Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Top Films: Disney Classics

Some common misconceptions: animation is a genre, animation is for kids, and traditional animation is dead.
Somewhere around number 19 on the list of top films, Disney makes an appearance. No one film can be singled out. It is true that Disney animation has lost some of its ability to deliver magic since Walt died. It seems they mistook the secret of their success to lie solely in the quality of their craft and forgot the vital element of story. When Computer animation came along and Pixar began to surpass Disney, they again thought that the mere medium was responsible and panicked.
The real secret to Disney success was a marriage between the best artist in the medium and the best storytellers in Hollywood. Beauty and the Beast remains the only animated film to ever be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. The music, especially that of the Sherman brothers in The Jungle Book and other movies, is always top notch. The number of technical advances and achievements has changed film consistently. One Hundred and One Dalmatians introduced Xerox technology into animation and for a period, perhaps Disney’s richest, it dictated a distinct look to the films.
Perhaps one of the most creative book to film adaptations ever, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, managed to stay incredibly faithful to the original stories, but also managed to be self-referential. This is similar to the book itself that made no effort to hide the fact that it was merely a collection of imaginary stories that the author told his child. Disney manages this by having one character, which is not in the book, actually say: “I’m not in the book!” Also, the omniscient narrator becomes involved in the action and even reveals the fact that the action is taking place, literally, in the illustrations of a book! Genius.

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