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Rewatching Disney's Animated Classics

Discussion in 'Movies' started by benbess, May 1, 2019.

  1. Message #21 of 74 May 6, 2019
    Last edited: May 6, 2019
    benbess

    benbess Producer

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    And let's not forget the parodies by Looney Tunes of Fantasia and its conductor Leopold Stokowski, including this 1949 cartoon of Bugs Bunny as "Leopold". Here's a clip:



    There was also a 1943 cartoon called "A Corny Concerto" that's amusing.

    The real Leopold was still conducting (seemingly masterfully) at the age of 90 in 1972, here conducing the Bach Toccata and Fugue made even more famous by Fantasia:

     
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  2. KPmusmag

    KPmusmag Supporting Actor
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    Hey Josh - How was the sound when you saw the 35mm print? Was it multi-track?
     
  3. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    I think it was just a mono optical track of memory serves. It wasn’t a 1940 original print. I think they stated that it was likely from the 1960s but that the documentation was fuzzy on that point.
     
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  4. benbess

    benbess Producer

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    Since all of Disney's animated movies are going to be withdrawn soon from Netflix, I've been watching what's on Netflix before they vanish. One of the ones I some only a little of back in the day was the direct-to-video movie Kronk's New Groove, which came out in 2005, just about the time hand-drawn animation was going the way of the dinosaur at Disney. Anyway, this sequel to The Emperor's New Groove from the year 2000 was I think actually pretty good. The first direct-to-video sequels from Disney were maybe for Aladdin? Anyway, I tried to watch two of those back in the 1990s and they were dreadful, with poor quality animation, weak stories, and mostly cringe-worthy songs. But Kronk's New Groove had surprisingly detailed hand-drawn animation, some genuinely funny (for me) jokes, an interesting enough story, and some good music. I still haven't seen more than a couple of minutes of the Mulan II, Tarzan II, Notre Dame II, etc. movies. Are any of them even sort of ok in a direct-to-video way? I mean now that hand drawn animation from Disney has been gone for ten full years, I'm willing to maybe try watching a few more of these.

    Does anyone else halfway like Kronk's New Groove, or am I crazy?
     
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  5. Mysto

    Mysto Screenwriter

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    Do the two have to be mutually exclusive?:P
     
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  6. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    I liked the second sequel to Cinderella. Was it called A Matter of Time? I like the sequel to Lady and the Tramp, too.
     
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  7. richardburton84

    richardburton84 Stunt Coordinator

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    It’s been a long time since I’ve seen any of the Direct-to-Video sequels (some I have never seen l, period), though if I had to give any advice on these films based on vague memories, my advice would be to stay as far away from the Hunchback sequel as possible, it has terrible animation (possibly on par with the Aladdin sequels) and none of the emotion that made the original so good.
     
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  8. Mike2001

    Mike2001 Second Unit

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    I saw an original road-show presentation of Fantasia at LACMA back in the early 80's. They recreated the speaker setup for the multi-track sound and the original narration was present. It's long enough ago that I don't remember too many details, but I do remember being mighty impressed. I had the framed poster of that movie series on my wall for years, probably still have it around somewhere.
     
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  9. benbess

    benbess Producer

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    Well, I'm afraid I'm not always going in order with this, but....

    The animated Disney movie for me today was The Hunchback of Notre Dame, released in 1996. Although for me the songs for this one aren't always my favorites, the animation is really outstanding throughout—and sometimes it's stunning. This is the best animation since Pinocchio, I think, in terms of the details and care that they put into it. With a production budget of about $100 million dollars Hunchback was the most expensive animated ever made up to that point (although soon to be passed by Tarzan), and it certainly shows. The audio commentary with the directors is also informative and sometimes amusing. I'm watching it for the second time now with that on. Because I've watched this one less often any other Disney film from the 1990s, there are parts of this that I've almost felt like I was watching for the first time. The serious spirit of Victor Hugo's original novel is maintained, which I can appreciate more now even though at the time it came out I think somehow I wanted something lighter. Anyway, I recommend this for fans of 1st class Disney animation, since it has really beautiful and impressive character animation, effects animation, multi-plane stuff, etc. Strong voice actors in all the roles.

    Finally, given the recent fire at Notre-Dame de Paris, seeing this meticulous recreation of most of the details of this amazing cathedral in animation is impressive. The building becomes a character....
     
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  10. Message #30 of 74 May 27, 2019
    Last edited: May 27, 2019
    benbess

    benbess Producer

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    Even with the fantastic animation, and the powerful exploration of some serious ideas, my overall rating on The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a B+. We were so spoiled by the wonderfully witty songs from the Howard Ashman era of the Disney Renaissance that most of the songs after can't live up to that. But really the 1990s was a golden era for great animated films from Disney. My personal ratings on the Disney Renaissance films....

    The Little Mermaid: A
    Beauty and the Beast: A+
    Aladdin: A+
    The Lion King: A
    Pocahontas: A-
    The Hunchback of Notre Dame: B+
    Hercules: B+
    Mulan: A+
    Tarzan: A
    Fantasia 2000: A
    (I really like Fantasia 2000, and although I realize some put it in the post Renaissance era, to me it's the last Renaissance film.)

    It was really puzzling and traumatic how quickly Disney's hand-drawn animation fell, from towering success artistically and at the box office with Tarzan in 1999, to the end of almost all hand-drawn animation just five years later. I still like all of the post-Renaissance films, but I've seen them much less often than the others. My ratings are probably too generous, but since we aren't ever likely to have another hand-drawn animated movie from Disney I do appreciate that we have these....

    The Emperor's New Groove: B
    I still wish they'd stayed with the more serious Kingdom of the Sun film that they started with, but this one still has some good moments, good laughs, and good animation.

    Atlantis: The Lost Empire: B
    I'm still puzzled by this one. I'm not quite sure what to think about it. But it's a good adventure movie with some very nice animation. I haven't seen it for about ten years, and maybe more.

    Lilo and Stitch: B+
    This one is beautifully done, touching, and funny, and yet for some reason I don't have a big desire to rewatch it. The little Elvis scene is a bit annoying to me.

    Treasure Planet: A-
    What? Crazy. But amazing animation, including some that's among the best done by Disney. A colossal box office bomb that helped kill hand-drawn animation. Even though I really like this movie, which stays true to the spirit of the original novel even with the outer space setting, my blu-ray still remains sealed nine years after I got it. I need to crack this one open and try it again.

    Brother Bear: B
    I need to rewatch this one, since I barely remember it. But I don't own it on blu-ray, and so I may need to wait for Disney+ to launch for a rewatch.

    Home on the Range: B
    Ditto

    The Princess and the Frog: A-
    I need to rewatch this one too. My blu-ray remains sealed nine years after I got it. My daughter was traumatized by the death of the firefly character and cried on the couch after we got back from the theater in 2009. This one was a moderate hit, making it puzzling that after bringing back hand-drawn animation for this movie Disney killed it yet again.
     
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  11. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    Enjoyed reading your opinions, Ben, as always, and keep them coming. For me, I liked Mulan less than Hercules, for example, or The Emperor's New Groove (but not much less). I reviewed most of these when they were released on Blu-ray, so folks can search to see what I thought in detail. I was very sad that Hunchback did not find favor with the moviegoing public. I really liked it a lot.

    But the bottom line is that they all offer various degrees of real pleasure.
     
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  12. Message #32 of 74 May 27, 2019
    Last edited: May 27, 2019
    benbess

    benbess Producer

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    Here's Matt Hough's review of The Hunchback of Notre Dame....

    https://www.hometheaterforum.com/community/threads/the-hunchback-of-notre-dame-2-movie-collection-blu-ray-review.321830/#post-3933543

    "....Never will you see an animated movie with more intricate animation in it. Virtually every person in the foreground and background shows movement. Confetti that flies through the air from all directions lands visibly on the ground and piles up, and blistering snow does likewise. In fact, so real is the animation throughout that at times one forgets he’s watching an animated film. Aerial views of Paris astound, and Quasimodo’s journeys through the labyrinthine bell towers surpass the bell tower finale of The Great Mouse Detective. Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz who had won dual Oscars for song and score for their last venture together Pocahontas deliver a quasi-operetta score here, and while none of the songs took on a life outside the movie, they’re stupendously used to advance plot (“The Bells of Notre Dame” gets exposition out of the way brilliantly to start the movie)...."

    Well said!++

    (PS I am actually teaching a summer school class on Animated Film that starts tomorrow. And so for prep I've been buying up books and blu-rays. In the unlikely event anyone wants to see what I looked like in a tie c. 5 years ago....https://louisville.edu/art/faculty/benjamin-hufbauer-ph.d. Anyway, we'll be watching parts of Snow White and talking about Disney's multi-plane set up, character animation, and in-betweeners etc. in the first class. But the first full movie we'll be watching and analyzing starting in the second class is Pinocchio. And Hunchback, as mentioned, is maybe the first Disney movie since the 1940s to have animation that competes with that early Disney era in terms of detail.)
     
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  13. benbess

    benbess Producer

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    It's silly, I suppose, but the liberties Disney took with the Hercules story bothered me a bit. Over in the Ready Player One thread Josh is still unhappy with how Spielberg and his writers altered the source material there. Since I haven't read the Ready Player One novel that doesn't bother me, but somehow with Hercules it does sometimes.

    Mulan takes liberties as well, of course, but to me it's almost like an animated movie done by David Lean in terms of its grandeur and spectacle. Plus it's a feminist film in a field that for decades had some issues in that area. Imho Mulan's songs are also witty, emotional, and wonderful. There are many aspects of Chinese culture that Mulan gets right—the importance of ancestors, the tea ceremony, family honor, and even an homage to the style of Chinese painting. I have a colleague from China who absolutely loves Mulan for these reasons.

    In terms of character animation, I'd like to mention a book I've just discovered by animator Andreas Deja, who, among other things, was the brilliant chief animator for Jafar on Aladdin. Amazing animation for Jafar in Aladdin!! I can't say enough. But Deja's book is called, "The Nine Old Men: Lessons, Techniques, and Inspiration from Disney's Great Animators." I've just started it, but it seems like a good book from someone who is a giant himself in animation.
     
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  14. benbess

    benbess Producer

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    A good short video on the art of "In-Betweening" in animation....

     
  15. Sam Favate

    Sam Favate Lead Actor

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    I always liked Hunchback. I thought it was the best of their latter 90s films, and I'd actually put it up there with Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. I was disappointed it didn't get the respect it deserves. I think part of it was Disney fatigue. Disney had a major summer animated release every year at that point for several years.
     
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  16. benbess

    benbess Producer

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    The opening is a good example of the amazing animation found throughout Hunchback. Notice how the eyes of a sculpture open in the lightning at a key moment.

     
  17. Mike2001

    Mike2001 Second Unit

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    I love the Hunchback of Notre Dame. For me, the moment where Esmeralda helps Quasimodo on the turntable is one of the most powerful in the whole Disney animation canon. But the movie had definite tone shift problems. I wish the animators had just made an adult animation tale and left out the flipping gargoyles.
     
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  18. benbess

    benbess Producer

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    Although they are sometimes a bit much, imho the gargoyles become poignant as we realize that they are all in Quasi's mind. His back has a hunch, and his mind has almost some kind of multiple personality syndrome—or maybe it's just a really vivid imagination.
     
  19. Traveling Matt

    Traveling Matt Supporting Actor

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    I always find it interesting to see the Renaissance, and those who discuss it, consider the entire string of 90s films. I suppose because they're all hand-drawn and from the same 10-year period? I don't know. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but for me it ended with Lion King. Certainly the Ashman films are in their own category, with Lion King running on enough fumes to put it over.

    So I guess I'd place them like so. Real Renaissance: The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin. Each by themselves: The Lion King, Pocahontas. And the rest: Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Mulan, Tarzan.

    Ranking all of them is tough since I'm less familiar with The Rest, but of the trilogy the best one, critically and artistically, is certainly Beauty and the Beast. I'm partial to Mermaid because that was the first one, and to this day maintains a homemade feel the others don't have (I remember seeing Beast in the theater and thinking, as soon as the opening number began, that Disney had already "corporatized" the fairytale revival process. Even though I was probably too young to actually use that word). I also know many are partial to Aladdin. But Beast was really the pinnacle.
     
  20. RobertR

    RobertR Executive Producer

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    I've been watching some of the classic Betty Boop cartoons. Fluid animation, and some marvelous 3D effects.
     

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