Archive | February, 2012

Post #4: Revisiting Hunchback of Notre Dame

22 Feb

I, like many other people, have rewatched just about every Disney movie again since I’ve gotten older. I’m always amazed at how different my reactions to the movies become as I get older. Whether I appreciate aspects of it more or just understand aspects of it more, each movie is a different experience every time I watch it. There is no movie that this is more true for than Hunchback of Notre Dame.

When I was younger, I watched Hunchback, but it never really stuck. I always kind of grouped it as the black sheep of the Disney Renaissance: that one movie that just wasn’t as good. Whenever people even talk about their favorite Disney movies, Hunchback is far from the forefront of the conversation, and rarely is even mentioned at all.

Well, then I watched it again, and I have to admit, I was completely blown away.

From the first song, The Bell of Notre Dame, I realized that clearly I had overlooked this movie. The song is beautifully constructed, giving all of the background information and exposition in an interesting and exciting way, all while being masterfully sung by Clopin, the jester and our narrator through the tale (sidenote: The lyric “Who is the monster and who is the man?” gives me goosebumps every time).

As we moved on, I began to appreciate the intricacies of the story and the characters, from the evil villain Claude Frollo, torn between his religion and his lust, to the lovable hero Quasi Modo, a hunchback restricted to his belltower and possibly the first Disney hero to not get the girl in the end.

I’ll admit, I enjoyed every minute of this movie now that I’m older, and I guess my question becomes, why?

Part of it is that I understand more of it now, as there were some adult themes in this movie. Just look at the song “Hellfire,” sung by Frollo. Not only is the song’s name already a bit strong by Disney standards, just listening to the lyrics is incredible. He is singing on his lust for Esmerelda, and asking God for his forgiveness. This is heavy stuff! Just watch the video, it’s intense. I didn’t even realize that this was a subplot until I watched it again years later.

When compared to other classic Disney movies, yeah, the themes in Hunchback are intense. There’s religion, lust, racism, and violence, all while neatly wrapped around a very Disney-esque theme: Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. If you have the chance, give this movie another look through, because you wont be disappointed.

What do you guys think of Hunchback, and are there any other movies that you may not have liked when you were little that you love now?

 

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Post #3: Looking at the Disney Eras

13 Feb
Disney movies come in all sorts of types, and the easiest way to break down the type of Disney movie you are watching is through the various eras and sub-eras of Disney movies, that stretch from the very beginning in 1937 all the way to today.
We start with the Golden Era, which is all your classic movies, including Snow White, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Peter Pan. These were traditionally animated, hand drawn in cells, and tended to be big budget productions.
Within the Golden Era, there was the Wartime Era. This was during WWII when many Disney animators were participating in the war effort, leading to many compilation films, such as Make Mine Music, Fun and Fancy Free, Saludos Amigos, and Three Caballeros.
Then there was the Silver Era, which was when Walt and the Disney corporation was using cheaper methods to make movies, such as 101 Dalmatians, Jungle Book, and the Aristocats.
What becomes tough is the next era, which some argue is part of the Silver Era, but others argue is a bit more of the Transitional Era, as it was just after Walt Disney died. This time period had a lot of non-musical, unsuccessful films, but the ones that still live on to an extent are Robin Hood, the Rescuers, and Oliver and Company, which was a return to the musical and set the stage for the next era of Disney films.
Next was the Disney Renaissance, which was the most successful point in Disney theatrical releases, both economically and critically. This time period started with The Little Mermaid in 1989, and included such classics as Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Mulan, Lion King, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Pocahontas, Hercules, and ended with Tarzan in 1999.
The period after that has not exactly been defined yet, so most people just call it the “Modern Age” for now. Again, a number of less than successful releases, but notable ones were Fantasia 2000, Lilo and Stitch, the Princess and the Frog, and Tangled.
Personally, my favorite era of Disney movies the Renaissance. Part of it is because it was going on during the time I woke up, but part of it is because I just feel it was the perfect blend of impressive animation, fun characters, strong storylines, and spectacular music.
But hey, that’s just my opinion, how about yours?

My Comments (UPDATED 3/27)

13 Feb

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Post #2: What Makes People Love Aladdin?

6 Feb

With this year’s homecoming theme being Disney, me and a few of my friends went to the JC cinema to watch my favorite Disney movie, and honestly one of my favorite movies in general, Aladdin.

This was the first time I watched Aladdin in a theater setting, and I found it interesting hearing and seeing the reactions of people. Between the laughter and everyone singing songs, I just found it incredible how much this movie still affects people even after all of these years.

But I began to question, why? Why do people love Aladdin, and honestly why do they love the Disney Renaissance movies so much more than the more modern Disney movies.

Is it the plot? Admittedly, it’s pretty simple. Guy meets girl. Guy falls in love with girl. Guy makes himself something he’s not to get girl. Guy sees errors of his ways and gets the girl in the end.

Is it the music? Let’s be honest, the music is this movie, as with others during this period in Disney’s history, is absolutely fantastic, and this definitely has a huge role in the movie’s popularity. I dare you to watch “A Whole New World” and not start singing as loud as you can. But here’s the thing. Take Tangled for instance. I loved the music in that one, and “I See the Light” was one of the best Disney songs in years. Yet people still rank Aladdin over Tangled.

What about the animation? I thought that the animation was crisp and just easy to watch, and it was traditional, which opens up a whole other debate as to what’s better: traditional animation or computer animation.

Characters? Each character in Aladdin is colorful and memorable. They are unique and lovable, and you actually feel a deep connection with these characters after only 77 minutes, a true testament to Disney’s ability to make you tap into you emotions.

My honest opinion is that it’s a combination of all these things with a touch of nostalgia. I grew up with this movie, and when I watch it, all of my boyhood memories come back, and I feel like this is common among people. I know that for as long as I live I’ll love Aladdin and show it to my kids and we’ll see how they react. Will they love the movie as much as me, or will they have those same feelings for the Disney movies of their generation.

Only time will tell.