With the upcoming live action version of Beauty And The Beast opening next weekend, I wanted to revisit the 4 Disney films that are considered the start of the Disney Renaissance.
The Little Mermaid (1989). My family wasn’t much to go to the movies unless my brother and I begged my dad and cajoled my mom. If I unpack that I’d probably figure out the reason why I now go to the movies as much as I can. I didn’t see The Little Mermaid when it came out but I practically wore out my older brother’s VHS copy whenever I would watch my nephews. It’s not only one of my favorite Disney movies but it’s one of my favorite all-time movies. I found a parallel with Ariel watching the humans and wanting to be part of their world to the young kid reading in secret about the LGBT community and wanting to be part of that world. And, seriously, who doesn’t love Ursula?
Beauty And The Beast (1991). There are things that I either ignored/dismissed in my previous viewings that I couldn’t suspend this time around. If the Beast’s curse becomes permanent when the Beast turns 21 and he’s been cursed for 10 years then that means he was 11 when the witch cursed him. Who does that? Every 11 year old, prince or pauper, is going to be a little snarky and surly to an old woman showing up on their doorstep in the dead of night. And where was/is his parents? I have the cynicism of an adult when watching now. I still love the music though. Angela Lansbury singing the title track is a wonder. But, honestly, I don’t know how this film was nominated for Best Picture. It’s a good film but not good enough to be nominated as one of the top 5 best films of 1991.
Aladdin (1992). As an adult I identify with Aladdin. I often find myself singing the lyrics to “One Jump Ahead”. “One jump ahead of the breadline. One swing ahead of the sword” is the truth when I’m trying to adult. I think Aladdin holds up well. The story is still gripping and Jafar, especially after he gets the lamp, is downright frightful. Robin Williams is at top of his game voicing the Genie. My only disappointment was a homophobic joke tossed in.
The Lion King (1994). This is the only one of the Disney Renaissance era films I actually watched in the theater. I watched it with my cousin at the Grundy theater and cried when Mufusa died. I’d forgotten how dark The Lion King is. I didn’t enjoy it. I found it slow paced. In my memory I thought Rafiki was featured more but he barely shows up. The music is on point though because Elton John is timeless.