Disney has been a part of my life from the very beginning. From visiting Disney World to watching the works of Disney on the big and little screens, I can easily say that I would not be the person I am today without Disney. The works that affected me the most were the feature films of the Walt Disney Animation Studios. These films served as one of the two main inspirations (with the other being the films of Studio Ghibli) for my dream of writing for animation. Below is part one of my top ten personal favorites from the studio where dreams come true.
10. One Hundred and One Dalmatians
Based on the 1956 British novel, The One Hundred and One Dalmatians, by Dodie Smith, this is the only film on the list from when Walt Disney himself ran the studio. The 17th film from the studio tells the story of a litter of Dalmatian puppies who are kidnapped by the wicked Cruella de Vil. Their parents set out on a rescue mission before de Vil can turn the puppies in fur coats. This film was a favorite of mine as a child, spurred on by my life long love of dogs. The classic animation and voice acting still hold up today and it easy to see why this classic has lasted the test of time. Cruella de Vil still stands as one of Disney’s most iconic villains with one of the cruelest plans of any Disney villain.
Based on the Greek legend Heracles (known in the film by his Roman name, Hercules) “Hercules” is the first film on the list from what would be called the Disney Renaissance era. The 35th film from the studio, the film tells the story of legend of Hercules as he goes from a zero to hero all while fighting against the forces of the power hungry Hades. The film has an amazing voice cast with the highlight performances being Danny DeVito as Phil and the amazing James Woods as Hades. James Woods’ Hades is still one of my all time favorite Disney villains with his humor and “mile a minute” speech pattern.
8. Lilo & Stitch
The 42nd film from the studio, the film tells the story of Lilo, a lonely Hawaiian girl who lost her parents in a car accident, and Stitch, an alien creature who is adopted by Lilo as her “dog” while on the run from the Galactic Federation. The two of them form a close bond that causes Stitch to reconsider his destructive purpose in order to keep his newfound family together. The film is my favorite from the studio from the early 2000’s with Stitch being one of my favorite Disney characters. The concept of ‘ohana, a Hawaiian concept of extended family, and the film’s supporting cast, especially Jumba and Pleakly, makes this film a must see.
7. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Based on the 1831 French novel, Notre-Dame de Paris, by Victor Hugo, "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" is the 34th film from the studio. The film tells the story of a young, hunchbacked bell ringer who dreams of seeing life outside of his bell tower, but fears discrimination due to being called a monster his entire life by his caretaker, Judge Claude Frollo. This is one of Disney's darkest films as it contains themes such as infanticide, lust, damnation, genocide, and sin. The film features many memorable musical numbers, including my favorite Disney villain song, "Hellfire". Produced during the Disney Renaissance, this is a film that should not be missed for any Disney fan or fan of beautiful animation.
Based on Polynesian myth (especially on the figure, Māui), "Moana" is the 56th and most recent film from the studio. The films tells the story of young Moana, who must find the legendary demigod, Maui, and return the mystical relic, the heart of Te Fiti, to the goddess, Te Fiti, in order to save her island home from destruction. The film is beautifully animated, especially the water, and the music is top notch with great vocal performances by Moana's voice actor, Auli'i Cravalho. The highlight of the film to me was the performance of Maui by Dwayne Johnson (he'll always be The Rock to me). His humor and charm oozes from the character and his development from arrogant demigod to humble friend to Moana is fun to watch.
That's it for part one. Check out next week's blog for my top five. See you then!