I’m not one to complain about Hollywood’s recent binge of remakes and retellings. Growing up watching the Disney classics, I became a lifelong fan of and enthusiast for whatever the latest release holds (truly enjoyed the Legend of Tarzan and am holding my breath for Emma Watson in Beauty and the Beast). There is something special (or should I say, magical?) about how filmmakers can rejuvenate the original stories into live-action adaptations that still manage to connect to audiences who grew up with the animated features. However, with the success recent animated films such as Frozen, one can’t help but wonder why Disney chooses live-action over remastered animation remakes?
Don’t get me wrong, I was the biggest supporter of Angelina Jolie as Maleficent, but I can see how Sleeping Beauty could be beautifully reanimated with today’s technology and Disney’s superb writers/designers. There is something whimsical about animated characters that is lost in translation with real actors, even though the revamped storylines are totally admirable. The first Disney films are definitely cherished and heavily nostalgic, which may be why creators hesitate to change the look or feel of the classics in their original media (like, it’s easier to picture Margot Robbie’s Jane being a total badass because she doesn’t look exactly like bookish cartoon Jane). But what would it be like if animators remade these classic films today?
Who wouldn’t absolutely love to see remastered versions of the earliest Disney Princesses? My new artistic benchmark is Tangled; you can literally see the individual strands of golden hair and the super light dusting of freckles on her nose during close up shots. The 3D film is bright, endearing, and lifelike -- but still possesses an animated quality that keeps it from going into slightly creepy The Polar Express territory (some people actually hate that over-realistic style of CGI -- look up “uncanny valley”). The earliest princesses such as Snow White (1938) and Aurora (1959) are visually defined in fairly simplistic terms, such as eyes, mouth, and hair, but have little in the way of details due to the 2D traditional animation. If they were designed in the style of modern-day Disney, they would be less stiff and more youthful with their movements, have a childish aura, and would not be so generically pretty and “quirk-less.”
Think Finding Dory. Seldom does a Disney film in recent years not aim to make us laugh, even just a little bit. Features like Bambi and Alice in Wonderland may be close to our hearts but they are not as close to our funny bones.
These are still animated kids films. after all. In some of the oldest Disney films, characters drink heavily, which might not fly with parents these days. I still can’t believe that the “Pink Elephant” scene in Dumbo is a thing. And let’s not even get started on Pinocchio’s Pleasure Island...
More Friends, Less Woodland Creatures.
The Disney Princesses should follow in Taylor Swift’s footsteps and get themselves a #girlsquad. Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Ariel have no actual gal pals who would who have their backs. In an animated remake, I’d like to see some companionship that is outside of a romantic partner!
Most of us will always have a soft spot in our hearts for these childhood classics. Even decades after the releases, these films and characters still evolve thanks to Hollywood’s ability to adapt to new generations of Disney fanatics. Even though the latest live-action retellings have us hooked, Disney could definitely be successful with an animated reboot of a classic!