Friday, January 07, 2011

Well-Placed Childhood

Ah, Disney. Many childhoods wouldn't be the same without them. Without revealing just how old (or young) I am, according to general consensus I am old enough to recall the majority of the 'best' Disney films. I remember getting a Woody and a Buzz Lightyear for birthday presents; I got a Pocahontas dress-up set for Christmas one year, and I had a VHS of Beauty and the Beast that I played so much the video actually turned permanently black and white.

I guess the main reason the films have such an impact on audiences (casting as broad a net across the decades of Disney feature films as I can) is that there is something for everyone. Musical numbers? Check. Cute and cuddly animals? Check. A smattering of hidden adult humour? Check. It's something kids will enjoy, and the majority of adults won't really mind sitting through.

What prompted me to sit down and write this article was the fact that I received a lovely gift for Christmas. It was the Platinum Collector's Edition of Beauty and the Beast: my all-time favourite Disney film. Before you judge me, consider this: the DVD comes with extra featurettes and storyboards, and a little booklet filled with - get this - recipes inspired by the film: beef ragout, cheese souffle (stop right there thanks). Now I'm older I can appreciate the extra features, and main feature aside, all of the extras in this DVD set are aimed at adult fans. Kids wouldn't really want to watch a 25-minute documentary about the artists.

What I'm saying is that we can learn a lot from Disney - as I watched my favourite film I recalled all my initial reactions throughout my years of watching it. From my empathy with Belle, ostracised for loving books to my  disgust at the chauvinistic Gaston, I experience the same thing nowadays when I read a book or a news report or switch on the TV. When I cowered in my mum's lap at seeing the Beast for the first time, she pointed at the screen. "Look," she said: "He may look big and scary, but I bet he gets scared too. Just because someone looks different, it doesn't mean they don't have the same feelings as you do."

Now isn't that something? How many people need to be reminded of that nowadays?

Now that I've given you something to think about, why don't you take the opportunity to use my comments box for something constructive: tell me about your favourite film as a child, and how it inspired you (it doesn't have to be Disney, I'm not biased). You can use this to fill the time between this Blog and the next one, where I'll be looking in detail at some of the lessons we learnt from children's films. Sit back, reminisce, and enjoy the warmth of your memories (either that, or you've wet yourself again, you disgusting creature.)

1 comment:

Tom said...

I actually like Gaston. He seems altogether more rational than anybody else in the Disney canon.