Can Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time Possibly Live Up to the Book?

@lisriba - Thanks very much for the warning. I've gotten sick from 2D films, so....yeah, for this one I think I will wait for streaming/DVD.

Driving Without Wonder: Pixar’s Cars

Mickey is much cuter than any of the cars in Cars, and to give Mickey the credit that he deserves, he has never tried to live INSIDE THE BODIES of his friends.

Though one of his duck friends does make a habit of carving up the neighbors for Christmas dinner, so....ok, point to Cars here.

Fairy Tales and Trauma: Kate Forsyth’s The Wild Girl

Ella Enchanted, book and film, is on the long list for this series, as are Robin McKinley's books, but it may take a while to get to them.

Dark, But Not Quite Weird Enough: NBC’s Emerald City

As far as I know, neither the Tin Woodman or the Cowardly Lion has appeared as of the third episode. I say "as far as I know" since I've seen some fan theories that Eamonn is either the Tin Woodman or the Cowardly Lion. 

The Cowardly Lion did appear in some publicity stills, so presumably yes, that character is coming, and one of the AVClub reviewers, who saw all ten episodes, hinted that the Tin Woodman is also coming.  But even if Eamonn turns out to be one of them, both of them will still probably end up being considerably less significant than the Scarecrow, given the Scarecrow's role so far and the fact that he and Dorothy will presumably start to make out at any time now. (SIGH.) 

The double moons seemed to be an accidental reference to Wonder City of Oz - accidental because a) I cannot bring myself to believe that anyone involved in this read that book and b) in typical "wait, I'm writing a book?????" incoherent John O'Neill fashion, it's not always clear if O'Neill is referring to a moon or a star. 

 

Dark, But Not Quite Weird Enough: NBC’s Emerald City

- David MG and Sps49:  You may be confusing the Cassidy brothers. 

David Cassidy is the teen idol from the 1970s, probably best known for starring in The Partridge Family. His daughter Katie Cassidy is probably best known for her work on Arrow and Supernatural.

Shaun Cassidy is his younger half-brother. After acting in a few projects in the 1970s and 1980s, he started working as a producer, involved in projects like American Gothic (1995), the really horrible Roar (late 1990s; I admit that the memory of Roar made me question watching this), Invasion (2005) and Hysteria, out from Amazon last year. He mostly focuses on cable and genre shows. 

R.K. Robinson: I do find it rather odd that,given all the film/television versions of Oz that we do have, we still haven't really seen anyone try to just, well, film the books, instead of filming some sort of twisted version of the books. Even the films Baum worked on didn't. Even the book that he wrote from the script of one of those films ended up not really having that much of a relationship with the film. 

Everyone: Something I should have clarified in the post - instead of covering this weekly, I will probably only do one or two more posts - a wrap up post once this season has ended, and, depending upon how Emerald City continues to handle or not handle the Scarecrow's plotline, a possible post on portrayals of disability in the series. We'll see. 

 

Wrapping Up the Disney Read-Watch

Regarding box office gross receipts for 2016: The discrepancy depends upon which source the lists are using - that is, U.S. domestic receipts, some by worldwide box office receipts. 

If you are using U.S. domestic receipts, currently Finding Dory is at the top of the 2016 charts. If you are using worldwide box office receipts, Captain America: Civil War is currently at the top of the 2016 charts, and Zootopia is still on some international screens.

Both Zootopia and Moana will also benefit from increased box office receipts starting next summer, when they are released for special domestic matinee performances, along with other full length feature animated films. 

Regardless, by any measure, Disney had five of the most successful films of 2016: Zootopia, Captain America: Civil War, Finding Dory, The Jungle Book, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, with Doctor Strange also appearing on some top ten box office receipts in some countries. In virtually any other year, I suspect Disney would also be crowing about Moana, which has more than earned back its $150 million reported budget ($405 million worldwide as of last weekend); it's just that Moana is probably not going to break into any of these top ten lists.

(Again, much thanks to Box Office Mojo for all of this.)

Wrapping Up the Disney Read-Watch

Joe P -

I covered James and the Giant Peach back in 2013. I'll be covering all of the post-purchase Pixar Disney films in the Pixar watch.

In general, though, I feel the sooner the planet forgets that Disney ever made Bambi 2, the better. 

The Call of the Sea: Disney’s Moana

MByerly -

I, too, took archaeology and anthropology courses, not just in college, but in graduate school as part of a PhD program in history/anthropology.

What I mainly took from those courses is that it is generally highly questionable, if not flat out wrong, to extrapolate features and studies of any North American culture - Algonquin, Navajo, Disney - and assume that any of these features will necessarily apply to any given South Pacific culture. 

I'll also add that I am not attempting to romanticize any given culture. Some native American cultures did engage in destructive environmental practices. But claiming that the majority of them did so on a regular basis is, first, vastly oversimplifying a considerably more complex situation (starting with the huge fact that native American cultures ranged from populous urban centers to hunter gatherers, with necessarily different impacts on their surroundings) and second, completely irrelevant to the post, which is not about native North American cultures, but about South Pacific cultures AND 21st CENTURY DISNEY CULTURE, which, as the post and Disney itself have pointed out, is also not the same as South Pacific cultures.  

I will also add that nowhere in this post did I claim that Moana accurately represents the environmental practices and beliefs of historical Pacific Islanders - even Disney isn't trying to make that claim. Nor at any point did I attempt to romanticize Pacific Islanders, or claim that native North Americans never engaged in environmentally destructive practices. 

Indeed, the only entity attempting to romanticize Pacific Islanders here is Disney, which in Moana explicitly blames environmental destruction not, as you are arguing, on the actions of native groups, but on the actions of divine beings. In other words, the only person arguing here that native groups DON'T engage in environmental destruction is, to repeat, Disney.  In my post, I specifically critiqued this argument, and Disney's decision in this film to claim that environmental destruction is caused by uncontrollable forces (magic) and can only be reversed by uncontrollable forces (magic), which, although sometimes true (see, volcanoes and tsunamis) leaves out the role that humans play in environmental destruction.

If, as you argue, romanticizing native groups is as bad as demonizing them, then the entity you should be calling "silly" and "condescending" is not me, but Disney - the one doing the romanticizing.

Meanwhile, I'll point to Mayhem's comment, which notes that South Pacific cultures varied in their approaches to the environment, with some cultures practicing destructive environmental methods and other cultures practicing more sustainable methods. In this sense only, this sounds very similar to native North American cultures - with some practicing destructive methods and others practicing more sustainable messages.

That said, given that the interactions of all cultures with their environments is an incredibly complex subject - and, incidentally, another thing I studied in graduate school when I headed back for the second time, to study marine biology and marine environmental science - I think we all might be better off chatting about the film and that rooster.

Jay D - Well, maybe this means we'll finally get the package films in the correct aspect ratios, too late for me to comment on them!

Browncoatjason - Which is why people should be very careful around reefs to not get in that situation!

AeronaGreenjoy - Except for the glam crab, most of the marine life depicted is pretty vague. So apart from that, and people talking to the ocean and the ocean grabbing people and swinging them around, I don't think you'll find anything too inaccurate. 

Aeryl - That's an interesting take on Disney Princesses, thanks!

The Call of the Sea: Disney’s Moana

MByerly -

First, Moana makes no claims to be depicting "reality." It's not a documentary. It's a fantasy film featuring a demigod, a sentient ocean, a demon, some coconut pirates, and a ghost. 

Second, Moana superimposes a number of current American ideas on its South Pacific setting, including jokes about Disney Princesses, Twitter, and The Little Mermaid. It even has an entire sequence based on Mad Max, Fury Road, which came out just last year, in 2015. The issues it raises about resource deprivation and responses to dwindling resources are current concerns for many Americans.

So yes, I have no problem judging Moana for what it is - a contemporary American film from a company that at least claims to be interested in environmental issues and conservation practices. I'm not judging Pacific cultures here. I'm judging Disney.  

I do, however, find it interesting that you've responded to a post about a film featuring South Pacific Islanders with a statement essentially trashing all "native" cultures, especially since you admit in that comment that this only "apparently" is true about South Pacific cultures. Hmm. 

 

This Week in the Arrowverse: Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Villains

Rocketjay -- I'm not sure about Flash or Legends of Tomorrow, but back in seasons 1 and 2 of Arrow, it seemed that about half the streets in Starling City were named after various DC writers, editors and artists - mentions of "the corner of O'Neil and Adams," for instance, or the big fight in the season two finale that just happened to be at the Giordano Tunnel.

 

Breaking Away from Your Programming: Wreck-It Ralph

Austin - The end of the film also specifically shows her still using her glitch form in order to win races in Sugar Rush, so, yeah, she's still a glitch. 

Breaking Away from Your Programming: Wreck-It Ralph

Terngirl - The plot hole: Showing Vanellope the Glitch over in Hero's Duty,as a bridesmaid at the wedding of Calhoun and Fix-It Felix. Except - Vanellope's a glitch who can't possibly leave Sugar Rush. The film spent some considerable time telling us this. Plot hole.

Breaking Away from Your Programming: Wreck-It Ralph

- Jade Phoenix - Although DisneyQuest is scheduled to close "soon," as of today it's still open, so I'm assuming the arcade cabinets are still there right now. They'll presumably be shifted over to one of the resorts once DisneyQuest starts its transformation into the NBA Experience. 

An Adorable Dog in an Unbelievable Premise: Disney’s Bolt

ChristopherLBennett - Oooh, yeah, I completely forgot about the way that television often shoots scripts out of story order. Add THAT to the many issues with the premise of this film.

Udderly Awful Yodeling: Disney’s Home on the Range

AlcairNovall - We skipped A Goofy Movie, DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp, Piglet's Big Movie, Pooh's Heffalump Movie and a couple of Tinker Bell films because they are products of the DisneyToon Studios, not the main Disney Animation department, and not listed by Disney on the list of official Walt Disney Animation Studios feature films.

I did leave three questionable films in the rewatch either because they were connected to Walt Disney Animation Studios or turned out to be important films for the history of the studio. This included Victory Through Air Power, which Disney does not list (or consider) a Walt Disney Animation Studios film, but which was produced by the Disney animation studios in between listening to military test flights; Dinosaur, which was not produced by the main Disney studios, but which Disney currently lists as a Walt Disney Animation Studios film, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which featured cameos from classic Disney films and helped launch the Disney Renaissance.

 

Treading Ink: Disney’s Robin Hood

Thanks for all of the input, everyone!

Brief note on Mary Poppins: it's not in this Read-watch/Watch-watch because I already covered the film and the book a couple years back.

Book:

http://www.tor.com/2014/03/13/magically-cruel-surrogate-parenting-mary-poppins/

Film:

http://www.tor.com/2014/04/03/a-spoonful-of-music-makes-the-nanny-disneys-mary-poppins/

And yes, there's quite a time jump between Robin Hood and Fantasia 2000, but all of those films were covered in the Read-Watch, bringing us to Fantasia 2000, followed by Dinosaur.

 

The First True Disney Romance: Lady and the Tramp

Everyone - Whoops on the typo there.  Thanks for catching/fixing it!

ChristopherLBennett - I actually haven't seen Zootopia yet. That's coming up, though.

Lisamarie - Oh, Aunt Sarah is definitely prejudiced against dogs and fails to notice what her cats are up to, but I don't think Lady and the Tramp is particularly subtle here - all is safe and well at home until Jim Dear and Darling take off, leaving their home in the care of a stranger.

Eduardo Jencarelli - Walt Disney ordered the animators to keep the film's time and place ambiguous: from the costumes and cars, we can presumably say probably early 1920s; the place someplace in Midwestern America, but both of those are arguable. It's more of an idealized place that never really existed.

KYS - Well, Lady was out with a Tramp (pauses to make sure that I've typed that correctly this time) all night. HORRORS. Plus, given the appearance of the puppies, I feel we can make some assumptions about what happened that night.

Yeah, it's a very Victorian moment, but the dogs are gentlemen. Beyond the one night stand issue, though, I think there's something else here - when Jock and Trusty show up, there's at that point a very good chance, in the minds of the dogs, at least, that Aunt Sarah might kick Lady out completely, leaving her homeless. So it's partly for the purposes of defending her chaste reputation, and partly to ensure she has a home.

Quill - Disney did its usual stunt of pulling the U.S. DVD/Blu-Ray from shelves for a few years, but that's always followed by another release, so I think you can replace your worn out copy eventually.

Shanna Swendson - Awwwww!

Forcing a Theme: Disney’s Fun and Fancy Free

@Saavik - The DVD I watched and the current streaming edition available on Amazon/iTunes/Google Play only have the Edgar Bergen version. The Blu-Ray might have other options. I was just so relieved to get a version in the correct aspect ratio this time that I didn't worry too much about the narration.

@ChristopherLBennett - Ah, thanks for clearing that up! I've only seen bits and pieces of Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, though I have heard the stories about Candice Bergen.

Forcing a Theme: Disney’s Fun and Fancy Free

@Percysowner - I won't say "totally unmemorable," because the Mickey cartoon has some great moments, and the bear cartoon has all that bear slapping, but....definitely not on Disney's most memorable list either.

@Daedylus - That gag might well be in this film - but if so, I've already forgotten it, and I returned the DVD to the library already, sorry!

@Hoopmanjh - Thanks for that correction; the first Blu-Ray combo to pop up on Amazon for me was the slightly cheaper UK import; I missed seeing that there is a U.S. one as well. And yeah, combining the two package films makes sense - they're very similar films.

@Lisamarie - Yeah, as ChristopherLBennett notes, the conceit was that Charlie and Mortimer weren't actually puppets, so, basically this little girl is over at a house with three grown men trying to serve her cake and tea and alcohol.

Ok, that's not that much better.

The other version of Mickey and the Beanstalk is the same cartoon short, just with the Edgar Bergen and the puppets stuff taken out, and narrated by a different narrator.

@SunDriedRainbow - Yeah, and unfortunately, doing it this way means we get one highlight of Lady and the Tramp (puppies!) before hitting another line of near misses and complete misses until, I think, Lilo & Stitch. On the other hand, we get Lady and the Tramp.

@AeronaGreenjoy - I don't pick the pictures for the post, but the picture is of Bongo being fun and fancy free, so fits the post. The quote is from the moment in the film when Donald Duck is about to attack the cow, one of the better moments in the film.

To be slightly fair to Disney on the bear slapping, both genders do the slapping. It only goes badly for Lulubelle because she slaps the wrong bear, so he naturally assumes she likes him.

 

 

Donald Duck’s Goodwill Tour: Saludos Amigos

Lady and the Tramp is coming up right after Melody Time. 

If memory serves, the original water ride at the Mexico pavillion didn't feature Disney characters at all. The new one, however, definitely includes Donald Duck, José and Panchito, and Donald and José are usually part of the character meet/greet just outside. You can also find their merchandise inside the Mexico pavillion and at the Coronado Springs resort.

 

Donald Duck’s Goodwill Tour: Saludos Amigos

Quick note: yes, that final gif, which I love, is from Melody Time, not Saludos Amigos, which I think says all you need to know about both Melody Time and Saludos Amigos and everyone's ability to remember either film.

Werechull - I freely admit I was initially unenthusiastic about including the anthology films, but having just rewatched the complete WTF that is The Three Caballeros, I'm kinda glad we're sneaking these last six films in.

StoryCottage - Interesting! Walt Disney World attracts a lot of Brazilian tourists, and I've definitely seen them at the Mexico pavillion, but I admit I just assumed that, like so many of us, they were there for the tequila bar, not Jose. 

Mirana - That is....an odd claim to fame. I'll just leave it there.

Animation as War Propaganda: Disney’s Victory Through Air Power

Werechull - Song of the South is even harder to track down, although international versions are floating around. 

Sardinicus - Disney repackaged the first bits of this film - the cartoon ones - as part of a "History of Aviation" sequence which was getting farmed out to at least one school (mine) as late as the 1970s. 

ChristopherLBennett - Good question! I don't know.

Matchstick - The U.S. Air Force, yes. But the narration of this film tries to muddle things a bit and claim that it wasn't just the Air Force that was struggling to be taken seriously, but the entire aviation industry. The second part isn't true - people certainly took planes seriously. 

I'm not sure if this inspired the later film or not.

Animation on a Budget: Disney’s Dumbo

The next post is on Victory Through Air Power, which I left out of the original Read-Watch mostly because it's not exactly part of the standard Disney canon, and partly because although it was certainly based on a text, it was less "let's adapt the text" and more "let's have the author come into the studio and read his text in between Lockheed Martin takeoffs and landings." A number of people were upset that I left it out of the Read-Watch, though, so I'm taking the opportunity to squeeze it back in here. 

After that, it's back to more typical Disney films with Lady and the Tramp, The Aristocats, and Robin Hood.

Animation on a Budget: Disney’s Dumbo

My bad. This is what happens when you post things in a hurry.

Exploring Other Disney Franchises: Big Hero 6

Shrek, Shrek 2, Shrek the Third and Puss in Boots all received PG ratings, as did Robots.

The Toy Story films have so far all slipped in with a G rating, although I really have to wonder what the thought process was behind giving Toy Story 3 a G rating. I mean, ok, yes, it's still a film about toys, but kids in my audience were freaking out and crying because they all thought Buzz Lightyear was going to die. 

Then again, kids in my audience were also freaking out about March of the Penguins since apparently no one had told them - or their parents - that life is tough in the Antarctic and sometimes cute little penguins get eaten, something that apparently went right past the MPAA's radar because apparently they are the sort of people who cheer on mean penguin-eating leopard seals. The conclusion I get from this is to never really trust film ratings.

Exploring Other Disney Franchises: Big Hero 6

Hi everyone!

The Frozen line is:

"Don't know if I'm elated or gassy"

Which was interpreted as a fart joke, thus "mild language." 

(I'd actually classify the ballroom/balls lyric as a bit worse, but that one probably flies over the heads of most children.)

ChristopherLBennett - This tends to be a failing of US media in general, but yeah, it's not great here, especially since it should be relatively easy to change the skin color of animated background characters.

On the other hand, the only Disney animated films with large numbers of POC background characters are Dumbo, Pocahontas, Mulan, Lilo and Stitch, and The Princess and the Frog. Dumbo aside, all of these films have something distinctive in common, so I kinda like having a PoC centered film where the background characters are white.

I didn't initially read Honey Lemon as Hispanic, but that interpretation works.

AetherCowboy - The Black Cauldron tanked in theatres for a number of reasons, but the issue wasn't why it tanked, but why Disney executives believed it tanked - two different things. They felt the PG rating was one of the reasons. And they may not have been entirely wrong - before the PG-13 rating was created, PG really did mean "ok for most kids, but not for small children," and it's very possible that the PG rating helped keep families with four and five year olds out of the theatre. My little brother and I had huge issues trying to persuade our parents that we really really WERE big enough to see Star Wars even if it was a PG movie. I mean, I was NEARLY SEVEN, clearly totally grown up.

With Winnie the Pooh - the 1970s compilation film did fine in the theatres. The 2011 film, unfortunately, was released on the same weekend as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II. I expect Disney executives figured that Winnie the Pooh could draw in audiences with children too small for Harry Potter - and that the children made the same argument my brother and I did with Star Wars. We won that argument, by the way.

 

 

The Movie Rewatch of Great Nostalgia: Return to Oz

And as in the 1939 film (and, I presume, the original books), another great thing was how the characters and objects in Oz reflected people and things Dorothy encountered in the real world.

Nope. That was a complete invention of the 1939 film. The books don’t really discuss much about Dorothy’s life in the United States at all, beyond telling us that she lives on a Kansas farm with her aunt and uncle, which they later are at risk of losing because they can’t pay the mortgage, presumably because between those periods Dorothy and Uncle Henry trot off to Australia and California.

The eggs, though, are straight from the books. This is the Nome’s King’s explanation:

“You don’t understand,” retorted the little monarch, nervously. “Eggs
belong only to the outside world–to the world on the earth’s surface,
where you came from. Here, in my underground kingdom, they are rank
poison, as I said, and we Nomes can’t bear them around.”

 

Loved the review. Thanks!

Magic and Choices: Disney’s Tangled

Everybody -

First, I want to thank everyone for being so open and detailed about their own past experiences with domestic abuse - I think that helps explain why that ending scene strikes a chord with so many people and why interpretations of it are so different.

I did want to add two more quick notes to that: 1) I did acknowledge that Rapunzel was also ignoring - or trying to ignore - Flynn/Eugene's choice; I'm not trying to let her off the hook for that. But she doesn't get to go through with her choice; he does, so I focused more on that choice. 2) I realized, hours after this post went up, that I am, in part, approaching that scene from a disability perspective. And from that perspective, my concern is not just that Eugene/Flynn is ignoring Rapunzel's express wishes and making a choice about her disability for her here, but that this is framed in a romantic light. That can be a dangerous framing.

With that, I will agree that the moments right after that, where Eugene makes it clear that he was always interested in Rapunzel, not her hair (unlike Mother Gothel), and that he loves her without her magical hair, are far more empowering and romantic.

On to other issues - 1) no fear, fans of Maximus the horse! I like him. I would have said more about him but this post was already incredibly long. 2) Although Disney marketing, for a number of reasons, classifies Merida as a Disney Princess, Brave is technically a Pixar film. 3) That said, regarding both the skipped films and the Pixar films.....well, keep an eye on this website.  

Forbidden Desire and Locked Doors: “Rapunzel”

Birgit  - Again, that's a bit more of a when and where situation. The medieval period covered about a thousand years and several different countries, and included a lot of variations. There's Italian records showing medieval marriage ceremonies occurring within a church, not in front of it, and there are medieval English records of the marriage ceremony starting at the front of the church, and then continuing inside the church. By 1274, marriage was listed as one of the seven sacred sacraments, which meant a Mass - even if not all weddings included a Mass.

I think, though, that this discussion about marriage ceremonies (including my contributions) is missing a crucial point: this isn't a story about what happened originally or in the medieval period. Parslinette is a 17th century story, written after the Counter-Reformation, which again listed marriage as one of the seven sacred sacraments. This didn't, of course, stop clandestine marriages or people sleeping around, and doesn't mean that all marriages of the time included a mass.  But by this point in France, at least, weddings were supposed to include witnesses and a priest. Not including them, or being able to produce them, was one ground for having a marriage annulled. De la Force's own marriage was annulled, and she very definitely slept around without the benefit of witnesses or clergy blessing her union - and she was writing for an aristocratic French audience who knew about clandestine weddings that later got annulled. Parslinette's prince could have waited to seduce her until they had a chance to find witnesses and a priest - but he didn't. 

James Moar - The number of stories in Household Tales based on tales originally published in French suggests that you're right, although later editions of Household Tales went to great lengths to eliminate "French" elements in order to focus on German culture, and some tales - Cinderella, for instance - probably came from a much earlier variant, and not the French source. 

Forbidden Desire and Locked Doors: “Rapunzel”

Lisamarie - Prince Uncharmings, really. It's kinda sad to realize that that the most charming prince so far as been a frog. There's one mostly charming prince showing up in a couple more posts, but he's a very minor character, so I'm not sure he counts.  

AeronaGreenjoy - One reason I like to study and explore fairy tales is because for all their magic, most of them have deep roots in reality.

Robinm - We'll get into the Disney take in the next post, but yeah - all of these retellings had very different intentions. De la Force was writing a tale that reflected her experiences at the French court; the Grimms were working to preserve and celebrate German culture and values, and Disney was trying to adjust to a new creative director, expand an extremely financially successful corporate franchise and sell art prints.  The final result was bound to be pretty different.

K Blodgett - I don't know if these posts will get collected into an ebook or not - I haven't had the chance to talk to anyone at Tor.com about it. But I'm glad you seem to be enjoying them!

Noblehunter - I think it depended upon where you were and who you were. I remember reading some studies of English households in the 13th through 15th centuries that noted just how few lower class households bothered with the full religious ceremony in many areas. That part was important for upper class households and cases where inheritances or property transfers were involved, but it also cost extra, so many couples apparently elected to just declare themselves on the church steps and then move in together, since that was cheaper.  The Wife of Bath may have been referring to this when she mentions that she had five husbands at the "church door," but fails to mention the "church" part. To be fair, at the time, the first part of the marriage service was usually read at the church door, so that part strongly suggests that she did have a full marriage ceremony, but her wording also suggests that it's possible that she just took the five guys to the church and announced they were married, but didn't pay the fee for the Mass. Regardless, the rest of the tale shows that all five of her marriages were legally recognized, even if she didn't go through the full religious ceremony.

Upper class marriages, though, which is what this story is mostly about, generally required witnesses - Henry VIII made sure at least a few people were around to witness his marriage to Anne Boleyn, even if he then ordered them to stay quiet about it, and Louis XIV's secret, morganatic marrriage to Madame de Maintenon was attended by witnesses, who later agreed that included a full religious ceremony, including a Mass. So....yeah, I think de la Force wanted us to raise a few eyebrows here. In her society, legal marriages included a religious ceremony, and this dude is SUPPOSED to be a prince.  Since her own not exactly approved of marriage was annulled, she was aware of how meaningless the term "marriage" could be in upper classes if families and other authorities didn't approve.

Aeryl - Heh. Charlotte de la Force was a member of the court of Versailles from around 1664 until 1697, when she was exiled.  I'm not sure about the dates for Julie d'Aubigny, but her father had multiple court connections, and by 1690, she was working for the Paris Opera, making occasional appearances at court. I don't know for a fact that they met - a lot of people lived and worked and went in and out of Versailles. It's a huge place. But it's not impossible. 

 

The End of an Era: Disney’s The Princess and the Frog

PsiPhiGrrl - Technically, Ratatouille is classified as a Pixar, not a Disney film - it went into development years before Disney purchased Pixar, although by the time it was released, Disney had purchased Pixar, and Disney ended up distributing the film. It was considerably more successful at the box office than The Princess and the Frog, probably why the Epcot Food and Wine Festival generally uses Remy, not Tiana, as a mascot. 

To your larger point, however, of the princesses who have so far followed Tiana - Rapunzel, Merida (also, technically a Pixar film), Anna and Elsa - only Elsa is employed at the end of her film, as the Queen of Arendelle. Tangled hints that Rapunzel has the ability to become a professional artist, but the film doesn't show her choosing this as a career. Merida could presumably find employment as an archer, and ends her film working on weaving a tapestry at the end of her film, but there's no real suggestion that she'll be doing either on a full time basis.  Anna just seems to be having fun.

Frozen 2 may address this point, at least with the "not officially Disney Princesses yet" Anna and Elsa. But you're correct: so far, Tiana is the only Disney Princess to end her film with a job, although Mulan ends her film turning down a job offer, and Pocahontas ends up not marrying John Smith because she's needed in her community. Tiana and Pocahontas are the only American princesses, and Mulan is the one Disney Princess who, technically, isn't a princess at all - she and Li Shang aren't royal. 

The End of an Era: Disney’s The Princess and the Frog

PufNStuff - Nope, I didn't forget about Home on the Range. It's a Disney original, so not part of this Read-Watch, but I mentioned it at the end of the post about Treasure Planet.

Home on the Range came out in 2004, five years before The Princess and the Frog, which came out in 2009. Its poor box office performance - it failed to earn back its production costs at the box office - was one reason why Disney almost entirely stopped making hand-made animated films, although Disney had already started to move in that direction before that film was released, based partly on the poor to very poor box office performance of most of the hand-animated films after 2000, with the exception of Lilo and Stitch, and the major success of the computer animated films produced by Dreamworks and Pixar during the same period. The next releases - Chicken Little, Meet the Robinsons, and Bolt were all computer animated; The Princess and the Frog was the only hand-animated film to go into production after Home on the Range.

As of right now, Disney and Bob Iger have not announced any plans to return to hand animated films. The announced upcoming films - Moana, Gigantic and Frozen 2 - are all computer animated.

The End of an Era: Disney’s The Princess and the Frog

ChristopherLBennett - To be somewhat fair, hand animated films are more costly. That said, all but a couple of the hand-animated films have more than earned back their initial costs, including some that were originally box office flops, and that's before including the way the hand-animated films have helped to sell the theme parks and vice versa. The counter statement to my comment above about Tiana merchandise is that 80 years later, Snow White merchandise is still selling and tourists are willing to stand for an hour, some of this in the Florida heat, to ride a little Snow White roller coaster. I'd also argue that the two hand animated films that have failed, so far, to make back their budget (The Black Cauldron and Treasure Planet) failed to do so for reasons that have nothing to do with how they were animated, and that since Sleeping Beauty eventually earned back its costs, it's possible that over the long term Treasure Planet still might, despite my own reservations about the film, given its status as a cult favorite. In checking for something else entirely, for instance, I just saw that a couple of local theatres are showing The Princess and the Frog again for afternoon kiddie matinees; no reason why Treasure Planet can't do something similar.

And, of course, as Walt Disney himself pointed out, Disney started with a mouse. A hand-animated mouse. 

My sense is, however, that Bob Iger is currently more concerned with ESPN than with the benefits of keeping the Disney hand animated tradition alive. 

Jer - I'd have to agree that the marketing for The Princess and the Frog did not do the film any favors. 

The End of the Disney Renaissance: Tarzan

Two quick clarifications!

1. Apart from the fact that all of the Pixar films are originals, yes, Pixar and Disney were separate companies until 2006, although Pixar helped develop the CAPS system that Disney used in many of the Disney Renaissance films, and Pixar's chief creative officer, John Lasseter briefly worked as a Disney animator.  Pixar actually started out as a Lucasfilm subsidiary before becoming more of a Steve Jobs project. In one of those twists that can only happen with mega media conglomerates, Disney's purchase of Pixar helped lead to their purchase of Lucasfilm.

We'll be discussing the Pixar/Disney merger when we cover Meet the Robinsons (which does have a textual source) and The Princess and the Frog.

2. I wasn't trying to be cruel towards any of you or The Emperor's New Groove, which yes, is one of the more hilarious Disney animated films, with two particularly great moments: the restaurant bit, and "Why do we even have that lever!" Plus, of course, Eartha Kitt.

But in terms of Disney animated history, not only is The Emperor's New Groove a minor film, but it also had very little impact one way or the other on the studio, other than raising some alarm bells when its box office totals were compared to the 1990s Disney animated films and the Pixar films. It simply didn't do well enough or badly enough to force the studio to change directions, although Disney has yet to make another "Warner Bros" style film.

I will, however, cop to loving Lilo & Stitch just a bit more.  Come on, guys! DESTRUCTIVE ALIEN. PLAYING ELVIS. Versus David Spade as a llama. No contest.

Girl Power, A Cricket, and a Dragon: Disney’s Mulan

- Alan Brown - Someplace I still have the little Chip (of Chip and Dale) that I drew there, and I gotta say, seeing that room filled with Star Wars video games just wasn't the same feeling. Maybe Disney can add a similar Pixar one as they build the Pixar part of the transformed park.

- Matt - In one Chinese version, the Emperor is actually Turkish, and the historical Huns did reach central Asia where they may have encountered some Han Chinese, so it's not entirely off. With that said, I'm pretty sure the only thought process on Disney's side was to invoke Attila the Hun.

John C. Bunnell - I've never seen Tales from Earthsea.

Girl Power, A Cricket, and a Dragon: Disney’s Mulan

- Lisamarie, I admit part of my musical judgement here is based on "does Disney frequently play this song at Epcot? Yes/no." So I'm ok with judging songs based on how many times the songs appear in other Disney collections.

But yes, I'd still say that "Reflections" is a weak song - arguably the least memorable of all of the Disney Renaissance ballads.

- Mutantalbinocrocodile - I know at least one set of rough recordings of the cut Schwartz songs were made for the directors/producers/executives/storyboard artists, but I don't know if there's an official release of those.

Mulan taking an official role would have been interesting, but her return home fits with the original legend, and I never got the sense that she wanted to work in government - she just wanted to feel that she had a place in life.

- Mirana - Yeah, and it didn't help that Disney decided to start selling some of the (very limited) genuine animation cel art at the Disney-MGM store and some at the Downtown Disney store. The Wyland Gallery at Disney's Boardwallk occasionally has some original animation cels for sale, but it's sporadic - and since they're apparently no longer carrying Guy Harvey's stuff, I don't visit as often.

Atlantis: The Lost Empire did only moderately well at the box office - after marketing costs were included, the film actually lost money - and when the Disney Princess franchise was introduced, Disney was still trying to repress all memories of The Black Cauldron, which is why Kida and Eilonwy were not added to the Disney Princess line.

- Werechull - I'm not particularly focused on feminist concerns, but when either "girl power" or the Disney Princess franchise became part of the development process, as in Mulan and The Princess and the Frog, it'll come up in the post. It'll also come up in the upcoming I NEED TO GAUGE MY EYES OUT WITH A SPOON post. 

JuanitoI'd never seen that link before, thanks!

youngheart80 - Thanks for the compliment! As far as I know, there's currently no plans for an ebook edition of these posts - I'll just try to keep tagging them correctly so they're relatively easy to find.

Adam McLain - Great picture, especially given the film that's coming up in two more posts.

 

 

 

When Gargoyles Interrupt Your High Concept Film: Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Everyone - on a completely self serving note, I'd just like to point out that in my own Beauty and the Beast retelling, the Beast is not transformed back into a human. 

To get back to Hugo and the discussions of Les Miserables for a moment - yeah, I'd have to agree with Bayushi on this one. The musical has some lovely inspiring quasi-religious songs. The novel does have the one saintly bishop at the beginning, but after that, I found myself wondering if some priests had kicked Victor Hugo's puppy. 

Regarding Kingdom Hearts - I've tried, but attempting to play the game left me with a severe migraine. I like the screenshots I've seen though.

Thebobquaz - On the one hand, part of me wants to see Disney do a new version of this film with the same music but different voices and at most limited gargoyles. On the other hand, Disney seems to have abandoned hand drawn animated films (at least, from what John Lasseter is saying right now), and while quite a lot of their computer animated work is genuinely beautiful, I think I would constantly be comparing it - negatively - to the hand drawn animation of this film.

 

 

 

 

When Gargoyles Interrupt Your High Concept Film: Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Jenny Islander - Yeah - his ability to accept that Esmeralda is in love with someone else is what gains Quasimodo something else he needs and wants: two friends. In contrast to Frollo, who can't accept that, and thus loses everything.

 

When Gargoyles Interrupt Your High Concept Film: Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Mutantalbinocrocodile - Thanks for that; I've never encountered the musical. I definitely think "A Guy Like You" would work much better as a clear hallucinatory sequence, rather than as it is in the film: possibly a hallucination, possibly not, and unquestionably happening at the completely wrong time.

MikePoteet - The music and the art deserved fewer gargoyles.

AyeJaeSedai - That's a fascinating reading of the film, and it's not completely wrong - but it's also a little bit at odds with the film, which more than once does seem to be making the argument that Quasimodo should get the girl. even as it also admits that this is her choice, and shows Quasimodo accepting that.

M - I don't think I'd classify the film as a children's story either (and the novel definitely isn't) but that is how Disney originally marketed it, right down to the Burger King campaign with the little gargoyle toys. My sense is that marketing hurt the box office take - some adults who might have loved it avoided it because they thought it was a kiddie movie. Meanwhile, since this is really not a film for small children, the box office take probably also took a hit from that.

SKM - As I noted in the post, I think one of the stronger points of this film is that it does accept that Esmeralda has the right to make her own choices, even if its main villains disagrees. So I don't think I did miss that point in the movie.

The film itself, though, spends considerable time asking that question, so I think it's fair for viewers to discuss it.

Sean Burcher - Frankly, the sheer amount of Herakles/Hercules material is a bit overwhelming, and that's before mentioning comics. We'll see what ends up in the final post.

Architecture, Fire, Melodrama, and a Goat: Victor Hugo’s Notre-Dame de Paris

Greg Cox - And I didn't realize that you didn't realize that this was part of a Disney discussion - but yes, the idea of this particular series is that I look at the source material and then the Disney film, only discussing other adaptations if they had some sort of effect on the Disney film, as, for instance, with Tarzan, coming up in a few more posts.  Disney sources suggest that the Les Miserables musical was a much bigger influence on their version of Hunchback of Notre Dame than any of the previous Hunchback adaptations.  

And sure, Esmeralda, like Quasimodo, is very much a victim of circumstance, and I get why she's not into the poet - but there's a reason that the poet chooses to save the goat instead of her in the end, and a reason why I cheered.

KT - I've been using multiple sources. For the older films, I found the book irritating, but Neil Gabler's Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination goes into the financial side and background tensions, as do the memoirs from the other animators. For art info, The Art of DisneyThe Encyclopedia of Disney Characters, the various encyclopedias and studies from Rob Thomas, and several other works, and people at Wyland Galleries at Disney's Boardwalk. The multiplane camera is currently at Hollywood Studios (probably not for long, though - I think a new Pixar ride is heading there.) The lawsuits about Winnie the Pooh were covered by Variety, Forbes and The New York Review of Books, and Variety discussed other insider squabbles. The Pixar War and Forbes have provided some of the financial background, and most of the DVDs have additional background info. Interviews from Michael Eisner and Bob Iger are available in various online sources. Disney Pin Trading info is pretty much from Disney cast members at Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom.

Nylmat - Oddly, given the death toll and how much Frollo is trying to stop anyone from ever having any fun at all, the book has a number of laugh out lord moments.

Architecture, Fire, Melodrama, and a Goat: Victor Hugo’s Notre-Dame de Paris

MariaHaskins - Yes, it's definitely dark - only slightly more cheerful than Les Miserables, and that mostly because it doesn't really have an equivalent to the Waterloo scenes. That might have been part of its appeal for me, to be fair - I watch Game of Thrones and the CW's attempt to rival GoT's deathcount, The 100.  Plus, 

Lisamarie - Pretty much all of them except for the goat are miserable, awful people that I kept hoping would die, and then they did! My sort of book! But yes, the authorial asides are nowhere near as bad as they are in Les Miserables, and grim as the book is, it doesn't have people picking over corpses in the battle of Waterloo, so it's got that going for it.

ElliotJ - I was just thinking about pacing issues in story, especially now that we have so many television dramas that seem to want to burn through story in a rush. Even dramas that started out relatively slow paced - Downton Abbey - with some lingering plots - have the Bateses murdered anyone? HAVE THEY? Find out four seasons later - end up rushing at least some of their plots - hi, Matthew and the miracle walking!

This book, despite a lot of scenes with people running around frantically trying to kill each other, rarely feels rushed, even in the last few suspenseful chapters.

Greg Cox - The post mostly stopped where it was because it was getting too long already, and there's been a number of film/stage adaptations - 13 films and two television adaptations plus the different stage productions and the Pugni ballet, which is still in performance in a few locations, though I've never seen it.

I'm not sure if anyone at Disney saw any of the silents, although if they did, it was probably the 1923 film. The 1939 film may have encouraged them to, shall we say, stray from the text. Their main inspiration, however, seems to have been not the films, but the Les Miserables musical.

Bruce-arthurs - That reading is right there in the text. Hugo states that Quasimodo is malicious and cruel; he later deliberately kills people. I was cheering him on, mind you, and Hugo also spends time suggesting that Quasimodo was shaped into evil by the perceptions and prejudices of those around him, so things are not entirely his fault, but he's definitely not a good guy. The movies have taken different approaches to this.

The Uneasy Mix of Prestige and a Cute Raccoon: Disney’s Pocahontas

DonS - Yes, I meant stylistically, although they also reportedly clashed while doing the film. Which can happen during creative projects even with very good friends.

ChristopherLBennett - John Smith's account, and why I question it, was covered in the last post. I love all of Glen Keane's work - one of my great regrets was not being able to afford one of his drawings of Tarzan when it was up for sale. (Googles idly.) And yes, still can't afford them! Oh well. At least I can afford the replicas in books!

The Uneasy Mix of Prestige and a Cute Raccoon: Disney’s Pocahontas

KYS - I'd agree that "Savages" is better than "Colors of the Wind."

MikePoteet - To be fair, the 1995 Pocahontas was the prestige film when the Hollywood Studios version of Fantasmic was developed. The real question is why Hollywood Studios hasn't yet reworked Fantasmic to focus on the more popular Frozen and Star Wars - but perhaps that's coming as part of revamping the entire park, which as of last weekend was visibly in progress there. 

Felicity Smoak: Arrow’s IT Tech Turned Badass Wheelchair User

Quick follow-up - I just realized that in my last comment, I was projecting a bit into Mr. Dennis's words - he was saying he wanted the best possible launch for this product, and he had just watched Felicity completely botch the rehearsal. So it wasn't just a matter of optics, but also his belief that Felicity, in her chair, couldn't do a perfect product launch. So he was saying that she was incapable AND it would look bad. Sorry; I haven't had much coffee this morning.

Keith - This will vary from patient to patient, but a number of doctors initially recommend manual wheelchairs for any number of reasons - they're lighter and easier to transport, they ensure that wheelchair users continue to get some cardiac workouts (my doctor's reasoning), and so on. Marc Guggenheim said that Felicity was using a manual wheelchair because it allowed her to get an upper body workout.

Over on Flash, Reverse-Flash was put into a powerchair last season. What I thought was great about that was that a later scene showed that at times, Reverse-Flash couldn't walk and could barely even move - the Speed-force for him was sorta like a chronic illness.  When he couldn't walk, he really needed a powerchair because he didn't have the physical strength to push a wheelchair. So that made sense. 

Felicity Smoak: Arrow’s IT Tech Turned Badass Wheelchair User

DB - I didn't object to that scene. I liked it. Sure, telling a wheelchair user who can't move her legs that everyone needs to put their best foot forward, and following that up with an observation that, basically, a wheelchair user like Felicity wouldn't look right for the presentation? Harsh.  But I also thought using that phrase was great, because, as Mr. Dennis clarified, he wasn't asking her to step aside because she was incapable, or because she'd just botched the rehearsal, but because the optics would look bad, which could impact Palmer Tech's stock price. And why would the optics look bad? In part because of phrases just like that one, which associate competence with the ability to walk - phrases we all, including me, use regularly. I thought this was a nice acknowledgement, both on the part of the show and Mr. Dennis, of the way wheelchair users can be perceived, and the way language shapes those perceptions.

And again, I don't expect or want people to police their language around me, but that's speaking for just me. 

 

 

ChristopherLBennett - Yeah. I noted at the end of the post that I didn't expect the wheelchair plot to last much longer because it's Arrow, where Oliver's "death" didn't last longer than one episode. I was braced for a magical cure, and sure enough, experimental chip in the very next episode. Oh, Arrow.  I guess this is also another step towards making Curtis Holt a full fledged member of Team Arrow?  Hopefully not as Diggle's replacement! I'm freaking out here, Arrow!  #TEAMDIGGLE #SAVEDIGGLE2016

Felicity Smoak: Arrow’s IT Tech Turned Badass Wheelchair User

AJ -  I think that needs an entirely separate post.  Arrow's been very good on some things, and made massive steps forward this season. Amazingly, Laurel hasn't been kidnapped even once this season, making me wonder what show I'm watching, and I also really liked the casual way Arrow introduced Curtis Holt's husband. But that doesn't quite make up for other issues, which could fill a post.

Katenepveu - Thanks for that link! 

MeredithP - Thanks. Still haven't heard back from this year's World Fantasy, but I haven't given up all hope yet. 

Felicity Smoak: Arrow’s IT Tech Turned Badass Wheelchair User

Dianne Miller - Yes, it's very frustrating to see television shows get very basic things wrong, one of the reasons I'm willing to give Arrow a bit of a break on that ramp - at least they recognized that the original design was inaccessible and needed a modification, instead of just showing us Felicity on the platform with no explanation about how she got on it, something I've seen all too often.

Werechull - That's virtually the definition of "Your mileage may vary." Speaking absolutely, clearly, and completely just for me and not for any other wheelchair user, no, I don't want people to monitor their speech around me. But I can say that when you start using a wheelchair, you start realizing just how many expressions in English and Spanish focus on walking and the assumption that everyone can walk. You also start realizing just how much of the human planet is built around that very assumption. I liked that Arrow challenged that assumption and showed the language that wheelchair users have to listen to.

Christopher Bennett and Anthony Pero - Sure, Arrow is always going to focus on Oliver's reactions to things, and that's fine. But I still felt that this was an important enough development for Felicity that we should have had the camera there for that moment. It's not the only time Arrow's failed to do this - I still regret that we never got to see Thea's reaction to Slade telling her that her biological father was Malcolm Merlyn, for instance. But I still wish Arrow had left out the flashbacks in that episode and given us that scene instead. 

I did like Felicity telling Oliver not to feel guilty about her injury, but that's because I also think the only thing Oliver really needs to feel guilty about and apologize to Felicity for is lying to her about his kid. 

afan - I was kinda hoping that Oliver had grown a bit, but then again, as Malcolm so aptly put it, Oliver is very handsome but not that bright.

 

When Historical Pirates Did PR: The Writings of Captain John Smith

KT -  Pocahontas' actual age isn't certain, but she was probably around 12 or 13 when she supposedly rescued Smith. She was kidnapped by the Jamestown colonists a few years after that, and married John Rolfe the following year. Later legends often age her up a bit, as did the Disney film.

When Historical Pirates Did PR: The Writings of Captain John Smith

Noblehunter - We'll get into this more next week, but apparently, no one at Disney had read the source material when they began to develop Pocahontas - they were just working with their memories of the legend of the beautiful princess who met the brave explorer. After looking at the source material, they did consult with other sources and Virginia historians, although not much of that got into the final film.

AeronaGreenjoy - Thanks!  And still more to come, though at least I think the rest are either in contemporary English or translated into contemporary English, and for the most part are just about fictional people, a few historical figures in Notre Dame de Paris aside. So they might not be as daunting. We'll see.

This is not Hamlet: Disney’s The Lion King

Lisamarie - The producers mention the Hamlet inspiration in the "Story Journey" and "Film Journey" features, which were included on the 2nd DVD disc released with the Platinum Edition in 2003. 

Admittedly, at other times Disney has claimed that The Lion King is a Disney original. It might just be whatever the Disney marketing team wants to focus on at the time.

Colomon - Although it's possible that Disney animators were influenced by Romeo and Juliet/West Side Story while making Pocohontas, and Disney was tossing around the idea of animating Romeo and Juliet before putting Pocahontas into production, the timing strongly suggests that the major inspiration for Pocahontas was Dances With Wolves.

I Could Show You the World, But I Won’t: Disney’s Aladdin

Home on the Range a) is a Disney original, b) did not have a large influence on Disney animation, and c) is not very good, so yes, we're skipping it. But although it's not the nails through eyeballs film, I'd still recommend skipping it and doing pretty much anything else with your life.

Russell H - I hope you're right! And maybe the impressions will even lead young viewers to seek out some of the older films/TV shows.

 

I Could Show You the World, But I Won’t: Disney’s Aladdin

Robin Williams had another film, Toys, coming out at about the same time, thus the restriction on Disney, which Disney then ignored because, well, they had a genie voiced by Robin Williams.

I Could Show You the World, But I Won’t: Disney’s Aladdin

I'm loving this guessing game! 

To clarify slightly, I find the film in question physically painful to watch. I don't have the same OW NAILS ARE GOING THROUGH MY EYEBALLS feelings when reading Tor.com comments. Usually :)  I am prepared for a small comment storm on The Lion King post, but mostly because that's a fairly popular film that I think most Tor.com readers have seen or heard of, unlike quite a lot of the source material stuff.  

 

 

 

 

Fairy Tale and the Other Realm as Social Commentary: “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp”

@AeronaGreenjoy - Glad you enjoyed the Narnia reread!

The Burton translation is....quite something, but even apart from the antiquated language, I found parts difficult to read.

Fairy Tale and the Other Realm as Social Commentary: “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp”

This guessing game is fun!

But yes, prior to this Read-Watch I generally tried to consider Disney animated films on their own merits, just because they always significantly deviate from the source material. Or in the case of Pocahontas, suddenly realize that just maybe the source material does not exactly suggest the sweeping romance that your corporate executives want to see in the film.

 

Fairy Tale and the Other Realm as Social Commentary: “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp”

Lisamarie - I think the comparative entertainment value depends on the source material. In some cases - 101 Dalmatians, Winnie-the-Pooh, Notre-Dame de Paris - I found the book a lot more entertaining. In other cases - The Little Mermaid, Basil of Baker Street, The Rescuers - I found the movie a lot more entertaining.  And then we have the movie coming up later in this Read-Watch which I find almost physically painful to watch, so in that case, any version of the source material is going to be more entertaining because it's not driving nails through my eyeballs.

AlanBrown - I'm mostly warning people off the Burton translation because of the offensive language. Having said that, if flowery language is your sort of thing, the Burton translation has a lot of that. Lang's translation might not be accurate, but it's an easy read.

A Return to the Glory Days: Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

Werechull - "The Morning Report" has far, far far far far far too many puns, and it's markedly less well animated than the rest of the film, but it's a bit less disruptive to the overall storyline than "Human Again," which manages to break the mood and the plot, so I don't feel the same need to warn off potential viewers.

Angiportus - That organ is in Belle's Enchanted Christmas, the sequel that doesn't really exist, no matter what Amazon.com and Disney might be trying to tell you.

Don S - At least one of the Disney DVD releases does not offer the option of seeing the film without "Human Again," although I think the most recent release does.

Strongdreams - Sorry, I think this is one of those rare cases where even Tim Curry can't save it.

Beastofman - For lunch, I honestly think most people are better off at one of the other Magic Kingdom restaurants - that place is loud. Granted, the other Magic Kingdom restaurants are also loud, but still. I haven't tried the dinner, though. And I kinda have to admit that I was tempted by one of those light up goblets....

Mutantalbinocrocodile - Thanks so much for this detailed discussion. Oh, and although in retrospect it's not clear, the six year old mentioned in the post isn't me, but a kid that I later watched the film with who had a lot of questions.

Saavik - Yeah, the quality of the songs went down significantly after Ashman's death - they're not all horrible, but only a few of them are really memorable. I think Mulan, in particular, suffered from a lack of decent songs.

You and I are going to be disagreeing on Tangled, I can see.

The biggest problem with Belle in terms of animation is that over the years, she's been animated by a number of people in different locations, and even in this film, she really didn't have a single, supervising animator - which means that her face and body keep changing. You can really see this if you compare shots of her in the wolf scene versus shots of her just seconds afterwards back in the Beast's castle - her hairstyle and face have changed completely, because she's drawn by two different people.  The other major characters had a single supervising animator who did a significant amount of the actual drawing work. That also means, as you say, that she's less interesting - because no one wanted to take too much of a chance on a character that would be drawn by someone else in five more frames. 

It gets much worse when you see her in other Disney features, as in House of Mouse, where her face looks almost distorted - but that's in part because there really isn't a good pattern for an artist to follow. She tends to be mostly recognizable either from the blue and white dress or the yellow ballgown.

Shawna Swendson - To be somewhat fair to the Beast, and to add to the reasons why I think the Enchantress is the real villain of the piece, none of the other villagers seem to be aware that he's even there, so the Beast really doesn't have a chance to fall in love with any of the other village women. I suppose he could have looked at some of them through his magic mirror, but I don't know if he could have fallen in love with any of them that way.  And all of the other women near him look like furniture, so I'm going to give him a pass on not falling in love with the feather duster maid.

I think Disney kept Belle beautiful partly as a nod to the two original French versions (where Beauty is beautiful), and partly because it's in the Disney tradition. The images released so far for Moana seem to suggest that Moana is going to be considerably better looking than pretty much everyone else in her upcoming film, for example. (Not trying to offend the Rock here!)

I will say that Katzenberg noticed the irony - a scene in Shrek is meant as a commentary on it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marriage Can Be Monstrous, or Wondrous: The Origins of “Beauty and the Beast”

Kelly L - Apuleius was certainly aware of several mystery cults, including Aphrodite and Adonis, but I don't know how much that knowledge influenced his version of the Cupid and Psyche story. His version does constantly emphasize that Psyche is just mortal, however, which is one reason why Venus is so furious - she doesn't think a mortal girl is good enough for her son, let alone good enough to worship, so it's very possible that a divine Psyche could have opened Persephone's box without a problem, even if doing so knocked the mortal Psyche out.

Lisamarie - Both French versions make a point of noting that Beauty loves reading. In the de Villanueve version, this is supposed to be one of many signs that Beauty is in fact the daughter of a king and a fairy queen and not "just" a merchant's daughter. In the Beaumont version, this is another one of Beauty's virtues, and something the story wants young readers to emulate.  (Read more, kids, and you too can get kidnapped by a beast and forced to spend months away from your family!)

Dadler - That might well be. And de Villanueve also uses the harpsichord to tell readers just how special and musically gifted Beauty is, so it also sorta serves a plot point. 

A Very Christmas Mickey: Mickey’s Christmas Carol and The Gift of the Magi

Werechull -  They're very hard to identify because a) it's a blink and you'll miss it moment, and b) they only appeared in a couple of early, pre World War II cartoon shorts, but those aren't cats. Those are two of the Three Little Wolves (nephews of the Big Bad Wolf), chased by Practical Pig with a gun. 

Lisamarie - Answering that question would require acknowledging the existence of that film, which I don't.

Saavik - I was planning on giving Daisy a pass for the turkey thing until the turkey showed up for Christmas dinner, ready to eat ham. At that point I got very disturbed.

SundriedRainbow - Whoops, sorry for leaving that reference in there - this post was originally planned for Christmas Eve, and when I checked it earlier this week, all I noticed was the Beauty and the Beast references, not the John Lasseter references.

Everyone - I'm certainly willing to agree that most of the Disney sequels never really existed, though - fair warning - I'll be referring to a few of them as we go on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Arrival of Computer Animation: The Rescuers Down Under

Narfna - I never once thought of "goanna" with this film. Just "monitor lizard"!

ubxs113 - No plans as of now to watch any of the Disney cartoon shows, although since many of the upcoming Disney films eventually had cartoon spinoff series, those will get mentioned.

Gummi Bears, of course, is important in this context, since it was Disney's first successful multi-episode cartoon series, and thus helped lead the way for the Disney Afternoon cartoon slot, which in turn gave Disney the idea to make cartoon series from future Disney films.

Brenda A - The next post will be looking at a couple other Mickey Mouse shorts.

I'm glad you brought that up, though, because The Prince and the Pauper was the last Disney cartoon short made without the CAPS process, so bundling the last of the traditional ink/paint short with the first of the CAPS films makes a certain amount of sense.

BJ - Yeah, the pacing is odd there - but this was definitely always intended as a Rescuers vehicle. I guess the storyboarders/animators figured that it would help if this time, the kid needing rescue had a more interesting story.

 

 

 

 

 

Disney’s Renaissance: The Little Mermaid

@Ayaramo - I'd love that as a fanwank - but all of the writing we see in the film, both underwater and on land, is in the Roman script.

@AeronaGreenjoy - Like pretty much all of the Disney direct to video sequels, the Ariel one is awful. Just skip it. 

I suspect Ariel will continue to be the only Disney princess who is also a mother - largely because she's one of the few where we see the actual wedding, not just a pre-wedding dance. The others are Cinderella and Tiana - and Tiana's focused on that restaurant. And to be fair, in general Disney animated films aren't particularly interested in showing their protagonists tackle parenting, with the obvious exception of One Hundred and One Dalmatians.

 

Production Changes: Disney’s Oliver and Company

Hercules made the cut - yes, most of that source material is vase paintings, but enough ancient writers wrote about Herakles/Hercules that there's plenty to write about. 

Production Changes: Disney’s Oliver and Company

Hmm. Tor ate my first response. Let’s try this again:

The original idea of the Disney Read-Watch was not so much to cover Disney history, but to compare/contrast the Disney films to their source material. Thus leaving off important Disney films like Fantasia, which had limited/no source material for most of the film; Dumbo, where the source material was, to put it mildly, obscure/difficult to find; The Lion King, which is a Disney original; and Pocahontas, where a non-fiction source exists, but it’s not clear that the film had much, if any, interest in that source.

I do agree that both The Lion King and Pocahontas are important films for Disney history. I’ll see if I can revisit The Lion King. With Pocahontas I’m less certain – crawling through all of A True Relation of Such Occurrences and Accidents of Noate As Hath Happened in Virginia and all six volumes of Generall Historie of Virginia is more than a bit daunting, especially since I have no reason to believe that anyone at Disney consulted either work. If this does jump back on the list, and that’s a big if, considering the problematic relationship of the film to the historical source material, it won’t be a complete reread.

With Mulan, the issue was finding reliable translations of the Chinese source material, which I did, so Mulan will be covered.

 

 

It’s Elementary, My Dear Mice: Basil of Baker Street

Gimpols1908 - This is the source material for The Great Mouse Detective,  yes. 

 

Lisamarie - Not to be overly spoilery, but yes, the two little girl mice are found all safe and sound. The book's definitely aimed at a younger audience, so it avoids anything too scary or violent.

A Demoralizing Disaster: Disney’s The Black Cauldron

Aeryl - True, and it does rather say something that Pocahontas (the only Native American in that group) and Mulan (the only Asian) also just happen to be the only two that are not princesses either by birth or marriage, right? Which is to say, I think Disney included them in the lineup for other reasons besides "Hey, not every Disney Princess needs to be an actual princess!"

Though I still think that was only part of it: while yes, Mulan is in many ways the antithesis of what the Disney Princess franchise primarily focuses on (sparkly dresses!) and while Pocahontas is in many ways a very problematic film, and the ways Disney continues to market Pocahontas and its characters is not necessarily all that much better, both films did considerably better at the box office than The Black Cauldron did, and continue to sell merchandise, the main focus of Disney Princesses.

Reiko - No, Mulan didn't become a princess - her love interest isn't a prince. He's a captain in the army and the son of a general, with a rather nasty implication that he only got his position through nepotism, but he's not royal.

Tiana did become a princess - that's even part of the plot. And then went straight into business for herself. You go, Tiana. YOU GO. 

A Demoralizing Disaster: Disney’s The Black Cauldron

Cythraul - I don't speak Welsh, so I can't speak to the pronunciation. 

Aeryl - We'll be going into the Disney Princess issue a lot more when we reach Mulan and The Princess and the Frog, but for right now I'll just note that both of those films did decently at the box office, unlike The Black Cauldron. Eilonwy and Kida were in much less financially successful films.

A Demoralizing Disaster: Disney’s The Black Cauldron

Gweilo - I've paid no attention to the new film Pan, so I can't speak to any whitewashing there, but Tiger Lily is Native American in the original Barrie play and book as well. Barrie specifically uses the word "redskins" (multiple times) and namedrops a few Native American tribes. That the Disney film managed to make the stereotypes Barrie uses in the play and book even worse is another problem, but they didn't make Tiger Lily Native American.

A Demoralizing Disaster: Disney’s The Black Cauldron

Everybody - Disney apparently still owns the film/television adaptation rights to the Prydain series, but I would be shocked if Disney agreed to another adaptation any time soon; this seems to be a film that sure, they've released to the public, but they are really, really hoping people will forget. I've been checking Disney Pin Stations since starting this Read-watch, and this is one of only a very, very few films where I couldn't find a single associated pin. It wasn't released on Netflix, although the films that flank it (The Rescuers, The Fox and the Hound, and The Great Mouse Detective) were. Apparently no one bothered to upload the cleaned up version (on the DVD) to Amazon/iTunes, so the digital transfers there are shockingly bad. (And it's just this film - the other digital transfers are fine.) And even the cleaned up version wasn't cleaned up all that much, although I guess that's good since you can see why Katzenberg flipped out.

Granted, Disney did bring back Ron Clements and John Musker after they headed the only Disney animated film that did worse than The Black Cauldron - but Clements and Musker also brought us The Little Mermaid, so they sort of had a bit of a cushion. Disney hasn't had any success with a Lloyd Alexander adaptation.

Also, I'd agree that Elsa and Anna will eventually join the Disney Princess franchise, possibly after their next movie, but they still aren't "official" Disney Princesses. 

And you are right - as I blogged this, I did forget Kida, who is a princess in a Disney film, but not an official Disney Princess. Like Disney, I tend to forget that Atlantis: The Lost Empire, even exists (although you can find pins for it!) I don't think she's going to be joining the Disney Princess lineup any time soon.

 

 

 

Forbidden Friendships: Disney’s The Fox and the Hound

AeronaGreenjoy - Yes, Paul Winchell voiced both Tigger and Boomer. John Fiedler, who voiced the porcupine and Piglet, was one of those Hollywood character actors who made brief appearances in all kinds of things; apart from Piglet, my guess would be that most people knew him from a recurring guest role on The Bob Newhart Show.  Both he and Newhart were also in The Rescuers.

John Bunnell - I was mostly trying to focus on what those three had done with/for Disney, which for Brad Bird is really The Incredibles and Ratatouille (and I guess Tomorrowlland, although that's not really animation.) In the case of Lasseter I had to immediately give up since that could and has easily filled a book, and he'll be coming up in a number of future posts.

Forbidden Friendships: Disney’s The Fox and the Hound

Lisamarie - It's definitely not one of the more memorable Disney films. My guess is that the lack of competition and even other recent films helped it at the box office. 

Brightbetween - I'm not entirely sure what's meant there by a Disney "style" of animation - most of the Disney films tend to have very different looks up until One Hundred and One Dalmatians; afterwards, xerography gave the next films a similar look up until The Great Mouse Detective and The Little Mermaid. But those first five films, except for Dumbo, did have a much bigger budget than any other animated film until Sleeping Beauty, and then until The Black Cauldron, and their animators had significantly more freedom to invent and do multiple things both with the animation and the camera. There's definitely a distinction in quality between Pinocchio and Fantasia on the one hand, and The Jungle Book on the other.

Hoopmanjh - The animation department just didn't have many animators, period, and it seems very possible that they were hoping to create the next Star Wars for Disney animation. We'll be looking into the disaster that resulted in the next post.

Shanna Swendson - It is sad when you can't remember a Pearl Bailey performance of any kind, but, yeah, nothing in this film is all that memorable. 

Well, I’m Traumatized: The Fox and the Hound

Lisamarie - The book totally caught me off guard, largely because I went into this Read-Watch expecting that the most depressing/hardest rereads in it would be Oliver Twist or Hunchback of Notre Dame, or possibly Bambi, and wow, was I wrong. Hunchback is a romantic comedy, comparatively speaking.

It's also one of the most puzzling choices Disney ever made - Pocahontas and Hunchback, also odd choices, were at least intended as prestige films, and both Pinocchio and Bambi were originally bestsellers. This - I really am not sure what Disney was thinking.

Braid Tug, Jen, Noblehunter - The film is not that much like the book.

ScottI won't try to stop you, but the book is really not much like the film.

Spy Mice: Margery Sharp’s The Rescuers

@AeronaGreenjoy Mice, like small kids, are relatively powerless?  Other animals kept as pets - cats, dogs, rats, ferrets - can bite/scratch back. The real question, I guess, is why we've never had an equivalent flood of stories featuring adorable talking hamsters and gerbils.

@Ellynne I had no problem with the idea of an imprisoned poet; the free verse stuff is all from the text.

@Jenny Islander Yeah, it's very possible that Miss Bianca's sense of general superiority also contributes to her decision not to end up with Bernard at the end of the story, although the major justification is "career."

 

A Bear of Very Little Brain But a Lot of Money: Disney’s The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Yep, Paul Winchell was the original 1980s Gargamel. And Baby Smurf. (Aside, Baby Smurf?  So glad I repressed this.) He was also Zymmi Gummi from The Gummy Bears (I remember this one being dreadful even by 1980s cartoon standards) and a couple of other minor characters here and there. 

Peter Cullen was also in The Smurfs AND The Gummy Bears, and as various characters in Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, along with, of course, DuckTales, Transformers, G.I. Joe, Rainbow Brite, Dungeons and Dragons, Alvin and the Chipmunks, the American version of Voltron: Defender of the Universe, and Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.  In recent years his job of "voice everything" seems to have been taken over by Jim Cummings, who currently voices Winnie the Pooh and Tigger.

 

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