Once Upon a Time

SnowWhiteCastle…the stories were told by static images and the written word; fantastic worlds and amazing characters drawn upon the pages of books.  Within these tomes anything could happen: ancient curses could be broken, a pauper could become a sultan, and a beauty could love a beast.  But the adventures that occurred in these magical kingdoms were perpetually stuck in place, frozen in a world where no movement could occur.  How surprising that the means to push a tale forward in these books was the key to break the spell.  Just by turning some pages rapidly, a hero could travel across the paper and stride towards destiny.

It was incredible: the picture-books of my youth were given life and now all of these stories could play out on the big screen.  Once I better understood the techniques of animation, I would tear through our family’s office supplies and scavenge for notepads to transform into flipbooks.  I was captivated by the process of taking a stack of drawings and turning them into a cartoon.  Even though my flipbooks were never more than stick figures performing random movements(such as jump-kicks or getting eaten by tigers), the studios I admired perfected the art form, culminating in what are now referred to as the “Disney Classics.”

UpFredricksonAs technology advanced in leaps and bounds through the years, cartoons also improved over time.  Environments grew dense with detail and characters became even more life-like on the screen.  But it feels like something was lost in Disney’s transition from hand-drawn to computer generated animation.  It was not so much that the stories were any worse for the upgrades.  One need only to Pixar’s amazing films to know that the tales have not suffered in the move to the third dimension.  It just seems as though the magic potion that once overflowed from the films had diminished to a light sprinkle of fairy dust.  Perhaps the songs have not been as catchy, or the hyper-realistic animation has ventured too deep into the uncanny valley.  Or maybe (just maybe), I cannot appreciate the whimsy of cartoons with the harsh eyes of an adult.

Whatever the case, the joy of Disney’s movies will always remain in the hearts of those who saw these classics initially released.  This month, Laura and I will be watching some of the films that put Disney on the map, accompanied by playing the video games that were companions to the movies.  So think a happy little thought, and be our guest for some Disney magic.

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2 thoughts on “Once Upon a Time

  1. Tyler Murphy says:

    I look forward to your posts on this. Disney games, while not amazing, are still some real classics of my own youth, just like the movies.

    And I do agree with you, there is something lost. Though I am pretty sure it’s just a mix of nostalgia and our own age, I would also like to believe that there is something intrinsically different to hand-drawing a feature length movie versus doing it all digitally. I can’t say for sure what that quality may be though, because it certainly isn’t anything like love, passion, talent, or creativity, since you can find all of those qualities in Pixar’s work.

    I just don’t know!

  2. Sam Leung says:

    I’m also looking forward to whatever you write on this topic! Like so many people, there will always be a special place in my heart for the Disney movies I watched when I was a kid. They have this whimsical quality, this magic that I haven’t seen replicated elsewhere. Maybe it’s because unlike modern animated movies, the focus was never on realism or even a version of real life (good as movies like Monsters Inc. are), Disney movies always took you on a journey into the most wonderful and exotic worlds that they created. The only limit was the limit of your imagination. In a sense I guess most Disney movies encompassed what being a child was really like – that whimsical-ness, the exploration, the magic and excitement. If that makes any sense!

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