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Rewatching Disney's Animated Classics

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

  1. Message #41 of 74 May 27, 2019
    Last edited: May 27, 2019
    benbess

    benbess Producer

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    For me, a case can be made that the Renaissance actually begins in 1988, with Who Framed Roger Rabbit. I know the live action/animation combination puts it in a different category, but....Anyway, I always wondered why they didn't make a sequel of that huge hit. It was a troubled production that ended up with a for-the-time eye-popping budget of $70 million, but it was recognized at the time and remains I think a classic. A few screenplays over the years have apparently been written for a potential Roger Rabbit sequel, and one that finally satisfied Robert Zemeckis was seemingly sent to Disney a year or so ago. But Disney just doesn't seem to be interested.

    https://www.slashfilm.com/roger-rabbit-sequel-update/
     
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  2. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    At the time I saw it, I don't think I ever enjoyed a movie any more than I enjoyed Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Hilarious, scary, ingenious, and mind-blowing visuals: it was and remains a marvel!
     
  3. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    Always looked forward to Andreas' comments in the documentaries on these classic films when they came to disc. He was always intelligent and very thoughtful in what he was saying about classic animation and what they were doing in more modern times to honor and build on what came before.
     
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  4. holtge

    holtge Screenwriter

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    Agree with both of you wholeheartedly! Andreas Deja is certainly right up there with Disney's Nine Old Men in terms of the legacies they left behind. Another of my personal favorites from this era is Glen Keane, chief animator for Tarzan.
     
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  5. Message #45 of 74 May 27, 2019
    Last edited: May 27, 2019
    benbess

    benbess Producer

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    I'm now watching the big bonus feature on the Hunchback blu-ray, which is Hunchback of Notre Dame II. Although most of the original voice talents return, the animation is only so-so at best. This is my first time watching it, and I agree with Matt Hough's review....

    "The Hunchback of Notre Dame II – 2.5/5 When scheming and dishonest magician Sarousch (Michael McKean) arrives in Paris with his lovely assistant Madellaine (Jennifer Love Hewitt) by his side, his primary goal is to steal the very valuable bell La Fidel from Notre Dame. So, he sends Madellaine to distract bell ringer Quasimodo (Tom Hulce) so he and his henchmen can take it. The lovesick Quasi falls madly for Madellaine, and while she’s initially repulsed by his looks, she grows to know his kind heart and spirit. But she can’t bring herself to confess what the magician is up to, and when Quasi’s pal Zephyr (Haley Joel Osment), the son of Esmeralda (Demi Moore) and Phoebus (Kevin Kline), gets taken hostage by the greedy Sariousch so he can escape after lifting the bell, Quasi feels doubly betrayed by his love.Don’t make the mistake of watching this sequel immediately after watching the original movie since the animation is crude and garish compared to the magnificent original. The five songs (mostly written by Walter Edgar Kennon) that have been inserted to pad the running time to barely an hour (plus about six minutes of closing credits) don’t do much for the story in the way that the songs served in the first film. It’s great to have the main cast return to voice their characters again (Jane Withers takes over Laverne after the death of Mary Wickes; she had added some lines to the original already) even if the story they’re saddled with isn’t worthy of their talents. And Jennifer Love Hewitt, Michael McKean, and Haley Joel Osment all do first-rate voice work with the new characters (McKean especially gets into his plumy, dastardly character), but the slight story just isn’t very exciting or especially satisfying even if a happy ending for all is inevitably achieved."

    Even compared to other Disney direct-to-video efforts the animation seems like a letdown. But since the desire for new hand-drawn Disney animated movies is still with me ten years after they died, I guess desperation is driving me to watch some of these. The Emperor's new groove sequel was definitely better....
     
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  6. benbess

    benbess Producer

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    For our esteemed reviewer Matt H., Bambi seems to be a favorite among the first five of Disney's animated classics....

    "Of the Disney Big Five (the first five animated features Disney produced beginning with Snow White), Bambi is its supreme masterpiece. It’s a film which combines with utmost surety and finesse the amalgamation of story, song, and characterization that made it, and continue to make it, one of the most beautiful, elegant, and memorable movies in the history of animation and of movies in general. There isn’t a moment of the film that one would wish different, and from the voice actors to the songs which work so in synch with the story, the movie is simply magical with nary a misstep. Bambi is perfection."

    https://www.hometheaterforum.com/bambi-signature-collection-blu-ray-review/

    I hesitate to say that although I really like Bambi it isn't my favorite of the Big Five. It's perhaps silly to give my personal ranking for these beautiful movies, each of which is wonderful in a different way, but here goes.

    1. Pinocchio
    2. Fantasia (with the original Deems Taylor voice! The new voice is almost "unwatchable/unlistenable" for me.)
    3. Dumbo
    4. Bambi
    5. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

    Bambi has magnificent animation, but I find the stories for Pinocchio and Dumbo more compelling. The plot point that traumatized generations in Bambi is also a little difficult for me, although it is rather realistic in its own way. And we can say that there seems to have been influence on The Lion King from Bambi across the decades. My mixed feelings about Bambi have held me back from buying the blu-ray, but maybe now that I'm a member of the Disney Movie Club I'll finally get it.
     
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  7. benbess

    benbess Producer

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    Steamboat Willie from 1928. Still funny!

     
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  8. benbess

    benbess Producer

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    Disney has also released on their official youtube channel The Skeleton Dance....

     
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  9. Nick*Z

    Nick*Z Screenwriter

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    Roger Rabbit was a milestone in its day and still continues to inspire on every level - a great story, intricately combined live/action and animation, wonderful performances by Chris Lloyd and Bob Hoskins, and Jessica - oh wow! Disney's renaissance in hand-drawn animation was short-lived. Little Mermaid was a joy, but really veered into the overly simplified animation style of a Saturday morning Disney Channel cartoon. For me, it relied on its superb score and evocative character voices to sell it to the public. It works. But reexamining the animation again, it really is a stream-lined version of what Walt's nine old men could have achieved blindfolded and with one arm tied behind their backs. There will never be another Ollie Johnston or Frank Thomas or superb draftsman like Marc Davis. His Maleficent is still one of the finest creations EVER in a Disney movie.

    For me Disney's second renaissance began with Beauty and the Beast and continued right on through to Hunchback - likely the most intricately achieved of the lot. It's visuals are arresting, even if the finished film is, as others have pointed out, uneven in spots. I love Hercules for its irreverent take on Greek mythology - jazz-warbling muses. Zero to Hero throws everything but the kitchen sink at the screen, creating a mockery of commercializing heroism. Hercu-lade and Air Herc' sneakers, the Hercules Store...hilarious. Who put the 'glad' in gladiator - indeed! Everything after this was just a slow, sad decline, I think partly brought on by the fact that all of the greatest fairy tales had already been told by the company. Okay, one could argue, they might have at least taken a stab at Hansel and Gretel, or, The Princess and the Pea.

    And ironically, the studio could not make the successful deviation to 'other' children's books the way it had done in the mid-50's with Dumbo, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp and, of course 101 Dalmatians and The Jungle Book. Instead, they invested way too much on Treasure Planet, which became a sort of Nautilus meets Treasure Island hybrid that just didn't have the staying power to stick. I know many here love the 'sequels' to all of the aforementioned renaissance movies. I just never felt they did anything but drag out the legacy of the originals, with far less quality animation applied. Personal opinion, of course.
     
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  10. benbess

    benbess Producer

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    The Little Mermaid's animation is good imho, but you have a point that it lacks the amazing details of the great Disney animated movies from before and after.
     
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  11. Nick*Z

    Nick*Z Screenwriter

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    Agreed. I never said it wasn't good. But in hindsight it doesn't represent the top-tier work done before or after it. In fact, it re-purposes the kiss between Arial and the Prince several times - same, animation, different costuming, which is what Hanna-Barbera used to do for their Saturday morning cartoons. Cost-cutting measure for which Walt - in his prime - never would have stood for.
     
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  12. benbess

    benbess Producer

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    Even in 1989 in the theaters I could tell that parts of Little Mermaid just weren't up to the standards of the Disney animated classics of the past. There were parts that were well done, I think esp. some parts with Ursula, but others, as you say....In 1989 I remember thinking that never again will we have animation as fine as we had from 1937 to 1967. And yet, starting with Beauty and the Beast great animation started to come back. But having recently re-watched Aladdin from 1992, there are still some elements even in that movie that are well done but...I'm not sure how to say it, somewhat simplified at times, esp. for the minor and background characters.
     
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  13. Nick*Z

    Nick*Z Screenwriter

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    Disney's animation has never 'come back' fully from those glory days under Walt's tutelage. If you stop to examine the Disney style under Walt, you quickly realize that every animated feature made in that period looks absolutely nothing like the others. Snow White's aesthetic is nothing like Sleeping Beauty's, or Lady and The Tramp, or Pinocchio, or Fantasia or Bambi, etc. - the animators always pushing themselves to achieve something greater, or, at the very least, something different, with each subsequent offering. Even the 'cost-cutting features, like Dumbo, or Cinderella, had finesse in their depiction of human mannerisms and that is largely due to Marc Davis' expertise as a superb draftsman. Look at the way the human figures move in these movies and you'll notice a fluidity that just isn't on tap in the renaissance movies. I love Beauty and the Beast, but even there, the human figures are prone to grand gesturing that is 'cartoony' rather than lifelike.

    Observe, if you will, the absolute - and seemingly effortless - grace of Sleeping Beauty's Briar Rose in her pas deux with the prince in the forest, or Cinderella's transformation sequence; the movement in the hands, the subtle emotions expressed in the character's eyes and face. None of the renaissance heroines have half as much. The more leisure pacing of the Disney classics allowed for the artists to explore and plum the depth of human movement and emotions to the nth degree.

    The quicker pace and chop-shop editing of the renaissance pics doesn't allow for this - and, on the flip side, is a rather deliberate way to cut corners, expedite the process of hand-drawn animation, so that the studio could - for a time - meet its quota of releasing at least one animated movie per year. Walt never allowed quality to suffer. Sleeping Beauty - 6 years of gestation, nearly 3 in the actual making. The proof is in the final result for all to see. Some 60 years later, it remains one of the finest animated movies ever made.

    I find it ironic that Don Bluth, after leaving Disney, made 2 of the better animated features in the latter half of the 20th century, Anastasia and Titan A.E. Look at the quality of animation in either of these and then compare it to the Disney features that came out in these same years. Bluth beat the pants off of Disney with these beautifully conceived works of animated art, particularly with Anastasia which features some of the finest hand-drawn animation in decades and baffling crowd scenes for the musical numbers. Regrettably, his reign was brief as Fox undercut him.
     
  14. Sam Favate

    Sam Favate Lead Actor

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    When I saw B&B in '91, I thought the animation looked amazing, but when the film got to that (admittedly extraordinary) scene in the ballroom that was done with computer graphics, I knew we were never again going to see the kind of animation we had with Snow White, Cinderella, Pinocchio, etc. The same goes for the computer-assisted animation in Aladdin, and other films. Which is not to say that it's not good. New tools in the animation process are a good thing, but it was a bit sad that the kind of hand-drawn stuff from the golden age would never be back.
     
  15. richardburton84

    richardburton84 Stunt Coordinator

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    I would add Secret of Nimh to those Bluth films as the animation in that film (which I personally consider Bluth’s magnum opus) easily outdoes a lot of the animation Disney was putting out during the “Dark Days.”
     
  16. benbess

    benbess Producer

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    All true!++

    But in the wonderful Sleeping Beauty, the almost static crowd scenes in the audience room can be contrasted with the moving crowd scenes in Hunchback of Notre Dame. That's an example where cgi helped imho.
     
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  17. benbess

    benbess Producer

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    Even before I joined the Disney Movie Club a few days ago, I had started filling in some of the gaps in my collection of hand-drawn animated films from Disney. Going chronologically, here are the ones I currently own or will get in the next week or so, as well as the ones I'm missing....

    Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
    Pinocchio
    Fantasia/Fantasia2000
    Dumbo
    (missing Bambi. Need to fix that. Is Bambi II worth it?)
    Saludos Amigos/The Three Caballeros
    Fun and Fancy Free/Ichabod and Mr. Toad
    (Missing Cinderella. Should I get II and III while I'm at it?)
    (Missing Alice in Wonderland.)
    (Missing Peter Pan.)
    Lady and the Tramp
    Sleeping Beauty
    101 Dalmatians
    (Missing Sword in the Stone. Haven't cared much for this one.)
    The Jungle Book
    (not sure I'm interested in the ones from 1970-1985. Maybe The Black Cauldron?.)
    The Little Mermaid
    Beauty and the Beast
    Aladdin
    The Lion King
    Pocahontas/II
    Hunchback/II
    (Missing Hercules. I do like that one.)
    Mulan
    Tarzan
    Emperor's New Groove/Kronk
    (Missing Atlantis, Lilo, Brother Bear)
    Treasure Planet
    Home on the Range
    The Princess and the Frog
     
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  18. benbess

    benbess Producer

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    Thinking about Nick Z's magic moments in Disney movies, I was thinking back to the ones in Snow White that I like best, and some of them are: Anything with the Queen/Witch, Snow White fleeing into the forest, and the Dwarfs when they are in that mine singing.
     
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  19. Nick*Z

    Nick*Z Screenwriter

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    Sleeping Beauty's fluid camera movement and the majesty of the artwork impresses, despite its static 'crowd' scenes. Conversely, Hunchback's CGI generated crowds are more kinetic in their energy but look closely and you'll find a lot of simplified renderings in the background, obscured by the heavy camera pans, sweeps and dips, deliberately so, so as to obscure the fact the art just isn't as intricate as you may think at first. It works because of the camera movement primarily, with artwork an afterthought. Sleeping Beauty's artwork is paramount. The camera work is in service to its opulence, not the other way around. But hey, I love Hunchback too and it is, by far, the most intricate of the renaissance pictures. Very nicely done. Different pictures for different times. But quality artwork is timeless.
     
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  20. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    Bambi II and Cinderella III are not bad. I also think Lady and the Tramp II is worth seeing.
     
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