Joined: 09 May 2005
You know, I don't think there are many of us who can claim we haven't watched at least one Walt Disney animated feature in our lives. And I bet there aren't many who'd say they didn't really, really enjoy it....... although they may not all care to admit it to their mates down the pub.
Once upon a time, long before the puerile humour of "Duckman," "Beavis & Butthead" and "South Park" turned the cutsie-wootsie world of cartoons on its head and shocked the pants off lots of preachers, teachers and politicians, kids would sit quietly and contentedly in cinemas across the land. Transfixed, they'd gaze up at the screen at some gooey but wholesome Toon brought to you courtesy of Uncle Walt.
Ahh, yes, what an innocent age that was, and one sadly missed, perhaps....
Like countless other children, I grew up on a super-high sucrose diet of Disney, and I don't think it's done me any harm. When I was a young girl, we weren't aware there were any other film studios producing animated features. It seemed Disney was the only one. I remember being taken to the cinema to see "The Jungle Book" (1967), "The Aristocats" (1970) and "Robin Hood" (1973) soon after they were released. Ah, Robin Hood....What a marvellous, succulent performance from Peter Ustinov as Prince John - I can hear that whining voice of his now. As for "The Aristocats,"...... who could forget that thrilling, frenzied scene with the feline jazz band - I nearly passed out with excitement when I first saw them crash, floor by floor, down through a crumbling apartment block while singing "Ev'rybody Wants To Be A Cat."
Even at a tender age I can remember how impressed I was by Disney's animations. I loved the "realness" of them. Seeing those films as a child made me want to learn how cartoons were made. In those days, I wanted to be an artist working for Disney, too.
The last Disney animated feature I went to see in the cinema was "The Lion King," in 1994. It was a far cry from the Disney Toons of my youth and although the film proved to be a box-office success I watched it with a sinking feeling. I hope that doesn't sound too melodramatic. It's just it made me feel that Walt Disney Productions had reached its peak - at least in conventional cel-drawn animation - and that standards had started to slip.
It's my opinion that Disney can no longer claim its cel-drawn animations to be superior to those of other Toon movie producers such as Warner Brothers or DreamWorks. This is because it no longer creates the high-style cel-drawn animation once associated with the studios. Something is definitely lacking somewhere - the drawings now look simplified and you get the distinct impression corners are being cut. Instead of each animated film being a labour of love like it once was, it's as if everybody involved in production at Disney today is in a tearing hurry to get the job finished so that they can start on the next project.
But things aren't all doom and gloom..... Thanks to Disney's forays into computer drawn animation, hugely popular films like the innovative and technologically masterful "A Bug's Life" and "Toy Story" have redeemed the studio's recent shortcomings - at least in my eyes.
But what's happening to the writing?! Since "Aladdin," I've been of the impression that much of the writing and humour in Disney movies has become ultra zany and frivolous. Many of the characterisations are deliberately americanised, almost to the point of embarrassment, and this coupled with the American "in" jokes means foreign audiences are possibly being alienated.
I'm including Disney on my site despite the feelings I have about the direction the studios have taken. I realised how silly it would have been to omit them - a bit like forming an orchestra and leaving out the violins. I also wanted to pay tribute to Disney because, let's face it, they were the creators of the animation genre, the inspiration behind the whole thing. I have them to thank for nurturing my early interest in cartoons, an interest which, in time, grew into a near obsession.
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