I’ve already covered each major Walt Disney film individually as part of my Uncle Walt-a-thon project (except The Jungle Book, but he died during the production of that one and Netflix doesn’t have it, so I’m skipping it), but it occurs to me that I haven’t yet shared any thoughts of the project as a whole. So, here are some general impressions and a highlight reel.
Overall, there weren’t any surprises. Based on my childhood memories of these films, I expected a bunch of well-animated children’s films, and that’s what I got. The stories are fairly standard fare for family films, so what interested me most going in was to see how animation improved or changed over time.
Well, the animation quality did improve somewhat from one film to another, but Alice in Wonderland was the last one that was especially striking, visually, though there was a change in style with 101 Dalmatians. There are just a few highlights for fans of animation as such: Snow White, the “Pink Elephants on Parade” in Dumbo, much of Fantasia, Alice in Wonderland, and perhaps 101 Dalmatians. If I were teaching a class on animation, I suppose those five films would be the ones I’d include.
My personal favourite film was, unsurprisingly, Alice in Wonderland. As I said in my post on that film, Alice was surprisingly well-suited to an animated adaptation, because it allowed Disney’s animators to largely dispense with the (usually pretty boring) story and focus on what they did best – animation.
It’s a tough call to say which is the best film overall of the more “plot-based” films. I’d probably go with Pinocchio, which has better animation than its predecessor (just Snow White), better music than most, and the best plot. At least, it has the most happening, so the pacing is fairly quick.
Alice in Wonderland had the most interesting animation, but Sleeping Beauty should probably get an honourable mention for being the best-looking of Disney’s more… traditional films.
Cinderella was the most boring by a large margin. Yes, I’d honestly rather watch Three Caballeros than Cinderella.
As part of some icebreaker group activity I was once asked for my favourite Disney villain. It’s difficult not to look at Fantasia and answer “the Devil” because, y’know, it’s tough to top Satan when it comes to bad guys. Then and now, though, I can’t help but go with Shere Khan. Yeah, I didn’t actually cover The Jungle Book, but the man’s a gentleman. Maleficent, from Sleeping Beauty, should probably get an honourable mention, and I also liked Honest John from Pinocchio.
Captain Hook from Peter Pan was the worst, just because he was nothing more than comic relief in a movie that had enough comedy already.
Finally, the Pink Elephants win the award for “scene that’s just as awesome as I remember from childhood.” The boys in Pinocchio turning into jackasses was also pretty cool, though, and gets an honourable mention.
So, that wraps up my overview of Walt Disney’s filmography. I’ll probably get around to reviewing more Disney films eventually, perhaps go back to Disney’s black-and-white films or forward into The Jungle Book, Robin Hood, and so on, but timing on that will, as always, be subject to my personal whim and fancy.