8 items from 2014
Feature Mark Harrison 5 Mar 2014 - 06:39
For every animated movie that gets made, there are dozens more that never make it. Mark looks at some failed Disney projects...
In the age of the internet, Hollywood studios are much quicker to announce the projects they have in development than they used to be. Now that the demand is there, there's a huge turnover of movie-related news every day, and if you follow it in any significant way, there are probably a whole bunch of projects that you've heard about, maybe even gotten excited about, that never came to fruition.
Still, it's not only via the easier availability of such information that we know about projects that never came to be. At a studio like Disney, projects will get as far as being fully developed in animatic form before falling apart, and the artefacts left behind from such abridged projects have made for some fascinating reading. »
“I think we’re all glad that they changed the name to Fantasia,” states Steve Martin dryly during his introduction of Fantasia 2000 regarding the film’s predecessor, which was originally called The Concert Feature. (Fantasia may be a slightly cooler-sounding title, but it’s not much more inviting to the average audience member than The Concert Feature.) That single line of dialogue represents the key to the creative struggle at the heart of Fantasia 2000, a perfectly entertaining film with no identity of its own. Though Martin is funny in his few moments on screen (all of the celebrity introductions in this new film are mildly charming in their own way, though they vary in tone from Martin’s wacky fourth-wall-breaking humor to regal sincerity, as with Angela Lansbury’s climactic appearance), the fact that a recognizable comedian needs to be one of our ushers into a world of »
- Josh Spiegel
The release of The Jungle Book on Blu-ray today has become, as when Saving Mr. Banks was unveiled a couple months ago, an unplanned forum on a most thorny issue for the Disney uber-fan: was Walt Disney a racist/sexist/anti-Semite, and if so, was he a super-racist/sexist/anti-Semite, or just your average, garden-variety racist/sexist/anti-Semite? Even though the 1967 animated film based loosely on a collection of stories by Rudyard Kipling opened months after Disney passed away, this was the last film on which he had any serious impact. And, since Meryl Streep chose to make her speech applauding Emma Thompson for her performance as P.L. Travers in Saving Mr. Banks as much about exactly how bad a man Walt Disney was, the issue of his true personal feelings–whatever those may have been–and whether or not they crept into the films he made has become unavoidable as of late. »
- Josh Spiegel
When the work of the Walt Disney Company is referenced in popular culture, it is often generalized and boiled down to princesses, Mickey Mouse, and fireworks over Cinderella’s castle as music swells. (“Get your Disney World vacation planning DVD today!”) Unfortunately, this is an extremely simplified image of the company and its legacy in feature films. In the 77 years since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the Walt Disney Company’s feature films have gone through distinctive eras. There was the rise of Disney live-action, the decade following Walt Disney’s death, the era of acquisition (Marvel, LucasFilm), and the first and second animation renaissance periods, to name a few.
To give a broader view of the Walt Disney feature film, it is easiest to look at some of these specific eras and pick out the good, the best, and the worst representations of that era. This is by »
- Rachel Kolb
Directed by Ben Sharpsteen
Walt Disney Animation Studios’ catalogue began with an artistic bang when Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Pinocchio were released to audiences. While not the commercial successes the studio fantasized about, both demonstrated the sharp if simple storytelling and, arguably more impressive, a quality of animation that seemed unparalleled at the time. The issue, alas, was the lack of monetary success (especially with the company’s other 1940 release, Fantasia), a result that discouraged Walt Disney from swinging for the fences with his next outing, Dumbo. As far as the script is concerned, Dumbo performs some extraordinarily unorthodox circus acts to tell what is an extremely simple story, which compensates for the lower quality of the visuals, even though the latter is not quite as bad as it seems upon first glance.
The story begins in Florida, »
- Edgar Chaput
One of the bright spots this past film year was the success of Disney’s Frozen. On the strength of it’s more modern princesses and an infectious score, the film set box office records and has garnered two Oscar nominations, Animated Feature and Best Original Song for “Let It Go”, its infectious hit. In honor of Frozen’s nomination, we figured it was time to take a look at the history of animated movies in Original Song.
The history of animated films picking up nominations and wins in Best Original Song is a tale as old as time (see what I did there?). Since the 1930s, animated films have won this award 13 times and over 50 nominations, which you can see below. This is an even greater feat when you think about the consideration that animated films get when lists of musicals are made (they »
- Terence Johnson
Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman
The 1970s and early 1980s represent a curious episode in the history of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ features. The famous studio rarely produces outright poor movies, yet this period is just as rarely mentioned in the same breath as its first decade or so, when classics like Pinocchio, Bambi, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs came to be, or the baptized renaissance that began with The Little Mermaid and lasted until Tarzan. It feels as though the aforementioned decade and a half feature a steady stream of decent, generally appreciated outings but nothing most people cite as being their favourite efforts. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, The Rescuers, The Fox and the Hound, Robin Hood; few if any of these make anyone’s top 5 lists. Neither does the film that opened the 1970s, »
- Edgar Chaput
London — Global Screen, which has five market premieres at the European Film Market in Berlin, has added “Auf das Leben!” (To Life!) to its sales slate.
Pic is a “Harold and Maude”-like story of two people who are very different yet give each other a reason to live. It is helmed by Uwe Janson, who was BAFTA nommed for miniseries “The Sinking of the Laconia,” and penned by Thorsten Wettcke.
The film, which shot late last year, centers on aging cabaret singer Ruth, played by Hannelore Elsner (“No Place to Go”). She is sarcastic yet warm-hearted, and, despite a traumatic childhood, stands with both feet planted firmly in the midst of life. It is only when her apartment is sold to finance a move to a senior citizens’ home that her flame begins to flicker.
- Leo Barraclough
8 items from 2014
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