First of all, I need to clarify two things:
1) When I say Disney film what I really mean is the animated movie. That’s where it all started and that’s what ‘Disney’ will always mean to me.
2) For me, Disney movies are not something for kids only – it’s a genre. A genre, that holds the most magic of all cinema.
Yes. I’m a huge Disney fan and I’ve always been. I have this awesome book at home about the evolution of Disney animation and each of the now classic movies with pictures so beautiful that the book itself is one of my biggest treasures – it’s called The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation (you can get it on Amazon here) and you should buy it even if you never plan to read it as the sole purpose of just flicking through the pages is good enough.
Walt Disney has been one of my very first heroes and role models. I always admired his spirit, his imagination, his vision, his leadership. Yes, he had some flaws, but who doesn’t?
But it was the book that made me see and truly appreciate the work behind each of the beloved movies and the work of the true artists behind them – Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas, Disney’s long time animators without whom the world as you know it would simply not exist 😉 Nothing has come close to their work since and nothing ever will. I’m talking of the Seven Dwarfs, Mickey Mouse, Bambi, Dumbo and all these extremely cute and charming characters with stories so distinctive in style – they are mischievous and funny, a signature style for all the Disney films.
I think if aliens were to come to this planet and wanted to see something truly beautiful that the human race has created it should be this.
However, as much as I love the films from the classic era, it’s the 90’s that will probably always be my favorite. Not only because that’s what I grew up with, but even from today’s point of view, it seems to be a time that produced the best films as far as the stories are concerned. They’re not only beautiful to look at anymore, but the stories are much more sophisticated, too. To me, that’s the time of renaissance of the Disney animation which made the best use of its unique style, its legacy and the changing times.
With that said, my all time favorite Disney film will probably always be one that’s quite young – but which I believe, would make Walt very proud. It might not have such an artistic value as far as the drawings of the characters go – in that sense the early ones will always be the top for me and will never be surpassed. Not even by the digital animation. In fact the day Disney announced the end of their classic animation will remain the saddest day in all of history for me. But the story is compact and holds your attention even if you’re an adult.
Here’s the list of my top 6 Disney movies:
- Tarzan (1999)
This film was a big thing at the time of its release and rightly so! Unfortunately, it seems that with time it has somehow slipped from people’s memory which is a huge shame. For me it’s always gonna be the best one. Compared to the old films it has a story that’s not so simple anymore and easily keeps even the adult audience entertained. It’s funny, it’s swift, it’s modern.
That’s also mirrored in the style of the cartoon characters – there certainly hasn’t been one with a face (and body) anything like Tarzan before, it’s very edgy (same style was later used in Hercules).
And it has the best music you will get in any of the Disney movies altogether. The Phil Collins songs are just to die for. No wonder he won an Oscar for You’ll Be In My Heart which has become one of the biggest hits of the turn of the century. But what I love especially about it is that it’s not the characters who are singing this time, but the songs simply serve as a soundtrack for the story. A very welcome and refreshing change which definitely is the one thing that will always make this film stand out from all the other Disney films. (It actually promotes it into more of an adventure genre than an animated film.)
- Pocahontas (1995)
Again, not one from the classics, but one I grew up with and which actually is my favorite cinema memory. Pocahontas was the first strong female Disney character and the campaign was so huge I couldn’t wait to go and see it. At the time of its release, we were supposed to go and see it with school – unfortunately I was ill, and couldn’t make it. Later though, the schools were closed due to the flu epidemic, but luckily I was healthy by then, and so my mom took me to see it to make up for the missed school screening (I love my mom!).
I loved the film and became obsessed. I had Pocahontas puzzles, pexeso, Pogs (god, anyone still remembers this being a thing?!), sticker collection.. you name it! And I totally loved Meeko and Flip. If for nothing else it’s well worth seeing for them. (By the way Meeko’s behaviour very much reminds me of a cat’s one, I wonder if the creator had one at home… )
Oh and last but not least – it has John Smith. Yes, this cartoon character has become my first on-screen love.
- Aladdin (1992)
I was too young to go and see Aladdin in cinemas and always envied my older sis that she’s seen it. She kept raving about it, too. So, when I finally got to see it many years later, (remember those were the times when Disney films would not be shown on tv and your only chance to catch them was the cinema or the video rental shops but even those usually did not have the Disney films, at least not here in the Czech Republic), I was super excited.
And of course totally charmed. I think that Aladdin is to this day one of the very best of Disney films. The story is well elaborated AND it has the Genie so wonderfully voiced by the one and only Robin Williams. It also has the most beautiful princess to date (yes, I always wanted to look like Jasmin!). So yes, what more do you need? It has all the right ingredients: magic, exotic places, the story of a poor guy getting it all…that just never gets old! And with the beautiul Disney animation it’s a win-win.
- Snowhite and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
I need to include this one on my list not only because it’s where it all started and therefore an ultimate classic – and rightly so. But also to justify my obsession with the dwarfs. Yes, I have a whole collection of the Disney certified soft toys at home and it’s one of my biggest treasures. I don’t think there’s ever been and ever will be anything as cute and as beautiful as the Disney dwarfs. Honestly. They are the best.
The most embarrassing part about that is that I started collecting them when I was 19. That’s right, not 9 but 19. Luckily, nowadays I have my three cats that make up for my obsession with collecting teddies of all kinds.
- Dumbo (1941)
This one has traumatized me big time when I was a kid. But I loved it nevertheless. The story of an orphaned elephant whose ears are too big is probably the most moving of all the Disney movies (if you forget the beginning of Bambi for a minute). But an absolute masterpiece.
- Bambi (1942)
This one is a cuteness overload. Just look at the photo above. The characters in this film are equally beautiful as the dwarfs. The Disney animation at its best.
Here’s more of my favorite Disney movies:
Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Peter Pan (1953)
Jungle Book (1967)
Robin Hood (1973)
(This one is from some reason totally neglected, but it’s so worth seeing!)
What are yours favorite Disney films? Which one do you hold dearest to your heart? And do you have some special memories connected with any of them? Share your stories in the comments! I’d love to hear them 🙂
Oh and just one last tip – Disney movies are highly recommended to fight depression! 🙂