we face today. On top of this, the ethical-ness of hunting and how careless man can be within nature, like with the fire scene, from lack of respect and understanding, are also big issues still today. If not worse so now. We cover not only the basics of animal survival, but the importance of the seasons and their role in life. But most important of all, Bambi teaches us how to cope with loss and how sometimes, you just have to keep moving despite it. Because, no matter what, life will go on and we must get up and go with it if we want to survive.

This movie is definitely one that is made more for adults. Its maturity level is one that I never understood as a child, and its sophistication is something I did not appreciate then, either. I’ll admit that, as a child, I had been confused by most of the plot. I hadn’t understood The Great Prince’s role and how he was related to Bambi. I also didn’t really get how everything in the story was connected. But upon watching it now, as an adult, I understood everything almost too well, got deeply involved with the story, fully appreciated the upgrade in style, and even cried several times. This movie was an instructional wake-up call to all humans. Man sucks. Which, I suppose, I always knew anyway.

OVERALL RATING: 9.5/10

What do you think?

 

Disney Movies: Dumbo

So this movie was one that I had only seen a few times as a kid, but after seeing it again, realized I maybe should have seen it more. This film turned out to be a great one for adults and children alike and is one that most surely hold close to their heart. So — number quatre:

DUMBO

Dumbo2

Just some background: Dumbo was released in October of 1941. So at this point, it’s clear that Disney is on a streak. He isn’t wasting any time since Pinocchio. It was another old movie with credits in the beginning, but what this movie does that the others didn’t is focus solely on animals. And not just animals, but animals from the circus. During this time period, circuses were much more of a thing. But they were also unethical and as unromantic as you could get, especially with how they treated their animals. Particularly their elephants. And! I think what Disney, perhaps even on accident, does is give audiences a brief insight as to this circus cruelty while also somehow spinning this movie into one of lighthearted glee for all. So — let’s begin!

—STORY CONSISTENCY—

The consistency of this story was as true as Snow White’s, only broken by the strange, infamous trip scene of the ‘Elephant Parade’. But at the same time, once we know that the characters are drunk during this, then the consistency goes out the window anyway. Does anyone really know what happens in that space of ultimate drunkenness? But we see Dumbo (or properly Jumbo Jr.) get made fun of for his ears the whole story, which also becomes the main conflict/progression for his mother to be chained up, etc., and we see in the end that it is an insecurity he overcomes by learning to do something cool with them — flying! The story is consistent with this idea, even during the strange interruption of drunken antics. (My roommate and I actually speculated that it was Absinthe because why else would they trip that ridiculously under the influence of alcohol? Those clowns really know how to party apparently!)

—CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT—

With this in mind, the characters progress quite a lot, too! Dumbo goes from being a scared, insecure elephant that just wants his mom back, to being able to take care of shit on his own. He even serves it back to the other, rude elephants who keep disowning him and crappy shit like that! And the fact that Dumbo never talks is actually a plus. I like that he has no speaking lines. He doesn’t need them to become the central character, the one that we stick behind and emphasize with. The mouse friend, Timothy, is a great character, too. Though perhaps he never really progresses that much, he stays strong and true until the very end. And, as a mentor and best friend, he serves his purpose well (unlike Jiminy Cricket over there). He’s still funny and sarcastic without quite being an asshole and helping Dumbo through his worst of times. Even the slightly racist crows are pretty iconic and progress in a matter of 10 minutes when Timothy tells it to them straight for laughing at Dumbo’s ears.

—ANIMATION AND MUSIC—

Here, we see that the animation is not much different from Fantasia and even Pinocchio, but this becomes a strength for this movie. Who doesn’t like Disney’s classic animation? I’m starting to think that it doesn’t really change until the 90s’ Disney movies rose from the depths and made their marks. And because our focus for this movie is on the animals, the animation is actually better. If we had any women for example, there would be less detail on some of the characters. But! Because of the focus on these intriguing animal characters, we see a lot of intricate, familiar detail. The few humans we do see are painted in grotesque ways to reflect their personalities, like the ugly red-headed human who makes fun of Dumbo’s ears in the beginning by flapping his coat. His face is actually made more animal-like. The music in this movie is also pretty sweet. We’re getting more into culture with this movie and can hear the jazz elements that were becoming more popular at the time. Obviously, it’s mainly with the introduction of the crows that we really hear the jazz tunes, and though that may be a tad racist, once again, it also adds a happy, lighthearted note to the whole film. Even the creepy trip scene with pink elephants gives us a catchy song to hold onto.

—PLOT COHERENCE—

Though the story didn’t have a lot of depth, its plot is cute, fun, and even at the best of times, deeply touching and sad. It was one that had a more basic plot line to follow, which makes it better for children, especially with the more vibrantly colored scenes, but also was interesting enough for adults to allow themselves to enjoy. Most everything we saw made sense, even the fact that Dumbo could fly. I mean, we saw 5 elephants pile on top of each other, balanced precariously atop a single, red ball, so what could be more unbelievable than that at this point? But like Snow White, the movie does not have to explain these small “unbelievable” things as much because everything else just makes enough sense for us to follow the whole thing through. The only thing that perhaps still confuses me now is how Timothy and Dumbo got up in the tree at all, but again, when you’re under the major influence of alcohol, are there really any explanations at all? The story follows its plot the whole way through, we see the characters grow and become stronger, and we end on a happy note, with Mrs. Jumbo out of her prison and Dumbo free to fly behind the train with his best friend Timothy and crow supporters.

OVERALL RATING: 8.5/10

I was just happy there were far few sexual innuendos in this movie. What do you think?