…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.”
As 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.