Post #8: The Accuracy of Disney Movies

3 Apr

One of the topics that became heavily debated in the comment section of my Hercules post was the historical accuracy of Disney movies. It seemed like a lot of people understood why the movies strayed from their source material so much, but there was also the argument against such wide deviations.

For me, I understand both sides of the arguments, yet I’m of the theory that the movies don’t have to be word for word to the original source material. We have to remember, these movies are still intended for a children’s audience, and a lot of the source material is rather dark, and not exactly kid friendly. 

These movies try to convey a simple moral for children, as opposed to the set of complex ideas and statements like full length novels that some movies are based off of try to convey. Even the Grimm Fairy Tales, which many of the Disney films are based off of, give a moral through dark means. These Disney movies try to convey those same messages, but do it in a much more bright, colorful, kid friendly way.

Even further than that, as I got older, the Disney movies prompted me to look up these stories and novels on my own, and read the originals and make my own assumptions on them. I never would have read The Fox and the Hound, for instance, but because I loved the movie so much, I looked up the book and read it. The same goes for a host of Grimm Fairy Tales, like Snow White and The Little Mermaid.

Now, the one movie that I have some issue with the blatant lack of reality is Pocahontas, and that’s only because these were real life people who’s story was changed. Even there, I understand why things were done as they were, but just the thought of blatantly changing history didn’t sit as well with me.

So overall, I am ok with Disney’s deviations from their source material, purely because the movies still convey the same morals and actually expose these great stories to a wider, younger audience. Of course, that’s just my opinion. What do you guys think?

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5 Responses to “Post #8: The Accuracy of Disney Movies”

  1. andrewmclarty91 April 3, 2012 at 6:48 pm #

    I agree with everything you have said here including Pocahontas. But I always like to point out that The Hunchback of Notre Dame is based off a true story much like Pocahontas. The story is actually really grim and pretty messed up, but through reinterpretation it becomes more of a failed love story. The only problem i have with that reinterpretation is that it reinforces the idea that only the pretty guy will get the girl…

  2. thataintallfolks April 9, 2012 at 4:37 am #

    When I was growing up, I remember wanting one of my parents to tell me a story before bedtime. That is the basic root of the Disney films: a good story. I think as long as such story doesn’t vividly leave a mark on a young child’s belief, i.e. Hitler was the good guy in World War II, it is acceptable to produce and watch. I don’t see many members of academia quoting Hercules or Pocahontas in a paper because even if the stories were remotely accurate, they are not the target audience.

    • stayvictorious April 24, 2012 at 4:19 am #

      My latest blog post was on the topic of historical accuracy in Pocahontas as well. I think that when making a film based on history, filmmakers are presented with two options. Either you provide an engaging story, or you provide a feature length history lesson. Many times an accurate depiction of history can be crafted into an entertaining story, but in the situation of animated films such as Pocahontas, the filmmakers are forced to cater to their target audience: children. Dumbing down the story for children to process provides a film that will be successful in the box office, and after all, the entire business is based on money.

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