We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be. ~May Sarton

from my bookshelf

Friday, March 9, 2007

Animated Magic

For the first time in recent memory, I am excited about the upcoming animated offerings from Disney. There has been quite a bit of positive buzz surrounding their upcoming films Enchanted and the Frog Princess. What has me most thrilled about both films is that they will be traditionally animated (well, Enchanted will have animated sequences, and other bits that will be live-action). After they announced that they wouldn't be producing anymore traditionally animated features after Home on the Range, I really thought that it was truly the end of the traditionally animated film. Even before that, they had seemed to have lost their way a little in the process of creating these films.

Obviously, starting with The Little Mermaid, and the successful run of films that followed (Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, Pocahontas), they had achieved a sort of renaissance with their films, and it was an event to go see a Disney animated feature film. Slowly from there, the films (at least in my eyes) started to flounder ever so slightly. It wasn't that these films weren't as good (The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Mulan, Tarzan), but it almost seemed that they were relying more on the celebrity of it being a Disney animated film rather than allowing the films to stand on their own merits. The last couple of films they released (Treasure Planet, Lilo & Stitch and especially Home on the Range) all had the potential to capture the necessary magic to make them great movies (Lilo & Stitch more so than the others; it almost had it), but you could tell that the creator's hearts just weren't in it anymore.

With the advent of digital animation, I think people began to loose interest in the traditionally animated feature as well. It was all about the newest, flashiest, most color-saturated experience that you could get for your money, and anybody that had a computer seemed to be able to generate a digitally animated film, regardless of how bad the actual idea was (case in point: Hoodwinked! **shudders**) Disney has even jumped onto the digitally-animated-film-bandwagon. Granted, digital animation is amazing, and there have been some truly great films released (go see any Pixar film if you aren't sure about this, as they are all astounding films, and Disney's own Meet the Robinsons looks promising), but there is something truly magical in a well-drawn, hand animated film that you just can't capture any other way, and combined with the right script, the right voice-talent, and a director and animators that are in with with their heart and soul, you can't go wrong.

Disney may, finally, be understanding that, as they seem to be falling back on the tried and true techniques with The Frog Princess that always worked for them in the past. It's always a good idea to try something new, and I applaud Disney for trying to take their films in new directions, but it's time that they went back to their roots and remembered why they existed in the first place. Walt Disney built his kingdom with animated magic, and in my eyes, it's something that is sorely missed in today's day and age.

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