This era, known as The Golden Era, is Disney’s first 5 full-length Animated Feature Films. Yesterday was actually the first time Pinocchio was shown, in New York, back in 1940. And today, Dumbo was released here, in the UK. So I thought this was a perfect time for me to look at this iconic period of Disney history, and share my thoughts.
I remember as a kid, when the first 5 were released on VHS back in the 90’s. Everyone I knew bought them, and got their free lithograph, or toy, or whatever the free gift was. But I also remember them having an “iconic” status, and being spoken about as Disney “greats” and “favourites”.
However, as I started collecting the Disney Classics on DVD and Blu-Ray, I came to realise something very surprising. While watching the special features, I found out that apart from Snow White, the rest of the films; Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo and Bambi, were not box office hits. And not all of them were critically successful either.
Despite this, the animators who spoke on the “making of” features, would always speak of the first 5 in such high regard, and often go back to the archives of the films for inspiration.
What I find so amazing about this era, is that these 5 films are all completely different, and also have their own challenges (well that would have been, at that time) and I feel Disney took risks with them. Which is really brave considering he was the first to make animated feature films.
But seriously, apart from Snow White, if you look at Pinocchio, it’s actually quite scary. A little boy, being taken away from his dad, being seduced by strangers, SMOKING, turning into a donkey!?
Same with Dumbo, again, a BABY, left on his own because his mum has been locked up. He gets DRUNK, and then finds out he can fly with the help of a mouse and crows, without any superfision by an adult?! Am I being wierd about this or are you agreeing with me so far? OK I will continue…
Bambi hardly speaks, because, we are watching a baby deer learn to walk, talk and play, just like a real baby. And along the way we are seeing the seasons change… oh and his mother DIES! Yes that awful scene where the animators stop drawing Bambi’s mum after we hear the gun shot! BANG! What was Walt thinking?? The man had no fear!
THEN, there’s Fantasia, which is probably the most under-rated of the 5, and yet artistically it is the most BRILLIANT! The time it must have took the animators to sink their drawings to the timing and melody of these symphony’s, is AMAZING! So much patience and LOTS of talent went into making this film.
My point, in-case you haven’t figured it out, is Walt Disney was not afraid to tell the stories he wanted to tell, despite only having successful short cartoons. And even though Snow White was the only successful one out of the first 5 at that time, it didn’t stop him from making more. So, I guess I’m trying to express my appreciation for Disney’s vision and how amazing I think he was for making these 5 iconic films.
Ok I’m gona stop rambling now, and leave you with something a great man once said…
“We don’t make movies to make money. We make money to make more movies.” – Walt Disney