Disney Odyssey #33 – How Many Colors Does The Wind Have, Anyway?

When it comes to historical accuracy, our next stop on the Disney Odyssey is definitely near the top of the list… that is, the list of films which took TONS of liberties with historical fact and real culture. Even so, it’s arguably one of the best portrayals of Native Americans in Disney canon, let alone in film history at large. Let that sink in for a second. Bottom line? We need more representation of cultures written and enacted by members of those cultures themselves. Representation matters.

That being said… it’s near and dear to our hearts for various reasons and we knew we needed to bring in an expert on historical weaponry… since we don’t have an expert on indigenous peoples of the Virginias circa 1600. That expert happens to be Katie Kowbel, a historical reenactor and a drama teacher that we know through the ren faire. She was thrilled to join us, and offer her truthbombs about musketry and How Reloading Works.

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The Film: Pocahontas (1995)

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Disney Odyssey #32 – Life is a Circle, and Revenge Happens Naturally

The next installment of the Disney Odyssey is an animal-centric movie, which means only one thing: the return of famed big game hunter and animal rights activist…. Professor Gordon! For this momentous occasion, we also invited comedic genius Andy Huttel to join us – and thus the meeting of the bearded gingers was begun. 

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An actual photo of Professor Gordon (left) and Andy Huttel (right) in the wild.

Both Bill and Andy had a lot of personal connections with The Lion King so it seemed only right to have them both weigh in on this highly formative film from the mid-1990s.

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The Film: The Lion King (1994)

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Disney Odyssey #31 – Parkour, Parody, and a Princess With An Attitude

 The excitement to finally get to watch one of the best Disney movies of all time was immense – and the Fella and I were happy to share this milestone moment with our dear friend Alexis.

A fortune-teller, a comedienne, and a witch at different turns in her life, Alexis is talented performer and creator in her own right. She definitely brought her a-game to the table when it came to our next stop on the Disney Odyssey… Aladdin!

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The Film: Aladdin (1992)

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Disney Odyssey #30 – How To Win True Love By Being More Interested in Books Than Dating

Prologue

Many folks in my age group consider the Disney Renaissance to be the finest era of Disney filmmaking in its long history. Many people in that age group would further say that this next movie in the Disney Odyssey is one of the greatest Disney movies ever made. Though the current young generation of would-be Disney princesses would say that their favorite princess is Anna or Elsa, many of my generation would immediately and without hesitation say Ariel (who doesn’t want to breathe underwater and have voluptuous hair, but perhaps even more will name… Belle.

“Belle. It’s Belle. BELLE IS THE BEST DISNEY PRINCESS,” they will say, fervently and unyieldingly, gesturing to their bookshelves, their blue hair bows, their coordinated porcelain tea sets with pale purple trim and decorative candelabras.

Belle is the Elizabeth Bennett of the Disney canon: she is beautiful, deeply intelligent, and doesn’t have time for judgy small-town villagers. She earns her true love/destiny/happiness through Being Herself To The Max, that is, by loving books, caring deeply for her family member(s), and for not backing down in the face of a brutish, emotionally unstable lonely man. In fact, she doesn’t back down SO MUCH that that brutish, emotionally unstable lonely man totally falls in love with her, and then she’s immediately wealthier than her entire obnoxious town combined.

It’s the ultimate dream. Get rich and find the man of your dreams simply by being yourself and reading a lot.

Please don’t take any of this to mean that I don’t like Belle, or that I’m judging you for liking Belle the best. I’m absolutely not. I freaking love Belle. She’s great. She is the foundation for many strong-willed, deeply loving, action-ready heroines yet to come, and she is wonderful.

To celebrate Belle’s radness, the Fella and I invited some truly amazing people for this edition of the Disney Odyssey, one of whom was only seeing this movie for the second time… ever.

This time we welcomed my personal steampunk fairy godparents Tee and Pip, and their wonderful daughter (codename: Sonic Boom).

Award-winning authors Tee Morris and Philippa Ballantine IN THE HOUUUUUUUSE!

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Tee, Sonic Boom, the Fella, moi. A true sitcom in the making (Pip is behind the camera).

Tee and Pip are co-authors of the award-winning series the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences – I’m sure if you’ve read anything else on this blog you’ve heard me mention them before – among other fantasy and science fiction stories of their own. They are fantastic human beings who also run a podcast called The Shared Desk about writing, publishing, pop culture, and social media. CHECK. THEM. OUT.

And now, on to the movie.

The Film: Beauty and the Beast (1991)

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Disney Odyssey #29 – Rule Number One About Rescuing Animals: Don’t Mouth Off To Poachers

Welcome to Australia! The landscapes are diverse and breathtaking, the animals strange and beautiful, only some of the people have funny accents, and everything is poisonous!

Wait.

Yes, that’s right… we’re on to our next film in the Disney Renaissance, and it’s a sequel! The very first sequel to make the list!

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The Film: The Rescuers Down Under (1990)

The Facts:

  • Bob Newhart and Eva Gabor returned to voice Bernard and Miss Bianca – but this would be Eva Gabor’s last film before her death in 1995. A third Rescuers film had been planned for 1996, but was scrapped after she passed away – and all future Rescuers films likewise were wiped off the drawing board. Additionally, the character of Orville was removed from this movie because his voice actor Jim Jordan had passed away. He was replaced with John Candy playing his brother, Wilbur. (Hashtag, Wright Brothers joke.)
  • This is the first animated sequel for a Disney movie – all following sequels would be straight-to-video (except for Fantasia 2000).
  • Use of the CAPS production system for this digital wonder of the modern animation world cut production time down by six whole months.
  • The flight scenes with Marahute (the great golden eagle) were heavily inspired by the work of Japanese animation maestro, Hayao Miyazaki.
  • The movie’s villain, Percival C. MacLeach, would inspire later Disney villains of a certain “masculine hunter” type, including Gaston (Beauty and the Beast), Clayton (Tarzan), Governor Ratcliffe (Pocahontas), and Commander Rourke (Atlantis: The Lost Empire).
  • Interestingly, it was released in the same weekend as one of the highest grossing films of the 90s – Home Alone. This was the primary factor which led to The Rescuers Down Under being the least (financially) successful film of the Disney Renaissance, and ultimately discouraged Disney from releasing other sequels in cinemas. Direct-to-video, however, was another story…
  • It is the only Disney Renaissance film to not be a musical.
  • The voice actress of Minnie Mouse – Russi Taylor – has a cameo line as one of the nurse mice in the hospital when Wilbur is about to be operated on.
  • The only actual Australians in the film are Tristan Rogers (the voice of Jake, the cool outback kangaroo mouse) and Peter Firth (the voice of Red, the male kangaroo in the MacLeach compound).
  • Disney master animator Glen Keane is responsible for the exquisite animation work on Marahute.

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