The Disney Project

I'm doing something crazy. I am watching every Disney movie, in order of its release. Then I'm going to talk about here, on this page. I will be constantly updating as I watch them all. I know what you're thinking...WHY? Well to that I say WHY NOT!? It sounds like fun. There are a ton of Disney movies I haven't seen and I just think it would be awesome to say that I've done it. So, off we go!

1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Released: December 21, 1937
Watched: April 27, 2014
Run Time: 83 minutes
Seen Before: Yes
Own: VHS
Rating: 3.5 stars
Thoughts: My first thought is isn't the plural of dwarf, dwarves, not dwarfs? Snow White has never been my favorite Disney movie. I think part of that is that Snow White's voice is SO ANNOYING! Seriously, doesn't she sound like Lina Lamont from Singin' in the Rain? I CAN'T STAND IT! *Bonus points if you read that in your mind in Lina Lamont's voice.

While, I'm not in love with the movie, I am grateful for its existence. This movie was a huge deal. Walt and his team took a big risk in making a full length animated film. No one thought it would be a success. Had they been right, Walt's company most likely would have died out, and the happiest place on Earth, would not exist. So thankfully people, other than myself, liked this movie so that I could have the awesome job I do. Fun fact - Not only did Walt win an Oscar for Snow White, he also got seven additional mini Oscars for the film as well!

This is the most ridiculous example of a princess meeting/falling in love with/marrying someone they just met. I mean honestly! She doesn't even know the dude's name! What's up with that!? The animals in the movie are pretty adorable, but let's be honest, Dopey is the best part. Thank goodness he's in the movie, or it would really suck. Last thought: I don't know if Jiminy Cricket was a common phrase of exclamation back in the day, or if Walt was just foreshadowing, but I liked that little moment when the dwarfs (dwarves?) yelled Jiminy Cricket! Knowing Walt was a sly son of a gun, my guess is that he put that in there on purpose...which leads us to:

2. Pinocchio

Released: February 7, 1940
Watched: April 27, 2014
Run Time: 88 minutes
Seen Before: Yes, but a very long time ago
Own: No, watched online
Rating: 3 stars
Thoughts: It was almost like I was watching this for the first time because it has been so long since I've seen it. First of all, they totally say jack ass in this movie which was unexpected and awesome. Second, Figaro is the cutest animated cat and it made me really miss my cat. :( Third, this movie is weird, like beyond Alice in Wonderland, weird...

At first things are relatively normal, for a Disney movie. The blue fairy and Jiminy Cricket, I can accept, but the fox guy and the cat? Why are they a fox and a cat who can talk when every other animal in the movie can't? Figaro, Cleo, Monstro, the donkeys, etc...none of them can talk. It just doesn't seem very consistent. I guess I don't understand why that was necessary when all the other villains in the movie are human. 

Now I get the Stromboni part, that makes sense, but what the heck is which the Pleasure Island part? How does he turn the boys into donkeys and why? What does he do with them afterward? What does it get him? How come Pinocchio never fully turned into a donkey? I don't get it. There are holes in the story. And how in the world did Gepetto end up in the whale? I honestly don't think he jumped in the ocean to search for Pinocchio. I guess it's possible he did, but I really don't see that happening, particularly not with Cleo and Figaro with him. Plus Jiminy is like the worst conscience ever. It's no wonder Pinocchio got into so much trouble. Overall, for an inconsistent plot line and a really cute cat, this gets three stars.

3. Fantasia

Released: November 13, 1940
Watched: April 29, 2014
Run Time: 126 minutes
Seen Before: Yes
Own: DVD
Rating: 5 stars
Thoughts: Some people find it difficult to pick a favorite Disney movie, for me I can easily tell you my top five. All of them were ones I would watch over and over as a child. Back then, I couldn't explain to you why I loved them so much. Now, I will do my best to explain it. Fantasia is my number three.

It doesn't make sense for a child to love this movie. I mean, I know it's Disney, but it just seems like it's geared more towards an older audience. It's hard to keep a kid's attention for very long and this film is all music and no dialogue. I am sure if I sat my niece and nephews down to watch this movie they would only last five minutes before wanting to do something else. However, when I was little, this movie captivated me. I honestly don't know why, but watching it again, I can begin to comprehend why. 

Music is one of the most powerful forces on Earth. Music has been an integral part of my life for as long as I can remember. While I love listening to music and singing it, my favorite thing to do is combine music with other forms of art. I love creating the perfect video/slideshow paired with the perfect background music. I love designing the perfect lights in perfect timing with a beautiful piece of music. I love watching dancers take a piece of music and make it something bigger and better than its original form. This is truly magical to me.

This is what Fantasia is all about. Disney animators took beautiful pieces of music and made them more beautiful with their art. When I was in college there were three main students studying lighting design. I remember having a discussion with my mentor about how even if he didn't know who designed each piece, he could tell whose was whose. We each had our own unique style. One of us was spontaneous, making bold choices based and throwing splashes of color onto the blank canvas for fun. One of us was emotional, taking the feelings evoked from the piece and expressing those feelings through light. One of us was musical, taking note of distinct changes in the music and timing the cues to exact synchronization. Guess which one I was?

Maybe Fantasia was my first exposure to art set to music and set the course for my signature in lighting design. I have always wanted to design for concerts, that's my dream, but I also love lighting for dance and musicals. Straight plays, however, are much more of a challenge because they tend to bore me. I am glad I loved Fantasia as a kid. I think it gave me an appreciation for higher culture. I asked for Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 for Christmas six years straight before it finally came out on DVD. I was so excited when I opened that gift! To this day I can't explain to you the feelings Fantasia brings to me, but I don't need to. I just like to sit back and enjoy the art.

4. The Reluctant Dragon

Released: June 27, 1941
Watched: May 1, 2014
Run Time: 74 minutes
Seen Before: No
Own: No, watched online
Rating: 2 stars
Thoughts: This was probably really cool back in 1941. A walk through the Disney studios is fascinating; however, when you watch this in 2014 100% of the technology used is not being used anymore. Makes for rather boring watching. Plus the plot is supposed to be funny, but it's mostly just stupid. The only reason it gets 2 stars instead of 1 is for the tiny animated portion which was sort of cute.

5. Dumbo

Released: October 31, 1941
Watched: June 5, 2014
Run Time: 64 minutes
Seen Before: Yes
Own: No, watched on Netflix
Rating: 3 stars
Thoughts: I am really stuck in the middle on Dumbo. On the one hand I feel like it puts forth a great point that we should never judge anyone on their appearance but get to know the real person inside. On the other hand, the drunk elephant dancing scene really freaks me out. I think the story of Dumbo is actually pretty good. Plot line is solid. What is not solid is the freaking diction! It's one thing when you have to put subtitles on for Lord of the Rings because you can't understand what the heck Tree Beard is saying. One should not have to put subtitles on for Dumbo, okay? Half the time Timothy is talking to fast or too mumbly to understand. And don't even get me started on the singing crows!

I think I don't love Dumbo as much as other Disney classics because it's just so sad! Almost the entire movie is sad except for the last 5 minutes. The "Baby of Mine" scene is just too much for my fragile heart to handle, okay!?

6. Bambi

Released: August 9, 1942
Watched: June 6, 2014
Run Time: 70 minutes
Seen Before: Yes
Own: VHS, watched online
Rating: 3.5 stars
Thoughts: Speaking of sad Disney movies...I am on the fence with Bambi too. I half like it, half don't. There are a plethora of adorable moments in this one, along with tragic moments. Overall, what I take away from Bambi is that "man" ruins everything. I could have told you that! Overall I like Bambi, and it rates a little higher than Dumbo for diction and a very clear message. Too bad nobody paid attention to Walt's message. Maybe our Earth wouldn't be in such dire circumstances if they had.

7. Saludos Amigos

Released: August 24, 1942
Watched: June 10, 2014
Run Time: 42 minutes
Seen Before: No
Own: No, watched online
Rating: 2.5 stars
Thoughts: It was interesting to watch the prequel to The Three Cabelleros. It was an interesting concept for sure, but I almost wish they would have just left out the live action bits with the animators traveling and just told us the animated stories. Generally speaking I like a clear cut story line and not just a bunch of stories all thrown together and this is no exception. Most of the animated sequences were just okay to me. The one that really stuck out was the Watercolor of Brazil sequence which I though was beautifully constructed. Overall, not as good as the sequel which is soon to come, but it's a decent enough beginning.

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