Sunday, 23 November 2014

Movie Date: Disney Shorts

Although Disney is one of the biggest and most successful studios in the world, there is a certain image that sticks with the name. When people hear Disney these days, it's less Mickey Mouse and Disneyland than princesses and Disney Channel, which seem to send them retching afterwards. Such a sad, sad fact, to be honest. I'm an admirer of Walt Disney. He certainly revolutionised the world of animation and turned it into what it is today. It's such a shame to see the great Disney name has fallen since his time. Back in the day, people hear "Disney" and they think of the studio which shapes the animation industry to this day. Now, people hear it and think teeny, tiny, sparkly - not to mention, unfeminist - princesses. Sometimes even I think that Disney has gone sour...but then these shorts get me excited about the studio again. Though short, they certainly uphold the concept of traditional animation as well as incredible story-telling - Disney's best qualities. Here are some of my favourites:

Rhapsody in Blue (Fantasia 2000)

In case you didn't know, in 2000 Disney released a DVD filled with collective short animations, portraying different classical musical pieces by various composers. It was the sequel to the first Fantasia DVD they released in the 1940s - which also rocks! Although most these videos have no dialogue, they each have stories to tell. Some of them are quite whimsical, like this portrayal of George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue." There are about four stories in the film, which in the end will all come together. I adore the quirky style of animation, definitely so different from the princessy type and absolutely in keeping with the hustle and bustle of the city. This film managed to get me obsessed with the music. Aside from this one, Firebird in the same DVD is also another one of my favourite.

Destino

In 1946 Walt Disney and Salvador Dali started a collaboration. Over fifty years in the making, it was finally done. If you ever wondered what their baby would look like - would it be as magical and mind-blowing as you imagine it to be? - then you are simply correct. The storyline is not as blatant as Disney's usual works but it definitely has some of their typical magical touches, especially the background music. It also has Dali's incredibly artistic style to offer. You will definitely find the boundary between reality and imaginary absolutely obscured - if not at all erased. Although the film is only around 6 minutes long, it felt to be so much longer as the plot widens. The story, I believe, is about the invention of time. Practically held my breath throughout the film.

One By One

This film was released as a feature film in The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride DVD format. It tells the playful story of children in South Africa who attempt to make kites using various uncanny materials. Although there are no political indications in the film to imply that it is set in South Africa, the feather which appears in the beginning and ending of the film is in the colour of the South African flag. The style of animation reminds me a little of The Proud Family, minus the sassy way of talking and manner. Also, I feel like this might be the style which shapes The Princess and the Frog. But maybe I'm just a little racially biased is all. This film also has no dialogue, simply an incredible "freedom song" playing throughout the film by Lebo M. It definitely goes together with The Lion King.

Paperman

If you're an avid user of the internet - which I assume you are by your reading this blog -, you would definitely have heard of this. Paperman was shown in theatres the same time as Wreck-It Ralph - which I also super, super adore - so if you saw Wreck-It Ralph in cinema, you would have seen this one too as a freebie. The story is super simple, a love story between a man and a woman who frequently see each other upon waiting for the train. I especially adore the black-and-white and semi-sepia effect the animation has. It gives off an intimate aura to the audience. This film has that typical magical touch of Disney but mixed with the urban lifestyle of modern days. It was so incredible that it won an Oscar last year.

Feast

The other day, when I went to see Big Hero 6, I was greeted by this short animation before the actual movie. Again, it was shown as a freebie along with another of their Blockbuster films. Feast tells a really adorable yet artistic story of a Boston Terrier and its master through the eyes of the dog. The changing lifestyle and mood of the master is immaculately portrayed by the portions and types of food he gives the dog - none of them has any names. It is incredible how much they could show without having to reveal the master's face or even body for most of the film, usually it's just his limbs. The style of the animation is also so different from what we're used to, it reminds me so much of Pascal Campion's style.

There are obviously still dozens of other short films Disney has made. Most of them are as spin-offs of their existing series - especially of Mickey Mouse and the gang - but also not to be missed. These little miracles are what makes me remember what Disney is originally all about. Sometimes that gets lost in all their more mainstream works and these little treats can be quite a wonderful Saturday night-in animation adventure. To me, they seem to bring out the Disney roots more than their more popular films. So don't say you're a Disney fan if you've never seen their none-princessy or their less mainstream works.


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