Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Disney movies and viewer perception

I've been thinking about one of the ending lines from Hope Floats a lot lately: "Childhood is what you spend the rest of your life trying to overcome." I have been revisiting my childhood over the past few weeks as I've been steadily adding to my movie collection, primarily in the Disney/animated sector.

Sometimes, watching one of your favorite childhood movies proves quite disappointing; you finally realize that the mice in An American Tail slaughter "Somewhere Out There," and movies like Fern Gully simply have no appeal. Sometimes it becomes embarrassing to admit that you liked certain movies; Gallavants is a good example (not that I ever actually liked that movie; I just remember watching it a lot, if that makes any difference. I blame Tyrel). I regret watching these movies in my adulthood because it has forever tainted what were formerly happy and innocent memories.

Fortunately though, some movie makers do everything they can to make a movie appealing to both children and their parents, though they will have vastly different interpretations. It's been entertaining to watch some of my childhood classics from an adult perspective, suddenly understanding things I was confused about as a child while at the same time being a bit confused by some of my childhood interpretations. Even better though, some of those interpretations are the same today as they were when I was five years old, allowing those memories to live on untarnished.

For this blog post, I'm talking about four movies in particular: The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and Anastasia. Read on, and I think you'll understand what I mean.

The Little Mermaid
Younger self: I want to watch this movie every day.
Older self: Maybe the reason I loved this movie so much was because (1) I (like the rest of my sisters) was a song bird and may have harbored a hope that a guy would fall in love with my voice, and (2) Ariel couldn't talk throughout most of the movie; that was definitely something I could relate to. It's not that I couldn't talk, I just didn't much, even when I wanted to. Or, maybe I just watched it all the time because Tiffany loved it too.

Younger self: I wonder how effective it would be to comb my hair with a fork.
Older self: I wonder how effective it would be to comb my hair with a fork.

Younger self: Eric is the handsomest Disney prince.
Older self: Eric is still the handsomest Disney prince. The fact that he actually has lines might have something to do with it.

Younger self: Wow, Ariel is 16? I can't wait until I'm all grown up like her.
Older self: Why aren't any of Ariel's older sisters married?

Younger self: "Part of Your World" is my favorite Disney song. The later scene when Ariel sings "I don't know when, I don't know how, but I know something's starting right now" as the waves build up behind her was especially powerful to me, even back then.
Older self: "Part of Your World" is still my favorite Disney song.

Younger self: Ariel's dad is mean.
Older self: King Triton loves his daughter very much.

Younger self: Ariel's dad is the king.
Older self: Hey, cool! Triton is totally part of Greek mythology!

Younger self: The Sea Witch is kind of scary.
Older self: The Sea Witch character is slightly inappropriate for children.

Younger self: Why did Triton make Sebastian Ariel's babysitter? She's way bigger than he is.
Older self: Sebastian is right; Ariel is a headstrong teenager.

Younger self: Why does Ariel's hair keep changing colors?
Older self: I wonder if it's possible to have hair as red as Ariel's.

Younger self: "The prince is marrying the Sea Witch in the sky!" Well that's a weird thing to do.
Older self: "The prince is marrying the Sea Witch in disguise!" That makes a lot more sense.

Younger self: The dress Ariel wears after her dad transforms her is the most beautiful dress in the world.
Older self: *chokes up when King Triton tells Sebastian that the only problem left was how much he was going to miss his daughter*

Younger self: Wow, Jasmine is almost 16. She's so grown up!
Older self: Jasmine's only 16! Why the heck are they trying to marry her off?!?! And it's no wonder no one wants to marry her; she's kind of an immature brat.

Younger self: Mom, what does it mean to have fleas?
Older self: Aladdin is awfully clean for a street rat.

Younger self: It is perfectly normal to have a pet tiger.
Older self: Do people really have pet tigers? Seems a bit suicidal to me.

Younger self: Jasmine's dad is a kind, old man.
Older self: What kind of ruler plays with his toys all day? And why is it that none of the Disney princesses have two parents?

Younger self: Aladdin is a princess movie.
Older self: Actually, it's not; the title is a pretty big clue.

Younger self: I don't understand half of what the Genie is talking about during the "Friend Like Me" song.
Older self: The lyrics to this song must have taken forever to write. And the Genie's references to other movies and such is almost Gilmore Girls worthy.

Younger self: I want to ride on a magic carpet.
Older self: I want to ride on a magic carpet.

Beauty and the Beast
Younger self: The opening shot is really pretty.
Older self: The opening shot is really pretty.

Younger self: Belle seemed older than the rest of the Disney princesses, approaching spinsterhood.
Older self: Which makes her, what, 18?

Younger self: The horse is smart like the appliances at the castle.
Older self: How did the horse find its way home? And how did the horse/Belle know where the castle was?

Younger self: "Try the grey stuff; it's delicious." I don't believe you.
Older self: I still don't believe you.

Younger self: Ooh, look at all the dancing dishes . . . oh look there's more, and, WOW! There's like a million of them! *completely mesmorized*
Older self: Um, what's the point of the multiplying dishes?

Younger self: "There may be something there that wasn't there before . . ." How come no one tells Chip "what's there"? I want to know what's there!
Older self: Ah, now I get it.

Younger self: Hey cool, even animated people eat cream of wheat for breakfast.
Older self: Actually, for some reason that still amuses me.

Younger self: I want that library!!
Older self: I WANT THAT LIBRARY!!!

Younger self: "You look so, so . . ." "Stupid." 10 minutes of laughter.
Older self: Still cause for sniggers.

Younger self: Why are the fireworks falling down from the sky?
Older self: I still don't get it.

Younger self: Dimitri is pretty handsome for an animated guy.
Older self: Dimitri is pretty handsome for an animated guy.

Younger self: The concept of Rasputin selling his soul/dying/not really being dead = confusing.
Older self: The fact that Rasputin is falling apart makes his temper tantrums quite funny.

Not-so-much-younger self: It's funny that Rasputin sings when he drowns in the ice.
Older self: Oh. The train was making that noise.

Younger self: I like the part where Dimitri runs into the wall.
Older self: I still like the part where Dimitri runs into the wall.

Younger self: Is this movie true?
Older self: Gah, this movie is such a good chick flick!

I may have to do a part 2 of this post when I get movies like Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and Pocahontas; it's been at least 10-15 years since I have seen any of those, and my changed perception is bound to be more pronounced for those movies than it was for my three favorite Disney movies.


  1. "The prince is marrying the Sea Witch in the sky!" I LOVE IT! I'm so glad we had similar experiences in our childhood ("What's a buyer and why does it, what's the word - learn?"). I laughed for a long time when I saw that one.
    I also think that Dimitri is the handsomest, and that it is hilarious when he runs into the wall. Gets me every time.
    This post totally made my day.

  2. I'm glad I'm not the only one who laughs every time Dimitri runs into the wall. I don't feel so weird now.