Thursday, September 29, 2011

Happy Birthday Flynn Rider!

Get ready. Here comes the smolder.
I just realized that today is Zachary Levi's birthday. No, I don't have it written in my calendar or anything creepy like that! But, it is kind of awesome that his birthday is exactly a week after mine. Just sayin.

I thought I'd celebrate since he is kind of the reason why my blog is called Disnerd Adventures. So, here is a collage of some of my favorite screen caps of Flynn Rider. I'm kind of loving the one where Maximus is chomping down on his thigh. Hilarious. 

Happy Birthday Zachary Levi/Flynn Rider! Yes, I know one of you is an actor I will never meet and the other is a fictional character with unusually large forearms and shoulders. But that doesn't stop me from addressing you directly as one person!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Disnographic of the Month - Princesses

As a Disnerd who also happens to be female, I think most people assume that what I love about Disney is the whole princess thing. Doesn't every girl want to be a princess so they can live happily ever after with Prince Charming? Well, as much as I love happy endings, I never grew up wishing I was Snow White, Cinderella or Ariel. Pink has never been my favorite color (it's blue, if you couldn't tell), and I'm not really into huge poofy dresses or tiaras. Don't get me wrong, I'm fairly girly in a lot of ways, but this isn't one of them. I am in no way saying that the princess thing is good or bad; it's just not me.

So, I just thought I would clear that up while also introducing to you the first Disnographic of the Month! (Clever, huh?)
In actuality, only 9 of the 51 films feature a princess character.
I would like to do more Disnographics on this blog but as the writing already takes up quite a bit of time, I think I can only commit to once a month for now. We'll see how it goes. :) Leave a comment if you've got ideas or suggestions for future Disnographics!

Monday, September 26, 2011

#5: Man... was in the forest.

Bambi, 1942
watched September 25, 2011

(c) Disney
Bambi is a quintessential 'coming of age' story--full of life's little adventures. Learning how to walk, making new friends, experiencing the first snowfall, and finding love make for charming vignettes on screen. And, let's face it--you can't really go wrong with adorable baby animals, and lots of them. (I am the biggest sucker for cute baby animals. Really. It's embarrassing.)

While the film floats along in an almost uneventful manner, the most dramatic moments are caused by the one thing that all the forest animals fear most: Man.

The characters in Bambi are animals with very human characteristics: they talk, laugh, and cry, they are curious, shy or proud,and they have deep bonds with one another. In contrast, Man seems to be void of humanness, even appearing monstrous - accentuated by his very absence from any frame of the movie. He is more of an idea than a character. To me this role reversal is the most intriguing aspect of the film.

Through my Gospel lens, it's impossible not to recall the words from Genesis 1 while watching Bambi. When God tells Man to subdue the earth and to rule over all the animals, I am pretty sure he did not mean for us to become the threat that all of creation fears. And so perhaps without meaning to, Bambi becomes a critique on Man's role in the natural world. I feel called to account as I see the animals running for their lives from burning trees. And when Bambi calls out to his mother who has been shot dead by hunters, I am not only sad but also indignant.

What is depicted in Bambi is really the problem of sin. Selfishness, carelessness, pride and ambition lead us to make certain choices, and those choices have consequences not only on ourselves but on creation as well. While we may not necessarily light the flame that starts a forest fire, or pull the trigger that kills an animal, our impact on the earth is still felt by other creatures, just as Man's presence was felt so strongly in Bambi.

I'm not going to jump into a "let's save the earth!" campaign or anything here, but Bambi reminds me that caring for the earth is a very godly, spiritual act. It is part of who we are as humans made in God's image, one of God's very first commands to us. When we take seriously his mandate to steward creation, we worship the name of God, and that is when we are most human.

Disclaimer: this post is not meant to have any anti-hunting agenda. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Seeing pink (elephants)

I feel compelled to make mention of one particularly strange scene in Dumbo. In efforts to console Dumbo, Timothy suggests he take a drink, not knowing that the pail has been spiked with champagne. What results is one of the strangest pieces of animation I've ever seen.

The DVD featurette explains that this sequence was the studio's effort to try new things in animation. From that perspective, I suppose one could appreciate the animators' ingenuity in imagining things that had never been shown on film before. One of my favorite parts is when the elephant-camel (sounds weird but that's totally what it is!) morphs into a snake and then a belly dancer. Um, what?!

One wonders if this was pure creativity or if the animators were drawing from any certain... ahem... personal experience. Needless to say, this is one of the strangest, and creepiest, scenes in a Disney animated movie. One website ranked it among the top 100 scariest movie scenes of all time!

In my research for this post, I came across a whole bunch of different Pink Elephant-related paraphernalia. One wonders if Dumbo was perhaps the catalyst for making this such a popular theme across a wide variety of products.

Clearly, some people do not realize the origin of this phrase, otherwise they might reconsider using it as a baby shower theme or hair clips for girls.

click for website
Click for website
For some reason though, I think this tshirt and car wash seem to understand the irony a little better.

buy on zazzle (look i'm advertising for free!)

I guess the car wash sign in Seattle is something of a landmark! huh... the things you learn!

Pink Elephant
Photo by MV Jantzen

Apparently there's also a brand of Pink Elephant cigarettes in France that are vanilla flavored. If I were to ever pick up smoking, which I never intend to, these would be the ones I would try. I mean, vanilla flavored! Doesn't that sound delicious?

But perhaps the best reemergence of these Pink Elephants on Parade in popular culture are the techno remixes that have popped up in the past few years. Apparently those people in the 1940s were ahead of their time. While techno is not my favorite genre of music, it's quite amazing how well the animation and the music seem to suit each other. Here are just a couple of dozens I found:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Elephant in the Room

Well, here we are. Four movies in, and it's now time to talk about the elephant in the room. No, not that one. Well, yes that one, but the other one too.

Many people remember the black crows in Dumbo, distinctly depicted by many Black stereotypes: jive talk, incessant smoking, their clothing style. While the first black voice actors used in a Disney animated film provide voices for most of the crows, the leader of the flock, nicknamed "Jim Crow" during production, was voiced by a white actor. Talk about a double slap in the face.

Controversial as they may be, the crows also happen to have the best musical number in the film ("When I Seen an Elephant Fly" -- see clip). And while at first they are quite skeptical, after some convincing from Timothy, they rally around Dumbo and encourage him to fly. Generally their characters are seen positively in this film. But does that really make up for the obvious stereotypes used here?

Personally, I think the crows bother me less because of another example of racial stereotyping in Dumbo that happens earlier in the film. In "The Song of the Roustabouts," faceless black men are seen setting up the circus tent alongside Dumbo and the other elephants. The lyrics include:

We work all day, we work all night
We never learned to read or write
We’re happy-hearted roustabouts

We don’t know when we get our pay
And when we do, we throw our pay away

We get our pay when children say
With happy hearts, "It’s circus day today"

I wonder if this would have even caught my attention if I hadn't had the subtitles on while watching the movie. (In the featurette on the DVD, there was not one mention of this scene!)

What irks me the most is that the men's faces are not even drawn. They have large, smooth shadowy bodies - making them appear much more similar to the animals they work alongside. Their harsh working conditions and lack of dependable wages have a all-too- familiar echo, and yet they sing about how happy and content they are. What could Disney have been trying to communicate by including this scene in the film? Was it an embarrassing attempt of pretending that it really was okay to treat blacks just like animals? That they in fact enjoyed it? Perhaps they figured that we wouldn't notice or care so much, since the focus of the scene still remains on Dumbo with his mother. With other controversies in Disney films relating to racism resulting in edits, cutting scenes, or flat-out censorship (Song of the South ring a bell?), I wonder why this scene was kept in.

It's likely that we call more attention and critique to racism present in Disney films because of their timelessness. No doubt other films produced in the 1940s portrayed similar stereotypes, but what other movies from that era are still watched as widely as Dumbo today? In this film is preserved some of what we would perhaps like to forget in regard to history's attitude towards race. Still, throughout Disney films, even more current classics, racial stereotyping continues to exist. Could this be related to the types of people who continue to dominate in the animation industry? (We have yet to see a Disney or Pixar movie not directed by a white man. Note: I haven't actually verified that, but I'm pretty sure it's true. Someone feel free to correct me.)

People may proclaim that "Disney is racist" and because of that one should never watch any Disney movies, especially not ones including such overt examples like Dumbo. I disagree. These movies may include controversial and offensive content, but they are not wholly evil. Just looking at the first few movies I've written about, there are still redemptive messages being told. Also, too often we Christians are quick to condemn culture, not taking the time to use it as a teaching moment or an opportunity for dialogue, or to appreciate what value they do possess.

The discussion about racism in Disney films has only begun. Let's be civil, but let's be honest. What are your thoughts about these scenes and characters in Dumbo? Do you think the presence of racial stereotypes should result in choosing not to watch these movies at all? How have you handled this situation with your kids?

Monday, September 19, 2011

#4: The Underdog's Advocate

Dumbo, 1941
watched September 11, 2011

(c) Disney - Dumbo may be hands down the cutest main character of any Disney film. But it's early yet.
So many Disney films, and pretty much every other classic hero's tale, center on a character who starts off with a disadvantage. And there is perhaps no better example than that of Dumbo, whose enormous ears make him the laughingstock of the circus. To make things worse, his mother is locked up for sticking up for her beloved baby, separating Dumbo from the one who loved him most. He is lonely and lost. The "Baby Mine" scene is so heart-wrenching and moving, we forget we are watching silent, animated elephants.

And so it is easy to feel for Dumbo, the ultimate loner, outcast, underdog (underelephant?). Certainly everyone has encountered unwarranted ridicule and rejection at some point in their life. It's a lonely place when it seems like the world is against you.

I wonder though, how many of us relate to Timothy Mouse, who, delightfully, is the sidekick that Jiminy Cricket was not in Pinocchio. While others reject Dumbo, Timothy goes out of his way to befriend him, and then makes it his mission to help Dumbo succeed. Even while Dumbo's attitude is rather defeatist, Timothy is unwaveringly optimistic and persistent. (He's my current favorite Disney mouse - if you're paying any attention to my polls of the week. hehe...)

I love to focus on Dumbo and point out all the things I have in common with him, but how often do I put myself in Timothy's shoes and ask, who are the Dumbos in my life? Who can I embrace and love that the world has rejected? (It's interesting to me that these loyal sidekicks never seem to be at the center of these films. No, they are too humble and too devoted to their best friend/main character to call any attention to themselves. Think Samwise Gamgee.)

While most underdog stories communicate, "Believe in yourself and you can achieve your dreams," I find that the real message of Dumbo relies much more on the actions of his loyal friend Timothy. Without Timothy, Dumbo certainly would have never had the initiative or courage to fly. He achieves success in his circus career and a happy reunion with his mother because someone had the courage to first love and accept him as he was. The ultimate underdog had the ultimate advocate.

We too have the ultimate Advocate, and we also can be that advocate for others.

(More to come. Dumbo has a plethora of interesting scenes and characters, even though at 64 minutes, it is the shortest  of all 51 feature animated films!)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

#3: Wordless Stories - Fantasia review, part 3

Night on Bald Mountain, Mussorgsky & Ave Maria, Schubert - a mashup

The last scene I'm choosing to comment on is also the last piece of the film. How interesting that Fantasia should end with two pieces that have religious undertones, in such contrast with one another.

In Night on Bald Mountain, Chernabog (aka Satan) - depicted as a huge batlike demon coming out of the face of a mountain, gathers his demonic followers to worship him. The ordeal unfolds into destruction and darkness, until, seamlessly, the music transitions to Ave Maria by the sound of clear, loud church bells. These bells seem to force the dispersion of  all of the demons, while also leaving Chernabog weakened and unable to continue his 'worship service'.

The following Ave Maria sequence seems a little boring, in fact, compared to the fury of activity on Bald Mountain. But I found this contrast to be quite intriguing. Once again, we see that evil does not have the last say! While the quiet worshippers make their procession to the cathedral, it is clear that the power of good, while subtle, is far greater than that of Satan and his followers. I found myself feeling encouraged (and, okay, slightly sleepy) at this reminder of God's faithfulness in a world where the presence of evil is so real. 

Concluding thoughts about Fantasia

Fantasia was clearly not made for children or even the average moviegoer, necessarily. It makes sense, then, that it did not end up doing well financially when it was released. However, I think there is something very beautiful about the art that was created here. It is such a unique piece of film that highlights the best of animation and the best of classical music. It's rare to have a piece of art say so much and tell such interesting stories without a single word.

#3: Wordless Stories - Fantasia review, part 2

The Rite of Spring, Stravinksy
In this piece we see the creation of the world from the "big bang" all the way up until the end of the dinosaur era. The narrator prefaces this piece by stating that "science, not art, inspired this piece." There are several missing pieces in this sequence however, such as how we get from a swirling mass of lava and ash to tiny living creatures floating in the water (there's a smoky-hazy transition which is kind of lame, in my opinion). And even more so, how do we go from fish crawling out of the water to a diversity of gigantic dinosaurs? Needless to say, I'm unconvinced that Fantasia's version of the history of the world is really that scientific.

It was also quite odd for the whole first half of the film to end with dinosaurs dehydrating in the hot sun. (The narrator says, "Well, we're not quite sure what really happened to the dinosaurs. But we do know they all died." Why, thank you for letting us know, Mr. Narrator. I was worried they were still lurking around somewhere on an island or something. Oh wait, that's Jurassic Park.)

I had to resist the urge to break out into "If We Hold On Together" from Land Before Time during that whole scene. Didn't want to wake Jen up.

part 3 coming later tonight!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

#3: Wordless Stories - Fantasia review, part 1

Fantasia, 1940
Watched September 5 & 10, 2011

(c) Disney - isn't Mickey adorable?
Okay, I have a confession to make. I did not make it through Fantasia in one sitting.

But in my defense, I started watching it at midnight after a busy and tiring (but fun!) weekend in New York, just a few hours before having to wake up to catch a flight the next morning. So, you really can't judge me, all you Fantasia lovers! I did much better than Jen, who fell asleep during the Nutcracker's Suite! I watched until the 'intermission' and finally finished the second half this past weekend. (Shout-out to my friend Jon for procuring the movie at the last minute by some probably-illegal-method-of-which-I-didn't-ask. You know, the whole plausible deniability thing.)

Having watched this film and concluded that it was boring as a kid, I wasn't sure what to expect this time around. While it still didn't blow me away, I think I'm now mature enough to say that I at least appreciated it. :) So I'm going to break this review up into 3 parts, choosing 3 (of the 8) scenes that were particularly interesting to me. We'll start with my favorite. 

The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Dukas

As the film's most famous scene, the Sorcerer's Apprentice is what stuck in my mind from watching it as a child, and is still what captivates me the most today. A little bit of history -- Walt Disney and conductor Leopold Stokowski had first begun collaboration around just this one scene. They had intended it to be a short, in line with Disney's other "Silly Symphony" pieces.

So it's probably for this reason that Sorcerer's Apprentice has the most well developed story. Based on an actual poem by German poet Goethe, and using musical composition by Dukas, also based on Goethe's poem - it is the most cohesive and engaging section of the entire film (in my humble opinion). Also not insignificantly, it features Disney's beloved character Mickey Mouse, who was used here to reintroduce him to audiences. (This is the first time we see him in his 'modern' design - with more expressive eyes and a pear-shaped body.)

Now, I'm not sure what Goethe's original intention for this story was, but I found the relationship between Mickey and the sorcerer to be oddly familiar. The sorcerer (whose name is Yen Sid - points to the first person who gets why that's his name!) not only possess power but has a mastery over it that Mickey, his apprentice, cannot begin to fathom. Mickey's task of carrying pails of water seems tedious and laborious. When he tries to use the sorcerer's magic to alleviate his work, he finds that he cannot control it, and things get quickly out of hand. Even in his state of panic, he tries to fix it on his own, never calling the sorcerer for help. In fact as he tries to make the broom stop carrying water up and down the stairs, it gets worse when the splinters of wood grow into new brooms. When the sorcerer finally comes to calm the chaos, Mickey sheepishly hands back the sorcerer's hat (which, by the way, the sorcerer didn't even need to wear to produce the magic that made all the water vanish).

Isn't this so much like my attitude towards God? The parallels are so striking I wonder what other possible interpretation there could be (ok, perhaps my Christian worldview leaves me a bit biased). As I live to serve God, I take things into my own hands, either out of laziness or pride, or both. As a result, I try to control  more than God has asked of me, and quickly find that it is too much for me to handle. Instead of admitting this, however, I make things worse by trying to fix it myself. When God intervenes and sets things right again, I smack my forehead and think, how could I have been so stupid? Why didn't I let him do that in the first place? I'm reminded of my own limits, and of God's infinite power. 

It's incredibly humbling to be convicted of my own sin and pride by an animated film. I suppose God can use anything to teach us.

To be continued...

Monday, September 12, 2011

To truly live

Jiminy Cricket!

(c) Disney

Jiminy Cricket, whose name, interestingly enough, comes from a minced oath for Jesus Christ, has become Disney's poster sidekick, probably second only to Tinkerbell. Before watching this movie I had him pegged as the wise, helpful sidekick, who steered Pinocchio in the right direction every time he needed it. Boy was I wrong!

In this film, Jiminy Cricket is really not the best 'conscience' for a boy needing to learn the ways of life. He assumes his role as Pinocchio's conscience almost by chance, and throughout the film he seems to be MIA when he's needed the most. I found this unreliability extremely frustrating.

I suppose his character reflects the same reality I've pointed out about the whole film in my review. In light of the misleading message we are told by our culture, "listen to your heart" -- it's clear in Pinocchio that one's heart, or conscience, is not infallible. Jiminy Cricket certainly has good intentions, but he is also girl-crazy (which is a little creepy, after all he's a cricket!), flaky, and gives up too easily. Jiminy Cricket's character perhaps reveals that we cannot always trust ourselves to make the right decisions all the time. Maybe the old adage should be: "listen to your heart, but not when it's wrong." Hmm...doesn't quite have the same ring.

The Boy Puppet
(c) Disney
I found the character of Pinocchio quite intriguing. As a main character, his major "dilemma" is that he desires to become a 'real boy'. In the film, this is defined as making good decisions and resisting temptations - in other words - proving oneself to be good. In my point of view, these things add up to what it means to have true life. We who are in Christ know that there is only one path to true life, and it isn't easy. To be good through and through is impossible on our own. Pinocchio gets it partially right; we see in the film that the wooden boy is extremely flawed and finds it quite easy to lie (a now famous aspect of his character, in fact). And while he about as gullible as can be at the start, the film makes it clear that each choice he makes is very much his own.

However, I was disappointed that in the end the story seems to say that Pinocchio finally proves himself to be good. It is true that he acted heroically in helping Gepetto escape from Monstroe the Whale. But I'm not convinced that it necessarily "earned" him the right to become a real boy. Who's to say that he had completely learned never to lie or make a mistake again? Has he really learned all he needs to know?

I'd love to hear what you think of Pinocchio's character arc. What is the real reason Pinocchio became a real boy?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Pinocchio review - a footnote

At the time I was drafting my review of Pinocchio, I picked up a new IVP book titled God in a Brothel. It is the firsthand account of a former private investigator who spent several years working to rescue victims of human sex trafficking and prosecute those who oppress them. As I read, I found myself struggling with overwhelming feelings about the brokenness of the world... and wondering why the "happily ever after" has not come for these millions of women and children enslaved in the world today, and why the sex industry even seems to be flourishing all over the globe. How has evil become so intense and widespread and yet so easy for me to ignore? How am I to respond? I am continuing to process and wrestle with this issue... and expect there won't be an easy answer any time soon.

So, even as I hold to my conviction that the Gospel gives us hope, I can't say it is easy. As I think of the many victims who, unlike Pinocchio, have not been able to escape such pervading evil, I can but feebly ask God to have mercy and to bring justice soon. 

Feel free to leave a comment if you have any thoughts or questions about the book.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Snow White's supporting cast

Aside from the main character, there are types of characters that seem universal in most Disney movies: the love interest, the villain, the parent figure/wise mentor, and the sidekick(s). In these character blog posts, I will set out to examine these other characters and how they impact the story. I welcome your responses and thoughts!

The Huntsman
I’m not familiar enough with the actual Grimm fairy tale to know the hunstman’s role in the original story. Although he plays a small part here, he is crucial. He is the first person in the story to show compassion, and he saves Snow White’s life while risking his own (I’m actually surprised they didn’t show the Queen punishing him for his disobedience). In fact, he is such a unique character that he does not fit into any of my Disney character types! Apparently, in one of the (three!) upcoming Snow White adaptations, the one starring Kristen Stewart (of Twilight, blech), the Huntsman (played by Chris Hemsworth, aka Thor) will have a more significant role. Should be interesting. I may have to see the movie just so I can comment on its comparison to the Disney version!

The Love Interest
The prince actually has a very small role in this film. I didn’t mind so much - although it was kind of hilarious (or annoying) how he prances in at the very end (after the dwarfs proved themselves the real heroes of the story) and gets to be the one to kiss the girl and live happily ever after with her. I think the story could have been fine without the prince altogether, but I suppose adding the romantic element is what makes Disney movies what they are. After watching some of the DVD’s features special I learned that the animators were having a difficult time with visualizing him, and therefore minimized his role quite a bit. I could definitely tell, because in most of his scenes you could only see the back of his head and they hardly used his likeness in any of the publicity materials. No wonder - he kind of looks like a girl. (I am so glad Disney improved over the years... think of Aladdin, Prince Eric, and, ahem, Flynn Rider! swoon. just kidding. but not really.)

The Villain
The evil Queen in Snow White definitely sets the stage for all Disney villains - she is charismatic and beautiful, and possesses dark power that is truly frightening, even to my 28 year old self. Although I don’t doubt the Queen’s evilness, I wish I knew more about her, and why she was so paranoid! It seems strange to me that a queen, who should be busy ruling the kingdom, spends all her time in front of a mirror, making sure she is the most beautiful one in the land. Her extreme vanity without any other character development makes it hard for me to understand her. I can’t imagine seeing her transformation into the old hag as a child; it would have definitely given me nightmares! But seeing it now, there was something comforting about it - like all along she should have been that ugly because it shows her true nature. I am curious to see how this theme of evil = ugly & good = beautiful will play out in future movies.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

#2: True to Life

Pinocchio, 1940
watched August 28, 2011

(c) Disney - I'm sorry, I'm still learning blog photo protocol. anyone know how this works when I'm not using my own photos?
Since I watched Snow White before the announcement of this blog, Pinocchio was the first one I invited people to watch with me. I was surprised to hear how many strong opinions there were about this film before I even watched it! A few people even said they would not watch it with me because it was too scary.

You guys are such wimps. 

(Though, granted, it probably was one of the scarier Disney movies I've seen. So I'll give you that.)

This is one of the only Disney films that I have seen that is true to real life. Not the part about puppets becoming real boys. (That would be really freaky, if you think about it.) Or the talking cricket. Or that if you make a wish on a star a blue fairy will come down to grant you that wish. Okay, I suppose there is still a lot that's not realistic. Although, you can live and breathe inside a whale. That part is totally biblical!

But in most Disney stories, the setting is some idyllic, beautiful place, where you can't help but feel optimistic and happy. In Pinocchio, we find ourselves in a world where the main character is exceedingly vulnerable, prone to being deceived, captured, and even abused. His father seems powerless to keep him from harm. Doesn't this sound a little more like real life? Often those who have the advantage abuse their power and oppress those less powerful. The people we hope will protect us are unable to for reasons beyond our control. This is a much darker, and realistic, view of the world than is normal for Disney movies.

And perhaps that is why so many of us squirm and even refuse to watch this kind of Disney movie. We have become so used to receiving those warm, happy, fuzzy feelings from Disney, that anything different is unacceptable. We can no longer handle the realism that Pinocchio portrays. Despite producing films like Pinocchio, Disney has certainly impacted the inability of children (and adults, myself included) to accept things that are unpleasant.

This is both unhelpful and helpful. On the one hand, it keeps us from acknowledging the presence of abuse, violence, and suffering.
I flinch when I see Pinocchio thrown into Stromboli's cage, and cry out in frustration when the fox and the cat swindle him once again. I'm deeply disturbed when I watch the young boys (albeit 'disobedient' ones) being captured and turned into donkeys, because it reminds me that there are in fact young children in the world who are enslaved and abused. 

But on the other hand, it is that very essence of wanting the world to be good that makes us yearn for the kingdom of God. Something in us knows that all the evil that surrounds us can't be the best there is. When the film comes to a resolution, I shift more comfortably in my seat and let out a sigh of relief. We are brought back to the theme that evil does not have the last say. And thankfully, this is also true to real life.

So, although Disney movies can and have made us a little too soft to the realities of darkness in the world, the tried and true happy endings we have come to expect also remind us that there is hope. And that's alright with me.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Heigh ho, heigh ho, the dwarfs still steal the show!

There will probably be several posts for future movies about the music, an integral part of the Disney animated movie formula. (The best ones are musicals. It’s just the truth!) Fun fact - Snow White was the first movie to ever release a soundtrack. Think of all the great soundtracks in movie history (Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, to name a few of my faves.) -- they owe it all to Snow White!

I am not really a fan of the theme song, “Some Day My Prince Will Come.” It bothers me that Snow White was so passive about her man, and that she felt the need to burst into song about it! First of all, they didn’t even know each other, so why was she waiting for him? And second - where the heck was the prince all that time after their first encounter? He wasn’t very helpful when the Queen was trying to kill her. How did she know that he could make her happy forever? Ridiculous. The other issue is that Snow White’s voice is quite shrill and over-vibratoed. Definitely not my style. Sorry, Snowy.

Once again, it's the dwarfs who win me over. Before I watched this movie again, the only song that I had remembered was Heigh-Ho. It’s quite catchy, conveniently has about 8 words total (7 if "heigh-ho" counts as one word), and even has a whistling part in it (if only I could actually whistle). I enjoy the multi-part harmony of the dwarfs as well. Their march home from work has become a very iconic scene.


(Wouldn’t it be awesome if jewels came out of mines all sparkly like that?)

Snow White’s soundtrack was quite elaborate for Disney’s first ever feature length film. It has more songs than some of the more recent musicals (I think there are 8 songs in total). Yes, the style of music is not quite my taste, but I have to say I admire Walt Disney for taking such great care in incorporating songs that carried the story along and for setting a precedent for music’s essential part of the movie experience.