If you lose your way, contact the barking chain…

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ONE HUNDRED AND ONE DALMATIANS


Directed By:
Wolfgang Reitherman, Hamilton Luske, & Clyde Geronimi
Produced By: Walt Disney
Based On: Dodie Smith’s The Hundred and One Dalmatians
Premiered On:
January 25, 1961
Distribution By:
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

101 Dalmatians, and yes I’m quite aware that it is technically supposed to be spelled out but I’d much rather save space, is a film whose story sounds rather simple but is one that I can wholeheartedly say I’ve yet to find anything even remotely similar. The tale begins with a young man named Roger whom together with his Dalmatian, Pongo, who happens to spot a young lady named Anita and her Dalmatian, Perdita. Pongo, realizing that this is the best chance to get his human a mate, and with the added bonus of one for himself too, manages to get the two humans to meet and interact with each other.

It’s love at first collide and the two pairs are tied together in holy matrimony faster than you can blink. We quickly move on ahead to Perdita giving birth to not one, not four, but fifteen puppies in all. However, the happy moment is swiftly spoiled with the arrival of an old “friend” of Anita’s named Cruella de Vil, or as Perdita knows her “Devil Woman.” Cruella is positively ecstatic over the birth of the puppies though she’s initially horrified at the sight of them being with spots.

She says that she’ll buy them all but Roger and Anita both refuse her offer and she leaves with quite a rage. A few weeks go by before Cruella’s henchmen, Jasper and Horace, bungle their way into the Radcliffe home and burgle away the fifteen puppies. Despite their near incompetency, Scotland Yard is unable to find the pair and so Pongo and Perdita utilize the “Twilight Bark,” a canine equivalent to a gossip line.

Word eventually reaches a sheepdog named Colonel, his feline compatriot Sergeant Tibbs, and equine buddy Captain. The three investigate and its old Tibbs that finds the fifteen puppies plus eighty-four more in the old de Vil place, appropriately named Hell Hall. It’s there that Tibbs, and eventually Pongo and Perdita, learn of Cruella’s plan to make a fur coat out of the 99 Dalmatian puppies and thus it’s a race against time to rescue the puppies.

I’d say more of the film’s ending but really, it’s got to be seen to be believed, especially when one considers how utterly and maniacally insane Cruella de Vil actually is, especially when it comes to her getting what she wants.

Rather surprisingly, at least for me at any rate, it was 101 Dalmatians that helped to successfully pull Disney out of the financial, ahem, setbacks that resulted from Sleeping Beauty’s higher production costs. Aside from being a box office hit, the film utilized many inexpensive animation techniques, like xerography, which is in itself a dry photocopy technique.

Basically, rather than having the artists original drawings having to be redrawn onto the animation cels, they were printed directly onto them, removing a major step in the coloring process. This technique was used for a little over twenty-eight years and well over twenty different films, some of them even being films from other studios like The Ballade of the Daltons and The Land Before Time.

As to the original story compared to the film, I will first go on the record saying that Dodie Smith’s dream had actually come true when not even a year after it was published, Walt Disney himself had read it and promptly acquired the rights to make it into a film. I shan’t lie, I’m more than a wee bit envious of Miss Smith in that regard. Anyway, as to the differences, there’s really only a few to be worth mentioning and even then, so few people have actually read the book, never mind actually knowing there was one in the first place, that it hardly matters.

Regardless, the biggest, and likely most major, of changes between the book and film is tied directly with Perdita. In the novel, Perdita was actually a sort of canine wet nurse found and rescued to help care for the many Dalmatian puppies that were born of Pongo and his mate, Missis. In the book, there were 97 puppies with the wet-nurse Perdita and her mate Prince together with Pongo and his Missis to make the total 101 Dalmatians. There was also a surprising subtraction in the film, a cat belonging to Cruella.

A cat who positively and absolutely loathed her with a passion to make the bowels of Hell itself seem tame by comparison because Cruella, ever true to her idea that animals are worthless beyond their fur, had every single one of her cat’s many litters drowned.

… Wow. Hard to believe that the film version of Cruella is actually tamer than the book version…

Contrary to most Disney animated films that has songs in them, 101 Dalmatians has one of the fewest with a meager three with only one actually having any part in the overall story. That of course being the song that got Roger his major score and provided the funds for the family to acquire enough land to house well over a hundred Dalmatians. That song of course being the popular “Cruella de Vil,” a song that Roger created to express his utter disdain for his wife’s old schoolyard chum.

Overall, I give 101 Dalmatians a solid four out of five. It’s a good film, great even for its animation and storytelling, but… Again, much like Lady and the Tramp, it appeals more to the avid dog lovers, particularly those whom favor Dalmatians. Cruella is a rather frightful individual for the young, particularly when she goes full rage on or off the road. That and I shan’t lie, looking that many puppies at once makes one’s eyes go sore from trying, and failing, to count them all.

A fairy tale come true…

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SLEEPING BEAUTY


Supervising Directed By: Clyde Geronimi
Produced By:
Walt Disney
Based On: Charles Perrault’s “Sleeping Beauty” (1697) & Brothers Grimm’s “Little Briar Rose” (1812)
Premiered On:
January 29, 1959
Distribution By:
Buena Vista Distribution

Ah, the tale of Sleeping Beauty… One of the few classical stories out there that any man, woman, or children can tell without ever once having read the original source materials of Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm simply for the fact that such a tale has long been set in the mythologies of mankind. Still, for those precious few who know nothing of this story, allow me a brief overview of what transpires.

In a kingdom long, long ago, a princess by name of Aurora is born and a holiday is proclaimed/made on the day of her christening. Among the many multitudes of guests from across the land are three fairies, Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather, whom each deliver a magical gift unto the child. From Flora, Aurora receives the gift of beauty rare, gold of sunshine in her hair, and lips to shame the red, red rose. From Fauna, Aurora is given the gift of song, of melody her whole life long where critters like the nightingale shall be her troubadour, bringing their own sweet serenades to her door.

However, before Merryweather can give Aurora her gift, the party is interrupted by the arrival of the wicked fairy, Maleficent, whom is none to pleased at having not been invited, or even wanted, at the christening. Maleficent thus curses the baby princess, proclaiming for all to hear that before the sun sets upon the eve of her sixteenth birthday, Aurora will prick her finger upon a spindle of a spinning wheel and die.

After Maleficent makes her escape, Merryweather uses her own gift to change Maleficent’s curse, her power not being great enough to overcome the dark fairy’s own. To Aurora she changes the curse to that of a deep sleep, from which she can only be awakened by true love’s first kiss. Aurora’s father, still feaerful for the safety of his daughter, orders that all spinning wheels in the land to be burned and the fairies, believing that still will not be enough to protect Aurora, beg King Stefan and his Queen to allow them to take Aurora away, far away, until she can return safe and sound upon her sixteenth birthday.

With a heavy heart, the King and Queen bid farewell to their baby daughter, whom we see has grown up into a beautiful young maiden named Briar Rose by the fairies that masquerade themselves as her aunt. Tasked with gathering some berries so that they might create a surprise party for her, the three fairies, after years and years, finally fall to temptation and utilize their magic to create the perfect cake and dress for their “niece,” completely unaware of the watching eyes of Diablo, Maleficent’s familiar.

Meanwhile, Rose happens to attract the attention of Prince Phillip, the very man whom she was betrothed to as a child, with her beautiful singing. The two share a lovely song and dance, becoming instantaneously enamored with one another and promising to meet again later that evening.

Unfortunately, Rose’s declaration of love is met with the cold, hard truth. She is a royal and had been promised, since birth, to be married to a prince. Phillip too is told of this by his father but manages to sneak off to see the young maiden regardless, completely unaware of the trap awaiting him by Maleficent’s forces.

Rose, brought back to the castle before the sun had truly set, sits alone in her room and is immediately bewitched to prick her finger upon a spinning wheel crafted by Maleficent herself. Though she gloats briefly with the fairies over her victory, Maleficent takes true pride in rubbing it in Prince Phillip’s face that the peasant girl and Aurora are one and the same and that she promises to release him when he is an old man, on the verge of death, so that he may meet his true love once more whom, thanks to Merryweather’s blessing and Maleficent’s curse combined, will not have aged a day.

The fairies, after putting the rest of the kingdom to sleep until the spell upon Aurora is broken, rush to Phillip’s aid and grant unto him the Shield of Virtue and the Sword of Truth. With these mighty weapons and with some timely magical aid via the three fairies, Phillip makes it out of Maleficent’s castle and even manages to successfully hack his way through the forest of thorns she set in his path.

With no other options left to her, Maleficent arrives to deal with the prince herself, allowing all of the powers of Hell to transform her fairy form into that of a massive black dragon. The battle is quite intense, easily one of the most epic fights in the Golden Age of Disney Animation, and it comes to an end in a most awesome way. The Sword of Truth is blessed once more so that its aim might be swift and sure, that evil die and good endure.

Maleficent’s heart is pierced and vanquished back to the darkness from whence she came and Phillip and Aurora reunite with but a simple kiss.

As I had said earlier, the original stories of Sleeping Beauty are one told time and time again and that the two most popularized versions, Perrault’s and the Brothers Grimm’s, are in fact one and the same though with minor differences. Yet, the most outstanding difference between the original story and that of Disney’s adaptation is the spell utilized by the fairies to put the whole of the kingdom to sleep and even Prince Phillip’s inclusion. See, in the original novel, it was not in the span of a single day that Sleeping Beauty had her rest, oh no.

It was over a hundred years that she and the whole of her kingdom slept until one brave prince dared to risk life and limb for what was to be believed as nothing more than a fairy tale.

Another, rather ironic difference really, is that it was the fault of the good fairies that such trials and tribulations faced the young prince in the first place. The evil fairy, that being Maleficent, only cursed the child the one time and frankly had nothing more to do with the child or the kingdom since. In point of fact, there were a total of eight fairies in the novel, including Maleficent.

The first six of the fairies granted many more gifts to the Sleeping Beauty too, including but not limited to: beauty, wit, grace, dance, and song. Of course, each of the fairies were also granted a golden casket containing gold jeweled utensils too so there might have been a bit more than goodhearted gift-giving there.

Unfortunately for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, it too would follow in similar circumstances to Alice in Wonderland insomuch that upon its initial release, it was deemed as something of a failure in animation and in sales, earning only 5.3 million dollars when its production was a little over six, which also made it twice as expensive compared to the three previously made films too.

In point of fact, it was because of this dismal acclaim, despite utilizing the film to help promote the opening of Disneyland via Sleeping Beauty’s Castle and the like, that Walt Disney focused on live action films for a few years and the company itself staying well away from classical fairy tales up until the release of The Little Mermaid, some thirty odd years after Walt Disney’s passing.

Kind of funny how Sleeping Beauty is now one of the most recognized of the Disney Animated Feature Films, with Maleficent herself being the de-facto chief Disney Villain, second only to the likes of Chernabog and even then, only in terms of power.

Much like Alice in Wonderland, there are a multitude of what I like to call momentous songs, songs that are quite frankly only sung in a brief scene and have no real lasting impact beyond said scene. As such, there is really no other choice for song but the one and only “Once Upon a Dream,” one of the most recognized of Disney songs to date. Heck, it was even given a somber and frankly sinister revision in the recent live action re-adaption to Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent.

The dance that Aurora has with her animal friends as she plays at dancing with a real person is extremely well animated though one can’t help but wonder how in the heck that poor owl is keeping the cloak up in the air. Yet, for me personally, the real winning moment in the sequence is when Phillip switches himself in and the look on Aurora’s face when she realizes she’s suddenly singing and dancing with an actual guy. If ever there’s a picture needed to define the phrase “What the heck” it’s Aurora’s right there in that moment.

I’d say this is a film for all ages but I would be stretching that truth a bit more than I’d like. For all the amazing villainy that is Maleficent, she can be quite intense for really young audiences, particularly when she goes dragon. Aside from that though I give this film a solid five out of five.

I’d give it more than that like I had Alice in Wonderland and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs but the only reason I refrain from doing so is simply for the fact that despite being the titular character involved in the film itself, Aurora is only outmatched by one other Disney character with few speaking lines despite being the main character. That’d be Dumbo. Who doesn’t talk. Like, at all.

Kind of sad if you think about it.

It’s a beautiful night…

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LADY AND THE TRAMP


Directed By: Hamilton Luske, Clyde Geronimi, & Wilfred Jackson
Produced By:
Walt Disney
Loosely Based On: Ward Greene’s Happy Dan, the Whistling Dog (1924)
Premiered On:
June 22, 1955
Distribution By:
Buena Vista Distribution

Easily one of the most recognized of romantic films, animated or otherwise, the origins behind the film Lady and the Tramp are actually quite different than what one would have expected of a film that reached such iconic status. Though, as always, let us first get the basic summary of the film out of the way first.

Taking place in the early 1900’s in a quaint Midwestern town, a young man by name of Jim Dear gives his wife Darling an American cocker spaniel puppy as a Christmas gift. The puppy, named Lady, grows up and lives a happy life with the couple and becomes good friends with a pair of neighborhood dogs, Jock, a literal Scottish terrier, and Trusty, an old bloodhound who appears to have lost his sense of smell.

However, the happy times for Lady eventually start to change when Darling and Jim Dear have their baby and despite the warnings of a local mongrel by name of the Tramp, Lady does not fear that her place in the house will change. In point of fact, she becomes rather endeared with the little baby. Unfortunately, Jim Dear and Darling decide to leave for a small trip and rather than taking either the baby or Lady with them, leave them in the care of their Aunt Sarah, a woman who rather detests dogs and has a pair of troublesome Siamese cats, Si and Am.

The two cats waste no time in causing havoc in the house and while Lady initially puts up with it, the last straw is pulled when the two make for the baby’s room to steal the little one’s milk. The two put a quick turnaround on Lady though, making it appear that she was the one who caused the mess and even harmed them. Aunt Sarah takes Lady to get muzzled and the horrified Lady flees with the muzzle firmly attached.

Tramp comes upon her and with some surprising ingenuity, leads her to a local zoo where they have a beaver remove the muzzle. Tramp leads Lady on a tour of how he lives his life, ending with the romantic scene of a spaghetti dinner just behind an Italian restaurant. Though Lady has begun to fall in love with Tramp, and he with her, she decides to return home because, “who will watch over the baby” otherwise. Unfortunately, misfortune strikes Lady again as Tramp, distracted with raising some havoc with a flock of chickens, unwittingly gets her caught and brought to a pound where she learns of Tramp’s long list of past relations.

Surprisingly, Aunt Sarah arrives to spring Lady from the pound but keeps her tied up in the doghouse in the backyard. Tramp comes by to apologize for her ending up in the pound but she will have none of it or of him, telling him she doesn’t care if he gets careless, or if the dogcatcher finally manages to nab him, but to just go away and leave her alone. He does so but immediately turns right around when he hears Lady barking in distress. She tells him that a rat has crawled up and into the baby’s room and Tramp wastes no time in breaking into the house to confront the rat.

I’d spoil the climax of the film and the ending, but really frankly, it is far too sweet an ending for me to try and romanticize with mere words and honestly, I’d end up spending far too much time talking of the idiocy that is Aunt Sarah otherwise.

Now, contrary to what one might assume from the listing above, Lady and the Tramp is not in fact based on the short story published in Cosmopolitan magazine but rather the character of Tramp himself. In point of fact, the majority of the film, that being Lady and her dealing with a household radically changed with the appearance of a baby, was inspired by one of Walt Disney’s story men, Joe Grant, and his own little English Springer Spaniel named Lady.

Despite his approval and giving the go ahead, Walt Disney wasn’t pleased with any of the story concepts that were made for the then titled “Lady” as he felt that the titular dog was far too sweet and that the film was lacking in action or suspense. It wasn’t until he read the short story of Happy Dan, the Whistling Dog that Walt go the idea of falling in love with a cynical dog like the character in the story.

In point of fact, Walt Disney went so far as to hire Ward Greene and had him write a novelization of the film and have the book published two years before its premiere so that people would be familiar with the story itself. I still find that a little odd but then again, the trailers spoiled the ending already so I can’t fault his reasoning too much there.

Heck, Walt Disney even contributed his own life experience with a dog in the film via the opening scene of Lady being presented to Darling by Jim Dear via being given in a hatbox. Walt Disney, in the proverbial doghouse himself for having forgotten a dinner date with his wife, sought to give her a puppy as an apology gift. He did so by giving her what she at first guessed to be a new hat, which admittedly had her even further disappointed with him as she made it a point to pick out her own hats rather than risk her husband’s attempts at choosing them. Disappointment turned to delight and years later, we’ve got the opening scene to Lady and the Tramp.

As to the song that best describes this film as a whole, let’s be fair here, is there really any question? The song “Bella Notte” or “Beautiful Night” is easily the most recognized song in the film. Sure “We Are Siamese” and “He’s a Tramp” are fun beats to listen to but both songs only describe a particular character in the film itself, not the film as a whole. It and the scene of Tramp and Lady sharing a kiss via a strand of spaghetti are easily the most recognized moment in the film. A moment that almost was cut by Walt Disney who thought the idea as being too silly but thankfully, was talked out of it by the film crew.

Overall, I give Lady and the Tramp four out of five. It’s not that it’s not as great a film as say Alice in Wonderland or Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs but rather that it is a film that plays to a certain niche. Dog lovers and romantics will especially love this movie, regardless of age, but if there’s one fault in this film it’s the voice acting, which, even at the best of times, can get somewhat grating on the ears, particularly when a character is yelling.

You can fly…

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PETER PAN


Directed By: Hamilton Luske, Clyde Geronimi, & Wilfred Jackson
Produced By:
Walt Disney
Based On: J.M. Barrie’s Peter & Wendy (Novel, 1911) & Peter Pan (Play, 1904)
Premiered On:
February 5, 1953
Distribution By:
RKO Radio Pictures

The last of the Walt Disney films, animated or otherwise, to be distributed by RKO Radio Pictures before the creation of Disney’s own distribution company, Buena Vista Distribution, Peter Pan is arguably one of the most popular films of Walt Disney’s time and one that has since had several varying tie-ins since its premiere, most recently with the prequel film series featuring Tinker Bell and her fellow fairies.

The story of Peter Pan focuses on three young children, Wendy, John, and Michael Darling all of whom share a nursery room together with Wendy telling tales of the boy who never grows up, Peter Pan, to her younger brothers. However, after a bit of childish antics committed by the boys and their nanny/dog Nana, their father has had enough and declares that tonight would be the last night Wendy spends in the nursery as she is old enough to have a room of her own.

That night, the Darling children are visited by Peter Pan himself and after Wendy helps him reattach his shadow, via sewing of all things, takes the children back with him to Never Land where they have a series of adventures there with mermaids, Indians, and a pirate crew led by the infamous Captain James Hook who is constantly being stalked by a crocodile who seeks to devour him after getting a taste of his hand several years prior.

Much like Alice in Wonderland, I don’t want to give the whole of the film away but I will say that the overall focus of the story is truly the adventures and antics of the children, primarily that of Peter, Wendy, and especially Captain Hook, who virtually owns every scene that he’s in. Well, him and the crocodile that is most commonly referred to as Tick-Tock, for his having swallowed an alarm clock and thus producing a loud ticking-tocking noise whenever he’s near. Seriously, Tick-Tock may not have had a speaking role but the way he emotes through facial expressions more than made up for a lack of voice, particularly whenever he comes close to devouring Captain Hook.

As to the differences between the film and the original play/book there are quite a few to be known though these are rather minute in comparison to other adaptations. The first major difference, and honestly the first time this rule had been broken, was Peter Pan being played by a boy. It has been a longstanding tradition that Peter Pan is to be played by a woman, at least in the play productions. Unsurprisingly though, one other tradition did stay true in the film from the original play, that being that Mr. Darling and Captain Hook be played by the same man.

One other major difference between the original play and the film itself is Tinker Bell’s sacrificial moment. In the film, she saves Peter Pan from a timed bomb whereas in the novel and play, it was a bottle of medicine that was actually poison. In the play itself, this is the moment where Peter Pan breaks the fourth wall and turns to the audience, begging them, pleading with them, that if they hold even a smidgeon of belief in their hearts than to clap, to show loud and clear that they still believe in fairies.

As to the song that I feel best describes the film as a whole, it’s is without a doubt the song “You Can Fly,” which is actually one part song and whole lot of conversation between Peter Pan and the Darling children, primarily in how one is able to fly. The whole of the scene is a joy to watch and listen to alike, particularly with Tinker Bell offering her own silent commentary to everything by way of laughing uproariously at the Darling children’s initial failure. Once they get their feet off the ground though, it’s a whole new spectacle to enjoy.

Despite my clear choice however, I feel it worth mentioning that the song “The Second Star to the Right,” which is performed during the opening credits, was recycle from the song that Alice was originally going to sing called “Beyond the Laughing Sky.” Another fun piece of trivia, my personal favorite song from the film is one that was never actually sung aloud in the film itself, but rather was performed through instruments whenever Tick-Tock arrived onto the scene. The song is, “Never Smile at a Crocodile” and is frankly one of the silliest songs I’ve ever heard and yet I can’t help but hum it to myself, particularly when I’m feeling particularly… crocodilian.

Overall, Peter Pan gets a solid five out of five from me. It’s a film that I strongly can be watched by all ages regardless of some minor, ahem, hiccups that occur pertaining to the Indians of Never Land. To that I say that the song, and even the portrayal of the Indians, is a product of its time and one that while not something to ignore should not be taken to the extreme either.

And contrariwise, what it is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be it would…

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ALICE IN WONDERLAND


Directed By: Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, & Hamilton Luske
Produced By:
Walt Disney
Based On: Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through The Looking Glass
Premiered On:
July 26, 1951
Distribution By:
RKO Radio Pictures

Seeing as I’ve already reviewed Disney’s Alice in Wonderland at least in concerns to a lot of random trivia and fun facts, I’ll remain focused on the three elements of the film’s story compared to the original, my choice in song that encompasses the film as a whole, and whether this is a film for all ages or younger audiences.

The tale of Alice begins one lazy summer afternoon as Alice tries to pay attention to her history lessons but finds it rather difficult to focus on a book without pictures or conversations. Her attention is further grabbed by the incredibly odd sight of a white rabbit wearing a waistcoat and carrying a rather large pocket watch racing by with cries of being late for a very important date. Curious as to what the White Rabbit could possibly late for, Alice gives chase and after a bit of a tumble finds herself in the maddening world known simply as Wonderland.

As she searches high and low for the White Rabbit, Alice meets an incredibly diverse, and rather mad, cast of characters such as the eccentric Dodo, a choir of singing and talking flowers, a egotistical hookah-smoking Caterpillar, and a deviously grinning Cheshire Cat just to name a few.

After taking part in the stupidest tea party in all of her life, which to be fair she should have expected with such company as a Mad Hatter, March Hare, and Dormouse, Alice is fed up with Wonderland and tries to find her way home only to realize she has no way out. That is, until the Cheshire Cat reignites her curiosity and leads her to meeting the Queen of Hearts where Alice comes close to losing her head on more than one occasion.

Fearing for her safety, and having more than enough of everyone’s eccentricities, Alice runs as fast as she can back to the door as Wonderland slowly starts to unravel around her until she makes it to the talking Doorknob. The Doorknob informs her that he’s still locked and that she needn’t worry about getting back outside of Wonderland, as she is already there asleep and dreaming. Alice wakes with a mild start and her sister, fondly exasperated with her younger siblings fantastical whimsies, leads them back home for tea.

This is one of the few adaptations of Lewis Carroll’s classic story that is as close to the book as can be allowed for time. There are many key moments and characters missing in this film though it can be argued that they were merely switched around with those present in the sequel Through the Looking-Glass. Namely, the twins Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, the Walrus and the Carpenter, and the talking, or rather singing, flowers, all of whom were featured in the second book and not the first.

Likewise, the film is missing the characters of the Duchess, her pepper-obsessed Cook, the Duchess’ young baby that turns into a pig upon rescue by Alice, a melancholy Mock Turtle and his musically whimsical Gryphon buddy.

A lot of reasons have been presented as to why these changes were done, from time constraints to trying to keep the story suitable for young audiences. Much as Wonderland is a tale of fantasy and wonder, there are some rather darker tones to its story, particular with the Duchess and how she treats her kid and the fate of said child.

As to the song that I find to fit the film the best… I’ll admit, I was tempted to say it was the song in the opening credits “Alice in Wonderland” that would fit the role the most but really, it’s far too short to consider. That and it is, after all, a credits song and not one featured in the actual film itself. I’ll also admit that the song “A Golden Afternoon” is likely the most recognized of the songs in the film and is definitely one worth watching if only for the stunning array of characterized flowers, but again it’s not a song that really fits the film as a whole.

No, that honor goes to the song sung by Alice herself, “In A World of My Own.” A song that, originally, was going to feature a dazzling array of visuals where Alice’s daydreams would intermingle with the real world until it became difficult to tell just where the reality ended and the dream began. Still, even without those visuals, Alice’s song still holds true to the point of Wonderland and Alice’s adventures there. After all, what child does not imagine a world of there own, where the rivers run up instead of down and the sun and the moon reside together in the sky at the same time?

Overall, Alice in Wonderland gets a solid five out of five stars from me. It’s not the perfect adaptation and while it lacks anything more than the common moral of curiosity and caution, this is a story of nonsense and should be treated as such. Kids will enjoy the wide array of colors and life to be found in Wonderland while adults may remember a time when they imagined such nonsensical things as smoking caterpillars and singing flowers. It’s a film that’s meant to inspire us because if a girl such as Alice can dream up a world as fantastical and everlasting as Wonderland, then who is to say that no one else can do the same?

A wonderful dream come true…

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CINDERELLA


Directed By:
Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske, & Wilfred Jackson
Produced By: Walt Disney
Based On: “Cendrillon” by Charles Perrault (1697)
Premiered On:
March 4, 1950
Distribution By:
RKO Radio Pictures

While it cannot be denied that it was the film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which started the art of animation in films and made Disney a household name, it was the likes of Cinderella that kept it going through one of the darkest hours the company had ever faced. For despite the acclaim of the films Bambi, Dumbo, and Fantasia have nowadays, none of those films did much in the box office and some were even panned by critics. That’s not even taking World War II into account either. Prior to this film, Walt Disney and his company were petering on the edge of bankruptcy, owing well over 4 million dollars in debt.

This film would either make or break the company and needless to say, it certainly made in a vast number of ways. Aside from being the first animated film to be worked on by the Disney Legends who would eventually be known as Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men, this film had broken new ground on the music scene of things.

But before that let’s get the general plot of the film out of the way for those poor few who’ve never seen, or read, the tale of Cinderella. The story goes that a young girl’s father, having passed away, grows up to be treated as nothing more than a servant girl to the likes of her cruel stepmother and equally mean step-sisters. Despite the hardships of her family, Cinderella, as she is so named by her stepfamily, lives each day with a smile on her face and a song in her heart.

One day, word arrives from the castle that the king, in a desperate attempt to find his son a suitor so that he may have spend what time he has left adoring his grandchildren, has declared a ball for all eligible maiden of the land to attend. Cinderella asks her stepmother if she may go as well and is promised that she can so long as she finishes her chores and finds a suitable dress to wear for the occasion. Fortunately for Cinderella, her little mice and bird friends happily make her a dress while she goes through all of the chores as quickly as she can.

Unfortunately, though they used a dress belonging to Cinderella’s mother as a base, the beads, sash, and other such assortments were taken from her stepsisters, whom had discarded them earlier. Lady Tremaine points this out to her daughters whom angrily tear apart Cinderella’s dress and set the poor girl to tears. Thankfully, all hope is not lost as Cinderella’s fairy godmother appears and grants her goddaughter a gift or two. A fancy carriage to carry her to the ball and a dress to make any royal’s head turn, most of which will return back to normal upon the stroke of midnight save for the pair of glass slippers.

Cinderella attends the ball and has a romantic dance with the prince but the clock soon starts to strike midnight and Cinderella beats a hasty retreat back home, unwittingly leaving a glass slipper behind. The prince, eager to find the maiden who had so easily ensnared his heart, the Prince makes a declaration of his own, that each and every available maiden try on the small slipper and should the shoe fit, she shall be his bride.

News reaches Cinderella’s home and as her family prepares for the arrival of the Duke, Cinderella unknowingly hums the song that was played at the ball, leading her stepmother to realize that she is the mystery girl whom has the kingdom in such an uproar and so locks her in the attic. The animal crew comes to the rescue but Lady Tremaine tries once more to stop Cinderella’s happily ever after by causing the Duke to trip and destroy the glass slipper. Thankfully, Cinderella has the other slipper and upon proving that hers is the foot that fits, is taken back to the castle and is later wed to the young prince.

Not surprisingly, the film and its original story only differ in the smallest of details, most consisting of the inclusion of Cinderella’s animal friends and their degree of sapience but that’s a trope that will never, ever die amongst Disney animated films. Heck, the only true difference between Perrault’s tale and Disney’s version is that Disney had Cinderella’s dog turn into a footman and her old horse into a coach driver, which in its own way is incredibly ironic. In the original story, it was a lizard that was made the footman, as was the case in the more recent live action film re-imagining, and a rat that was turned into a coachman.

That’s right. A rat. Not a goose, not a dog, but a rat. Now, I’ve nothing against rats as films like The Secret of NIMH and Ratatouille have done excellent work towards their image, but really? How poorly was Cinderella being treated that she had to live with a rat’s company?

To a more lighter note, and do forgive the pun, the music and sound of the film was one of its highest points. How high? Well, following its release, Cinderella was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Sound, Best Original Score, and Best Original Song. Unfortunately, it didn’t win a single one of them, losing out to films that, in a twist of cruel irony, I have never heard of before.

Still, despite having lost the chance for an Academy Award, the song “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” had become a hit single on four different occasions, and was even recorded as a cover version by then popular singers Perry Como and the Fontane Sisters. In point of fact, it was due to the popularity of the music in Cinderella that led to the creation of the Walt Disney Music Company and the concept of marketing film soundtracks. Prior to Cinderella, most songs from films had little value to the studio that owned them and were commonly sold off to major music companies to be made into sheet music.

While it can be argued that “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” is the theme of both Cinderella the person and the film itself, I can’t help but put “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” over that one simply for the fact that it is such a fun song to sing and even more fun to watch. Mostly because you can tell that what Cinderella wants more than a ride to the ball is for her mother’s dress to be repaired, or at the least, fixed up. It’s only because of her near limitless patience and understanding that stops the poor girl from ripping her hair out as Fairy Godmother literally fails to notice the one thing she should be fixing first and foremost.

Actually, on the note of music, and again I apologize for the poor pun, it was because of the songs in Cinderella that Ilene Woods, Cinderella’s voice actress, was chosen out of 309 other candidates. On a lark, and due in no small part to her friends pushing her to do so, she had made some demo recordings of her singing a few of the film’s songs. Those same friends then secretly sent the recordings off to Disney without her knowing about it and she had no idea until Walt Disney himself called her up with the opinion that hers was a voice that had the right “fairy tale” tone.

In point of fact, it was with Ilene Woods that Walt Disney tried something that had never been done before in music but would later be utilized, and popularized, by artists like the Beatles. Namely, the use of overdubbed vocals, which is basically when an artist listens to an existing recorded performance and records a new performance simultaneously alongside it. In the case of Ilene Woods, it was for the song “Sing Sweet Nightingale,” which is a good song but with a horrendous start considering we have to subject our ears to the likes of her stepsisters brutalizing the song.

Overall, I’d give Cinderella a good five out of five stars. It’s a movie for all ages and one that if nothing else, proves that hope and kindness are one of the most powerful forces in all the world. For without either, how else can one’s dreams come true?

Good morning, young prince…

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BAMBI


Directed By:
David Hand (Supervising)
Produced By: Walt Disney
Based On: Bambi, a Life in the Woods by Felix Salten (1923)
Premiered On:
August 21, 1942
Distribution By:
RKO Radio Pictures

A film like no other in most of Disney’s Animated Feature Films, Bambi was a film that was, not surprisingly mind you, panned by critics simply for the fact that it was a huge opposite to what Disney was famous for at the time. Far from a fantastical and even cartoony storyline, Bambi is the tale of a young white-tailed deer named Bambi and his life in the Forest. However, Bambi is no mere baby deer but the young heir to the Great Prince of the Forest, the oldest and wisest of the deer who protects the forests and its inhabitants.

Bambi’s childhood is carefree and fun, especially in the company of his rabbit friend Thumper, who helps to teach Bambi to speak and walk, and a bashful skunk Bambi names Flower. However, the young prince’s happy times come to a swift and tragic end as winter comes and with it the one and only creature that all animals fear, Man. Though Bambi survives the brief brush of Man, his mother… does not. Taking pity on the young buck, the Great Prince breaks the ancient tradition of the deer and takes Bambi with him and raises him on his own.

Times passes and it’s in the opening buds of spring where we see Bambi, Thumper, and Flower as young adults whom are warned of the dangers of “twitterpation” by Friend Owl. Twitterpation being the old bird’s rather unique, if not on the nose, term towards lovey-dovey affections that overcome most animals during this time of year. The three scoff at the idea and meet it with scorn but one by one, they each fall head over paws in love and though Bambi stays strong, he finds himself totally and utterly twitterpated with a doe named Faline, whom he had known as a fawn.

Unfortunately for Bambi, Faline’s affections are also wanted by another buck by the name of Ronno, whom attempts to try and drive Faline away from Bambi. Having none of it, Bambi fights and successfully defeats. However, just as before with his mother, tragedy strikes the forest once again as a wildfire is accidentally started by a group of hunters and though Bambi is warned and guided by his father, he and Faline are separated during it.

Thankfully, Bambi manages to not only find Faline but rescues her just in the neck of time from a pack of hunting dogs. He leads her to safety of a riverbank where most of the animals have already gathered. The following spring shows that, though damaged, the forest and life itself continues as Faline gives birth to not one but two new heirs to the forest as, from afar, Bambi watches on with pride.

In a fashion, I can understand why this film was initially not well received by critics when it was first released. It had broken a lot of the standard themes that were set by Disney’s earlier films. There are absolutely no cartoony qualities to the animation in any form as all the animals were animated to be as realistic as possible.

The few songs in the film are more background music than actual singing in the film itself. Admittedly the song “Little April Shower,” is rather artistic as a scene of how animals take shelter from the rain and is easily the most recognized in the lot. However, the song “A Gay Little Song of Spring” is still credited as an example of trying to turn a dark and serious moment around in films, a technique that has been done again since in Disney films as well.

Even the story itself was disliked for the fact that it had no fantastical elements despite the fact that the book from which it was based was acclaimed for its realism. Speaking of the Austrian novel, there are a few major differences between it and the film.

Some major scenes that are in the book were left out in the film though this could likely be blamed on the financial difficulty Disney was facing at the time with the poor reception of Dumbo and Fantasia. In all, twelve minutes of the film had been cut before final animation was complete and considering how much can happen in just a single minute…

The biggest difference between the book and film though is the lack of both Thumper and Flower as companions to Bambi. If anything, the book has far more deer, both young and old, that Bambi meets and learns from, including a deer that was rescued and raised by humans. Either way, both the book and the film are considered to be one of the first of the “environmental” types of story, warning those of the dangers that can be wrought both by intention and by accident.

Overall, I give Bambi four out of five stars. The fun and carefree childhood of Bambi is just as entertaining to watch then as it is now and the epic battle and flight as an adult are just the same. It’s a great film to watch young and old but I do stress the fact that one should have an adequate amount of tissues on hand for those who’ve never seen the film for themselves. Trust me, it’s needed.

The ninth wonder of the universe…

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DUMBO


Directed By:
Ben Sharpsteen (Supervising)
Produced By: Walt Disney
Based On: “Dumbo, the Flying Elephant” by Helen Aberson (1939)
Premiered On:
October 31, 1941
Distribution By:
RKO Radio Pictures

Likely one of the most recognized of the Disney Animated Feature Films, Dumbo is the story of a young elephant, named Jumbo Jr. by his mother, who is cruelly renamed as Dumbo due to the fact that he has extremely large ears. By extremely large I mean each ear is easily bigger than he is overall. Thankfully, he finds a find in one Timothy Q. Mouse, who tries his best to bolster the baby elephant’s confidence despite all of the hardships thrown his way.

Hardships such as having his mother taken from him when she acted in his defense when a group of boys started tormenting him, the other elephants outright shunning him, and the ringmaster making Dumbo to play the part of a clown in a circus act that would have PETA positively howling for blood.

Fortunately for our titular elephant, salvation comes to him the morning following a immense mind-screwing sequence born from partaking in too much alcohol. Literally and figuratively I think too. I don’t mean to step atop a soapbox here but really, the whole sequence of “Pink Elephants” is just so flipping weird and disturbing that even as a child I couldn’t stomach watching it all from beginning to end. I’d either close my eyes tight to it or outright run from the room and this is coming from the same kid who watched The Black Cauldron without so much as batting an eye.

Anyway, Dumbo and Timothy find themselves waking up in a tree to a flock of crows who can’t help themselves from poking a little fun at the pair, particularly when Timothy comes to the astonishing conclusion that Dumbo, in his drunken sleepy stupor, flown up into the branches of the tree. After a proper dressing down from Timothy, the crows try to bolster Dumbo’s confidence enough to get him to fly by way of a “magic feather,” which does the trick.

Unfortunately, during another performance at the circus, Dumbo looses the feather and his confidence with it until Timothy manages to convince him to try to fly without it and just in time too. Following a spectacular airshow, Dumbo becomes an international celebrity and thus he, and his mother, live happily ever after.

Overall, Dumbo is film that is well and truly aimed towards children and while it can definitely be enjoyed as an adult too, it’s not one that I imagine could be watched time and time again. It’s a cute film with an even cuter story of acceptance and confidence but… Well, let it is a film based on a children’s toy after all but then, I’m getting a bit ahead of myself now aren’t I? Let me speak first of the film’s most prominent of songs first before I go into its origins.

While the song “Baby Mine” is truly the most heartfelt of songs, it’s far too much a lullaby to me to truly enjoy. Meaning that I can’t listen to it without falling asleep near the end really but hey, at least I’m honest in that regard. No, the song that well and truly encompasses this movie is “When I See an Elephant Fly.” Aside from the song all but describing the sheer impossibility of a flying elephant, I find the wordplay throughout the song to be rather fun. Really, it would make for some interesting sights wouldn’t it?

As to the original source material for the film, now there’s an interesting story to be had there. Rather than a fairy tale or a popular book, the idea was born from something of a children’s toy at the time, or what would have been at any rate. A “Roll-a-Book,” which is exactly as it sounds with its closest relation being a panorama.

In point of fact, the device was still a prototype that had been brought to Walt Disney’s attention by his then head of merchandising. While Mr. Disney didn’t care much for the toy itself he did greatly enjoy the story, which was all of eight illustrations and a few scant sentences long.

Though the original prototype never went to shelves and little more than the blueprints and the original cover can be found of it, the one thing that can be said with absolute certainty is one extremely minor difference between it and the film. Namely that the role of Dumbo’s little buddy Timothy was a robin and not a mouse but in the grand scheme of major alterations that barely ranks a one.

Overall, I’d give Dumbo a good four out of five stars. Again, it’s far from being a bad movie and while it’s certainly a good one, it’s not truly one that I could say is worth watching time and time again. Definitely one to watch with the kids but beyond that… Not particularly no.

When you wish upon a star…

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PINOCCHIO


Directed By:
Ben Sharpsteen & Hamilton Luske (Supervising)
Produced By: Walt Disney
Based On: The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi (1883)
Premiered On:
February 9, 1940
Distribution By:
RKO Radio Pictures

The story of Pinocchio is one that is arguably one of the more reclusive amongst the original Disney films insomuch that it is not Pinocchio himself but rather his co-star that has achieved worldwide renown several times over. I suppose that one of the main reasons this is so is strictly for the fact that despite being one of the earlier Disney animated films and one that most children almost instantly recognize, Pinocchio is one of the rarely seen Disney films on television or even DVD. For despite how the story goes, Pinocchio is a film that does toe the line for childhood appropriateness in our modern era whence compared to what was the common standard back when it was first released.

Our tale begins with the true star of the show, one Jiminy Cricket, who after finishing the film’s opening song, narrates the story to us of a man named Geppetto and the little wooden puppet he names Pinocchio. Before going to bed, Geppetto wishes upon a star that Pinocchio may become a real boy, a real son, to him and in the night, his wish is granted by the Blue Fairy though only a small portion of it. For though she brings Pinocchio to life, she does not immediately turn him into a real boy. Oh no, Pinocchio has to earn the right to be flesh and blood by proving that he can be brave, truthful, and unselfish. She even goes so far as to assign Jiminy Cricket the task of being the boy’s conscience, a task that proves far more trouble than its worth even at the best of times.

Pinocchio, being all of a day old, is unbelievably naïve and is easily led astray not once but twice by the likes of the fox named Honest John and his mute feline compatriot Gideon. The first time, the two trick Pinocchio into skipping school and going into the life of entertainment by way of the traveling puppeteer Stromboli. At first, the life of entertaining the masses appeals to Pinocchio but the moment he tries to go home, Stromboli snatches him up and locks him into a birdcage. Though Jiminy tries to free him, it’s the Blue Fairy who comes to the rescue once more though she questions Pinocchio as to how he got there.

This leads to one of the more funnier moments in the film when Pinocchio tries, and fails rather spectacularly, at lying as each lie he makes causes his nose to grow and even sprout out a birds’ nest. Though Jiminy convinces the Blue Fairy to give Pinocchio another chance, she warns that a boy who won’t boy might as well be made of wood.

Unfortunately, as I’ve said previously, Pinocchio once more runs into the dastardly pair who tricks him into going on a vacation to a place known simply as Pleasure Island. Seeing as I’ve spoken more than my fair share of the Coachman and what he does, I’ll skip ahead a bit to the climax of the film, namely the monstrous whale aptly named Monstro, who has swallowed Geppetto when the poor man was out searching for Pinocchio.

The little puppet manages to reunite with his father and together the two come up with a daring plan to escape the ginormous whale. The plan succeeds but at the cost of Pinocchio’s life. Returned home and laid upon the bed he had yet to sleep upon himself, Geppetto and company mourn for the little puppet only to find themselves celebrating the life of a newly born boy.

The Blue Fairy, having found Pinocchio to be brave, truthful, and unselfish, had made him into a real boy and bestows upon Jiminy Cricket a solid gold medal declaring him an official conscience to all whom have the ears to listen and a mind to reason.

As I’ve said previously, this is not entirely a film for really young audiences. Aside from the horrific imagery of watching a boy being turned into a donkey there are a few choice words and imagery that while not inherently bad back in the day… Are not quite so nowadays. While it was a common phrase, the term “jackass” is now more of a cussing word than an actual reference to donkeys and/or mules. That and… well, let me speak of the song that I feel best represents the film overall.

See, as popular as the song “When You Wish Upon a Star” is, I’ve found that song in particular is more befitting of Disney as a whole rather than just this film. In all honesty, it’s the one and only song that immediately comes to mind whenever I think of such places as the Magic Kingdom or Disneyland and, more often than not, it is the very song that they place during most of their commercials too.

As such, my own personal choice for the song that best describes Pinocchio is his own song, “I’ve Got No Strings On Me.” Aside from being made into a far too creepily sung rendition in a recent superhero film, the song does sum up everything that Pinocchio is and then some, particularly in his attempts at being a good, little boy and his failings at this.

And as you can see there are a few moments, particularly the scene with the dancing puppets near the end, where some parents/adults would argue it to be a bit… promiscuous. Me, myself, personally however, I’m afraid that whole scene flew right over my head as a kid as I’m sure it will for most kids nowadays too. In this early time of a new century, children are far more desensitized to these sorts of things with most modern cartoons and television shows making light of things that back in the time of Pinocchio would be considered as scandalous. If I recall correctly, the idea of a television show having a married couple in the same bed was one such example.

More to the point, Jiminy’s reaction to the can-can puppets will forever be one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen the little cricket do, bar none.

As to the differences between the film and the original book… I shan’t lie, there’s quite a lot of differences mainly for the fact that Pinocchio, at least in the book mind you, is far more trouble than he’s worth. On his first moment of life, Pinocchio not only runs out on Geppetto but acts in such a way that a Carbiniere, the military police of Italy, thinks him an abused child and has Geppetto arrested. That’s just one of the many differences mind you and one of the more tamed ones to boot. Honest John and Gideon for example not only attempt to rob Pinocchio in the original story, but actually try to hang him via noose after Pinocchio manages to bite off Gideon’s paw.

Heck, even Pinocchio’s happily ever after is a bit dark as rather than having his puppet body be turned into a real boy, his real body materializes on a nearby bed where he wakes up to find his original puppet body left behind, lying lifelessly on a chair. That’s… so unbelievably creepy. I mean, I’m glad for Pinocchio and all but what would you do with the puppet body at that point considering all that it went through and all that it endured? Bury it somewhere far and away? Burn it and scatter the ashes to the four winds? I don’t know and frankly, I don’t want to.

Now, I’m sure a good many of you are thinking to yourselves ah, well, that can’t possibly get any worse than that can it? Oh no, it most certainly can, my dear readers. For you see, I had skipped ahead a bit in the original story, bypassing one scene in particular that well and truly disturbs me more than any other. On the night of Geppetto’s arrest, Pinocchio returns home and there he accidentally kills a certain talking cricket. A certain talking cricket whose spirit then continues to haunt Pinocchio throughout the rest of his adventures, offering advice and warning whenever possible.

… Yeah, so moving on to happier things. For all the magic that is Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket, I can’t really give this film anything more than three out of five stars at best. It’s not a bad story and it’s certainly one worth watching at least once, but it isn’t one I’d consider putting atop a golden pedestal by any means.

Once there was a princess…

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SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS


Directed By:
David Hand, William Cottrell, Wilfred Jackson, Larry Morey, Perce Pearce, & Ben Sharpsteen
Produced By: Walt Disney
Based On: “Snow White” by the Brothers Grimm (1812)
Premiered On:
February 4, 1938
Distribution By:
RKO Radio Pictures

There are few who have not heard the story of Snow White and fewer still who have not, at least once in their lifetime, seen the film that well and truly started it all for mainstream animation as a whole. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is the story of the titular princess Snow White whose mother, or step-mother as was done in the film, learns has become “the fairest in all the land” and so sets her huntsman to kill Snow White and to bring back her heart as proof.

The huntsman, a kindly soul, could not bring himself to kill an innocent girl and bade Snow White to run and never look back. The young princess would eventually find refuge in the cottage of the seven dwarfs and, for a time, she would become something of a mother hen and loving daughter to the seven dwarfs, some more so than others.

For though the dwarfs are masterful miners, finding and digging up all manner of jewels and gems with ease, not a single one of them are able to cook or clean in a satisfactory manner. So while they work at the mine during the day, Snow White upkeeps the small cottage, oftentimes with the aid of her animal friends, and at night they celebrate in song and dance. However, the Queen soon learns of the huntsman’s deceit and so decides to handle matters personally by transforming herself into a wicked, old hag and creating an apple poisoned with “Sleeping Death” a curse that can only be broken by “love’s first kiss.”

Despite this horrendous flaw of essentially putting her stepdaughter into a coma, the Queen believes that the dwarves will unknowingly bury Snow White alive and so goes to their cottage. Despite her disguise, the animals instantly recognize the Queen for who she is and quickly run off to fetch the dwarfs but they return too late. The Queen had already tricked Snow White into taking a bite of her “wishing apple” and makes for her escape with the dwarfs hot in pursuit. They manage to corner her on a cliff and though she tries to roll a boulder down over them, a bolt of lightning tears the ground from under her feet, causing the witch to fall down to her supposed death.

Returning to their cottage, the dwarfs all agree that to bury Snow White out of sight in the ground is something that none of them can do, they craft a beautiful glass coffin to place her in and visit her every day as they go to and from their mine for the next year, with the forest animals keeping watch over her day and night. It’s not until a certain prince whom Snow White had met previously, delivers a farewell kiss to her, thus breaking the curse.

And they all lived happily ever after.

As for me, I would never, not ever, be able to look at trees the same way for most of my early childhood. Say what you will of the whimsy and romantic heart of Snow White, the fun and fancy of the dwarfs, but when this film wanted to get scary, it skipped that and dove right into terrifying. Though a short and brief moment in the film, Snow White’s run through the “haunted forest” was scary for me when I was toddler and the ride at the Magic Kingdom only worsened it for me. No matter how many times I went on it or how old I was, I never once opened my eyes during that part of the ride.

Yet this all pales in comparison to one of the more truly horrifying moments in the film when the Wicked Queen, or Grimhilde as she’s named in other media, turns herself into a hag. Specifically, the ingredients that she uses such as mummy dust to make her old, the black of night to shroud her, a old hag’s cackle to age her voice, a scream of fright to whiten her hair, a blast of wind to fan her hatred, and a thunderbolt to mix it well.

Magical transformation aside, you have to give Grimhilde credit, she went above and beyond for her disguise but again I can’t help but notice one element in particular. “A blast of wind to fan my hate…” Why would the disguise to be an old peddler call for such a thing? Unfortunately, I have long since given my opinions on Grimhilde so I’ll leave that well alone and move on to the more delightful portions of the film, namely the songs.

Is this a movie for kids of all ages? Eh, I’d say that’s really dependent on said child’s tolerance towards scary moments like the aforementioned scenes. Even Walt Disney himself admitted that he had made Grimhilde a far more frightening character than he intended and made it a point to never make one as frightening as her. Bar one living representation of Evil dwelling within the heart of a mountain, I’d say he succeeded. It’s one of the main reasons why a lot of Disney Villains are somewhat comical or have an overbearingly bad weakness to them such as overbearing arrogance or hilariously short tempers.

Moving on to the music, I’ll admit that choosing one song in particular was extremely tough. There’s hardly a song in this film that anyone hasn’t heard at least once and truly, depending on one’s mood, any song can best fit the film as a whole. Some songs weren’t even really songs in themselves with full lyrics but the animation that accompanied the music more than made up for it. Songs like “Whistle While You Work” or “The Dwarf’s Bathing Song” where it was more humming, whistling, and other such musical tones than outright singing. Regardless, my personal favorite song in the film is the popular “Heigh Ho” as sung by the Dwarf Chorus.

Honestly, it was a true coin toss between this song and “The Silly Song” as both these songs do a great job of showing off the dwarf’s distinct personalities. Though one cannot guess each of the dwarfs by name straight away, the antics and subtle motions as they sing certainly. Dopey and Grumpy being the easiest amongst them by far in my opinion with Sleepy being a close second because lets face it, we’ve all been that and more early in the morning.

Jests aside, the main reason I chose this song, aside from the coin toss of course, is simply for the fact that it is a song that most anyone can sing with ease and without ever having watched the film as a whole. While it’s not a song that’s commonly played on the radio or sung anew by modern singers, it’s still one that most can at least hum along with if not outright sing for themselves, particularly after a long day at work.

As to the difference between the film and the original story, there are two major differences to note overall. The first comes from Grimhilde’s attempt at Snow White’s life. See, contrary to the film, Grimhilde did not just go straight to the poisoned apple trick but had tried two other devices to kill Snow White.

The first was a laced bodice that she tied so tightly upon Snow White that she fainted from lack of oxygen and would have died had the dwarfs not returned in time. The second was a poisoned comb that only worked so long as the comb was in Snow White’s hair so she managed to survive that. Even the poisoned apple trick almost failed simply for the fact that Snow White had grown cautious of these mysterious peddler women flocking by and only took a bite herself when the disguised Queen ate the non-poisoned side of the apple.

While these scenes were considered and even sketched out, there were ultimately dropped for time and for a better flow of the story because honestly? Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me, but by number three it’s just getting boring. Yet there was one other moment in particular that was heavily altered from the original story, that being Grimhilde’s death.

In the original Grimm’s fairytale, the Queen had been invited to Snow White’s wedding and though the magic mirror told her that this new queen was fairer than she, she went anyway despite her suspicions. As punishment for her many attempts at murdering her daughter, and yes Snow White was her own flesh and blood in the original story rather than a step-daughter, the prince bade a pair of glowing red-hot iron shoes to be placed before the Queen and she was forced to don them and dance in them until she eventually dropped dead.

… Wow.

Just… Wow.

There are times that I hear people complain of Walt Disney’s changing the classic fairy tales, and at times I cannot help but agree but most often than not, I can’t help but agree with him. Walt Disney said once that he’ll never patronize children, won’t play down a story though he may temper it. Frankly, I’m glad to have seen the Queen come to an end by her own folly rather than because of a justice system that punished her with such severity, especially in the eyes of Snow White, arguably the kindest and most innocent of all the Disney Princesses bar none.

Overall… A solid ten out of five stars. Why? Because say what you will of the story, the animation, and even the music, this film and this film alone is the reason there is such a thing as animation, that the name of Disney, both the man and the company, are a forever etched in the annals of human history. For though the man himself said it all started with a mouse, it really began with a young princess, a wicked queen, and seven dwarfs.

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