So, back in December of 2019 — which, by my count, was about six thousand years ago — I set out a few Pop Culture themed challenges for myself to complete in this new decade. One of them was to watch all of the Walt Disney Animated Classics that had a theatrical release — so, yes to Aladdin, but no to either sequel and no to the live-action remake.
As of March 20, 2020, the state of California is on stay-home orders to help try and flatten the curve of the SARS-CoV-2 (aka COVID-19 aka novel coronavirus) pandemic that is currently ravaging the globe.
We’re trying to make the best of the situation, and one way we’re doing that is by picking up this challenge! We decided to watch one Disney Animated Classic per day, in order of theatrical release, for as long as the stay-home orders are in effect.
Here’s what we’ve watched so far:
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
It should not be surprising that a film from 1937 doesn’t age well, but…oooof. Not in terms of quality of animation — that’s actually stellar! The scene when Snow is singing into the wishing well and The Prince joins her? Those water ripples? BEAUTIFUL! Just…the plot. You know.
Look, let’s just assume that for a long, long while, every description I write about these should begin with “Oooof, that didn’t age well.” Pinocchio is rife with issues as well, but one happy surprise is that I forgot how amazing the cat is! Figaro is the cutest and has some of the best reactions.
Exceptionally problematic movie, party of one? Oh, hi, Dumbo! I could write for a very long time about all of the problems with Dumbo, but many other people smarter than I have already done so. I encourage you to Google some of the scholarly work on the subject. I will say that I was glad to see the “outdated cultural depictions” warning, though I do agree with critics that it’s absolutely not strong enough. sigh.
The one good thing? Dumbo (the character) is super cute. I mean, look at that .gif. Let’s just watch .gifs.
Of our viewings so far, Bambi is the first one I don’t have any real complaints about! I mean, it portrays humans as terrible but…I mean, they got that right. We ruin nature. We’re (collectively) the worst.
The one thing that surprised me about Bambi was how much I have over-exaggerated parts in my mind and how many other things I forgot. I mean, yes, I teared up when his mother was shot, but I didn’t sob like I was expecting to…maybe because it was over so quickly? Maybe because it immediately transitions into this weird pubescent moment where the three dude-bro-animal friends all bail on one another for girlfriends?
The scene that actually caused me to shed real tears was when “man has returned to the forest” for a second time (to cause even more pain and destruction because, again, humans are the worst) and there’s an exceptionally anxious quail who is hiding in the tall grass. All of the other quails are trying to get her to calm down and stay hidden, but she gets too scared and takes off in flight…only to be shot dead. This is actually the only shooting death we see on screen, and yes, it wrecked me.
Another interesting thing about Bambi — if you haven’t watched it in a while, and you have watched The Lion King a bunch (or at least know many of the visuals well), go watch them again. There are some story similarities, yes, but even more-so, there are a ton of visual similarities. Specifically keep an eye out for things in Bambi that resemble Simba’s birth, Pride Rock, the wildebeest stampede, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” the Hyenas attacking Scar on the cliff, and the end. I can’t believe there were that many that we picked up on that it wasn’t intentional… Again, people other than me have already done the work, so check this out for more.
NEXT UP: Cinderella
Today is Day 5 of the complete “Stay at Home” order (but actually day…seven or eight? for us actually staying 100% home), so we’ll be watching Disney’s fifth theatrical release: Cinderella.
Stay tuned for another update in a few movies as to how we’re progressing!
NOTE: There were a few other Disney theatrical releases sprinkled in here, but they were known as “animated packages” — basically, a series of short films that aired together. We’re not including those on our watch through.