Rachel Wagner, having just completed her video reviews on the first 20 animated films by Walt Disney (the ones that Walt himself had any involvement with – he greenlit The Aristocats before his death), has put a Disney tag on her blog – and I’m giving it a go!
1. Favorite Fantasia short?
Rite of Spring, because that’s the one with dinosaurs in it! Second is The Pastoral Symphony, because I also love Greek mythology.
2. Favorite Disney short? (if seen Wartime films pick one of them if not another fav)
I haven’t seen any of the collections of shorts made in wartime that Rachel refers to. I have, however, seen some of the Silly Symphonies made in the 1930s – out of those (because I want to stick to the older era for the purposes of this tag, as well as something other than Fantasia), I would pick The Tortoise and The Hare. The Hare does some great tricks with his speed, such as playing tennis with himself, but he’s also such an arrogant prick that it’s very satisfying to see the Tortoise beat him (and only just, as well).
3. Lady Tremain/Cruella/Maleficent or Evil Queen better she villain?
Maleficent. She’s vicious, intimidating, refined, completely honest about how evil she is, and ready to either destroy someone physically or break them emotionally. Sleeping Beauty is almost too small a film for her; she deserves to be in a story where the stakes are higher. One thing she certainly didn’t deserve was that embarassing Angelina Jolie film.
4. Disney film you loved as child that doesn’t hold up well?
I enjoyed watching most Disney films as a child, and the one that holds up the least now is The Aristocats. Apart from the scenes with Napoleon and Lafayette, which even as a child I always looked forward to most, it’s not very compelling and the characters are relatively unengaging.
5. Disney film you didn’t love as a child but like as adult?
There isn’t really anything from the original Walt era that falls into this category, but if counting any Disney film ever, The Hunchback of Notre Dame comes closest.
6. Cinderella, Aurora or Snow White?
I feel I’m supposed to say Cinderella because she’s the most developed character, but honestly, I like Aurora best. She has a nice design and she’s less sickly sweet than Cinderella or Snow White.
7. Favorite Alice in Wonderland character?
The Caterpillar – I like the way he speaks, and his smoke patterns.
8. What do you prefer Dumbo or Bambi?
Bambi – I like the style better, such as with the dramatic stag fight, and the simple story of an animal growing up and facing the natural challenges that come with it.
9. Rank live action remakes- 101, Alice, Jungle Book, Maleficent, Cinderella
- Cinderella – I’ve already talked plenty about how much I loved this one.
- The Jungle Book – very enjoyable, and an improvement on the original in some ways, like making Mowgli more likeable.
- 101 Dalmatians – average but still fun.
- Alice in Wonderland – shoehorns the original concept into a generic ‘Chosen One’ action storyline; pretty bad.
- Maleficent – but not as bad as this lazily written film that takes everything enjoyable about Sleeping Beauty and twists it around to make it crap!
10. 101 Dalmatians, Aristocats, or Lady and the Tramp?
101 Dalmatians – the story and the characters are the best of the three, and it’s hard to beat that ‘Cruella de Vil’ song.
11. Of all the shorts which do you think would make the best feature film?
Out of the ones I’ve seen, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. That’s really the only one that you could build on to a significant degree: maybe have Mickey making more use of the hat’s powers, or taking a more detailed look at his relationship with the Sorcerer. I know there was technically a film called The Sorcerer’s Apprentice with Nicolas Cage, but that didn’t have anything to do with the original short.
12. Favorite and Least favorite of first 20 Disney films?
My favourite is Sleeping Beauty. It looks fantastic, and it has a pure, enjoyable story with even a decent bit of action. The leads, Aurora and Philip, are nice to watch despite not being especially complex, and the cast of side characters – Maleficent, the fairies, the kings, even Philip’s horse – are brilliant.
As for least favourite, I was never enamoured with Pinocchio. It was too scary for my liking and Pinocchio himself was too much of an ungrateful brat.
13. Thoughts on Walt Disney?
I can’t pretend to be an expert on the man, but I’m very impressed by – and grateful for – his sheer creativity and ambition, producing projects and ideas that have endured unimaginably well and provided so much enjoyment. The world of film would be very different today without him.
14. Out of first 20 reviews what film have you not seen that you want to see? Or what review did you learn something new/see it in a new way?
There are five films, that are really collections of shorts, that I’ve never seen: Saludos Amigos, Make Mine Music, Fun and Fancy Free, Melody Time and Ichabod and Mr Toad. To be honest, I’m not too motivated to see them, except for Mickey and the Beanstalk from Fun and Fancy Free. The one clip I’ve seen of Donald going crazy is very funny. I also found it interesting when Rachel explained how reliant Disney was on the success of Cinderella, due to being in severe debt from the underperformances of previous projects – plus the amount of work and detail that went into Sleeping Beauty.
15. Coachman/Stromboli/Monstro/Honest Fox- best Pinocchio villain?
Monstro was the one that scared me the most as a child.