19 years ago, during Disney’s Renaissance era, the sound of gospel music was heard around Mount Olympus. Disney released another fantastic feature film, with a superb soundtrack to go with it. And most importantly, we got a new hero: Hercules.
Despite having a running success with Princesses and a Lion King, Disney chose to give us a hero for a change. Was probably a bit of a risk, as it was their first feature film based on mythology, rather than fairytale. But a risk that paid off. Pocahontas and Hunchback of Notre Dame were very serious films. Hercules is a lot more uplifting, colourful and fun, compared to the previous two.
Adapted from poems and myths, Disney’s Hercules tells the tale of Zeus’ son being kidnapped and turned into a mortal. When Hercules becomes aware of where he originally came from, he sets out to become a God again. And the only way to do that is to become a “true hero”.
Cue the music…
Hercules is definitely up there as one of Disney’s best soundtracks. Every song is catchy, and “Go the Distance” always gives me a lump in my throat. You too?
Although I recently discovered that The Spice Girls were originally asked to play the muses! Thank God that didn’t happen. The songs would not have been the same. I understand at the time they were the biggest pop band in the world, but they are NOT gospel singers. The music probably would have been a lot different anyway, but I can’t imagine Hercules without “The Gospel Truth”! Can you?
“Honey, you mean ‘Hunk-ules’!”
Our “not-so-damsel-in-distress” Meg is the love interest in the movie, but she is a very modern girl for her time. Not needing to be saved by a soon-to-be-god, Meg ‘won’t say she’s in love’ with the hero, but her sacrifice is what helps Hercules become a “true hero”.
Which brings me to the creator of Hercules’ challenges in life, the ruler of the underworld, and wannabe ruler of Olympus: Hades!
Oh yes, he is one of the coolest Disney villains, voiced by the AMAZING, James Woods. Who by the way loves playing Hades so much, he reprises his role anytime Disney needs him to, even if it’s for a computer game.
Hades brings the adult humour to the film, and the attitude. He is so determined to defeat Hercules, he throws everything at him, from the famous Hydra, to Scar! But we all know good always wins over bad. So unfortunately for Hades, he fails at becoming ruler of Olympus.
I was 11 when I saw Hercules, as it had been released here in the UK after the states of course. I remember being aware of the film long before its release. in fact, in my “The Art of Disney” book I got the previous Christmas, it finished with artwork from Hercules and Mulan. It was the last Disney film I saw while still in Primary school. 1997 was probably the last year I felt like I was a child. So there’s a lot of memories that go with this film, including the opening of my local Disney Store (at the time, Aberdeen). Hercules officially opened the store, and was the main merchandise sold for that christmas.
What about you, is there any memories you remember because of Hercules? Is it one of your favourite Disney classics?
“For a true hero isn’t measured by the size of his strength, but by the strength of his heart.” – Zeus