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Getting animated about Disney

March 31, 2010

The year of the millenium marked an important event in film history and, more specifically, animation history. It was the beginning of the end of the Disney Renaissance. The Disney Renaissance took place over the course of a decade from the 1980s to the 1990s. The upcoming film Waking Sleeping Beauty documents this period of time, when people were enchanted by the magic of the now classic Disney animations. For Burtonites, this film provides some rare footage of a young Tim Burton.

With the decline in box office success of their hand-drawn 2D animated films, the year 2000 is seen as a time when Disney’s moment in the sun was finally overshadowed by the onslaught of  more modern animation. The acquisition of Pixar was seen as reinforcing this shift in film-making. Some say that the decline was not as a direct result of the animation, but of the pattern of poor-storytelling which had emerged at the studios.

The Disney disappointment continued for a string of films, including Home on the Range (In fact, many people have not even heard of this 2004 animation). It was even announced that this would be their last 2D-traditional animated film, so it was with some surprise, albeit pleasant, that The Princess and the Frog arrived on our movie screens. It was reminiscent of feature animations released during the Renaissance, with its beautifully hand-drawn animation and solid storyline. Although Disney is returning to the core of its existence with films like The Princess and the Frog, it is also embracing change by releasing films such as Alice in Wonderland which combine live action and animation.

The question now is whether the year 2000 really was Disney’s last breath or are we now in store for a Disney reformation? Walt Disney studios once captured the imagination of their willing audience with the return of commercially successful and critically acclaimed animated films based on fairy tales. Change was a key factor in their progression and at that time, they looked to the past for that change. Perhaps this is where the hope now lies for the future of the Studios, however this time they must look to the future and change to reflect the emergence of new technologies. If they can continue to incorporate these elements, then they might just have the right creative ingredients to achieve continued success for years to come. I, for one, am particularly keen to see their next hand-drawn surprise!

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. movienewsfirst permalink
    April 2, 2010 8:39 am

    Love the “retirement village” pic:)
    I love the hand drawn animations too, so would happily go see another!

  2. Darren permalink
    April 3, 2010 7:42 pm

    Disney have been down before (both in quality and financially), but they’ve always pulled them back up. Just as nobody remembers The Black Couldren from their childhood I doubt many will recall, as you said, Home on the Range. Still, I think they have a classic or two left in them.

    Maybe the tennies (is that what this decade is called?) will be as nice to them ad the nineties were (The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, for example, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame weren’t half-bad either).

  3. April 5, 2010 10:47 am

    @movienewsfirst Thanks 🙂 And me too – In fact, I read that they will be releasing an animated film called “Tangled” later this year. It’s basically Rapunzel under a gender-neutral name! Apparently the animation stlye for the film is inspired by this painting: http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/his/CoreArt/art/resources/frag_swing.jpg

  4. April 5, 2010 10:52 am

    @Darren I think this decade could definitely be another successful one for them. Animation-wise it looks promising already. And if they concentrate on clever marketing, they’ll soon be raking in the money!

  5. April 5, 2010 7:21 pm

    Where do you think the studio Ghibli films (Miyazaki in particular) fit into the autumn of the 2D lifespan?

    Saw Ponyo today, it was like rediscovering the wonder of Disney all over again, yet with Ghibli it feels more natural, more organic.

  6. April 5, 2010 8:29 pm

    Miyazaki is in a league of his own. The quality films will definitely endure. Apart from the visuals, the humour sets them apart, so I don’t see 3D making the 2D Ghibli extinct. Having said that, I suppose films like the Ghibli ones will always tip in and out of favour with the international mainstream, especially if a no edits policy is applied.

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