Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Ranting Tale: Why I Have Mixed Feelings About the "New" Disney

The other day, my husband Kyle and I started watching the new Disney film, "Frozen".  We made it about 15 minutes in when we both decided we hated the amount of singing going on, so we turned it off.

This made me think about something I often think about these days; how much I miss hand-drawn animation.  I know some people may get very angry at what I have to say about this, but it's my blog so I'm going to put my personal opinion out there: I don't really like most of the "new", computer-animated Disney films. I am saddened by a few things: the loss of hand-drawn animation, the desire to make these feature animations look more realistic, and the weird likenesses of the typical new Disney heroes and heroines.

Now, Disney "officially" did away with their hand-drawn department in April, 2013--so, fairly recently. They decided they are not going to produce hand-drawn animation anymore, so there was no need.  

Now, let me just lay the backstory for my feelings on the matter.  I definitely loved Disney as a kid. My favorite film was "Sword in the Stone", very loosely based on the story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. I laughed with King Louie in "The Jungle Book", I cried with the characters in "The Fox and the Hound".  I felt enlightened by James Earl Jones' character, Mufasa, in The Lion King. I laughed hysterically at Robin Williams as the Genie in Aladdin. I always felt that each of those characters was so unique. Being in a hand-drawn cartoon world really transported me to a world that was not my own. 

While I have cognitive dissonance about some terrible messages in some of these films, such as the idea that getting married is the ultimate goal in life and the only thing that will make you happy (i.e. all stories involving Disney princesses), the literally ridiculous messages (such as the original Little Mermaid cover), and the racist scenes in Peter Pan, I still loved the hand-drawn animation. There was something particularly magical about the beauty of the artistry that I loved. Have I made that clear yet?
Which brings me to my next gripe--the desire to make the movies look 3D and more realistic. For example, compare this picture of water from "The Lion King" to a picture from Disney's newest feature film, "Frozen".



Which one looks more realistic? Which one do you find more compelling, more beautiful? Why? 

I seriously am interested in your answer to these questions. For me, it's definitely the top picture from "The Lion King". It's beautiful, interesting, and...well, once again, magical. I personally want to watch a cartoon to get away from realism.  In a world of constant technology, video games, and 3D/4D films, cartoon/animated films should, in my humble opinion, take us away from all of that instead of coexist with it. When I watch a cartoon, I want a movie that takes me completely out of this realm.  So why is it that animators are trying so hard to make things look more realistic? If I wanted to watch a film that was real, I'd turn on a film that has real people in it, and real settings. Most of those films are digitized to a certain extent, anyway.

Lastly, I'm weirded out by so many Disney heroines looking slightly like Precious Moments--pretty much all the same. Giant eyes, tiny noses, tiny mouths, heart-shaped faces. Just look at all of these women (okay, and some men/boys, too):



 

Even Toy Story, but she was an actual toy in the story, so she has kind of an excuse...kind of...

...why?

Okay, so before people start jumping all over me and telling me that there's artistry involved in the "new" animation, blahblahblah, let me just say, for all of my ranting...I get it. Honestly, I know I have no legitimate reasons except for personal preference to back this up.

I do appreciate all of the artistry that goes into making computer animated films. I do appreciate that Disney is trying new and innovative things, especially when it comes to plots...I haven't seen Brave, but I understand it was a female lead with no love interest, which makes it a pretty awesome new change. There was actually also a film I liked--Ratatouille; I thought the plot was good. So, even I may contradict myself once in a while...

Still and all, at the end of the day, it's sad to me that hand-drawn animation is no longer truly appreciated. I mourn with its loss. That is all.