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!

15036208_10154452213256348_3116209209091236406_n

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)

untitled

Continue reading

Disney Odyssey #12 – If the Shoe Fits, Marry Her Immediately

Glory be! We finally made it to Cinderella! It’s been an appropriately long time since I watched this one, and I’m glad we got through the odd and inconsistent 1940s package films to reach the golden, dreamy 1950s. Cinderella is in many ways the ‘number one’ Disney Princess, although Snow White is the first. If you check Google Images, Cindy is usually pictured at the center of the Disney Princess flying-v line-up. Observe:

WHO RUN THE WORLD? GIRLS!

WHO RUN THE WORLD? GIRLS!

While perhaps our modern sensibilities and craving for fierce, fearless ladies in leading roles may tell us that the earlier Disney Princesses are weak or wimpy, I’d like to encourage you all to remember that Snow White was fourteen years old and Cinderella was one of the most humble, dignified, good-hearted people on the planet. Let’s begin, shall we?

Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 11.34.54 AM

The Film: Cinderella (1950)

The Facts:

  • At the time Cinderella was made, Disney was $4 million in debt. The film cost $3 million to make. The profits from the film, however, were enough to bankroll several later films, save the entire company from bankruptcy, and fund the initial work on building Disneyland. Also during the 2005 re-release, it made $64 million, selling 3.2 million copies in the first week.
  • The story came from Charles Perrault’s fairy tale, which – for those of you playing along at home – is an Aarne-Thompson type 510A – “the persecuted heroine.” There are hundreds of variants of this type of story the world over, the oldest of which (dating back to 7 BC) is the story of Rhodopis, a Greek slave who marries the King of Egypt.
  • This is rated one of the best animated films of all time by the American Film Institute.
  • Live action reference was used to keep animation costs down – in fact, approximately 90% of it was filmed live.
  • Cinderella marks the first time that Disney sought its musical composition from Tin Pan Alley – and you can tell. The music in this film is iconic, catchy, and unified in a way that previous Disney films are not. It was also the first film where Disney copyrighted and released the soundtrack under the newly minted Walt Disney Music Company.
  • This film also features one of the pioneer examples of double track vocals long before it was used in pop music.
  • Walt said later that the torn-up dress Cinderella wears was inspired by Salvador Dali, and the impeccable ballgown she wears is heavily influenced by Christian Dior, who was just becoming a worldwide presence in the fashion industry.
  • Walt had two films in progress at once: Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland. Rather than schedule them himself, he challenged the production teams to race each other to finish and determine which film would release first.

Continue reading