There’s something profoundly melancholy about Disney returning, in its present state of creative exhaustion and corporate decadence, to The Little Mermaid — the nucleus from which the entire Disney renaissance exploded, in a way along with everything that has followed.
Disney’s Aladdin does more than give Williams an opportunity to let loose the comic giant inside him: It offers the Disney animators perhaps their greatest creative challenge, and inspiration, in over half a century.
Both newly available in multi-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo editions, Dumbo and The Lion King were each developed during one of Disney’s two periods of greatest creative flourishing … Both Dumbo and The Lion King are much beloved, though in my opinion they’re both overrated and comparatively disappointing.
Chronologically, The Lion King stands between the striking triumphs of the early Disney renaissance (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin) and the bumpy deterioration of the latter 1990s (Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, etc.). One way or another, it’s at the turning point between Disney’s creative renewal and its eventual decline. Fans might locate it near the pinnacle, along with Beauty and the Beast, but I don’t feel the love.
(Newly available on Blu-ray/DVD) Rather than a static motion picture, Fantasia was originally conceived as a repertoire, a selection of presentations that over time could be augmented by new pieces while old ones were retired, like an orchestra rotating its concert lineup … Ten years ago, amid the wreckage at the end of the 1990s Disney Renaissance, the Disney studio marked Fantasia’s 60th anniversary with Fantasia 2000, a film intended to honor in a way the original repertory conception of Fantasia.
At the intersection of great animated films, great filmed stage musicals, and great fairy-tale romances, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast stands alone. Directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, it is simply the quintessential Disney masterpiece, the perfection of everything that Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Sleeping Beauty and The Little Mermaid aspired to.
Copyright © 2000– Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved.