Thursday, May 13, 2010

Greatest Movies That Made Going to the Movies Suck #16- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

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When Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs dropped in 1937 no one thought it would work. Walt Disney was perceived, at the time, by his peers, to be more childish dreamer then businessman and none believed that a full length cartoon marketed to children would ever make money. Film was an adult’s world and that’s where it should remain. The rest, I think we can agree, is history. Not only was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs the first of its kind but it also remains one of the best of its kind as well. There was no feeling of testing the waters with Snow White, no “we’ll fix it next time” flubs. Disney scored a masterpiece on his first try and built a legacy almost immediately. Rome may not have been built in a day but in that moment in time it felt like Disney was. Not only did Snow White bring a fairy tale to brilliant life, creating at least eight individual characters that will be remembered for the rest of film history, and not only did it prove to the big wigs that there was just as much money, if not more, in marketing films to children, but it was also a painstaking exercise in perfect craftsmanship. Every frame was drawn by hand, every detail coloured in with love. The experience was one of complete immersion: every part moved, every being came to life, every frame seemed to breathe. From this Disney created other classic masterpieces such as Pinocchio, Dumbo, Bambi, Lady and the Tramp, Fantasia, and so on. But it wasn’t always to be. In the late 60s and 70s the studio fell on hard times and the love and craftsmanship was replaced with creating assembly line works, churned out simply to meet a demand. It was in this time that Wolfgang Reitherman created The Junglebook, The Sword and the Stone, The Aristocats, Robin Hood and 101 Dalmatians. The films were serviceable but hardly the classic labours of love that Disney himself had overseen in the 30s and 40s. Instead of every frame drawn by hand backgrounds were reused, character movements were limited and the stories became less imaginative. Disney was releasing tolerable animated features, but with the lack of old Walt’s creativity, imagination and animation expertise, the effect just wasn’t the same until 1989 when the studio was once again reborn with The Little Mermaid, leading once again to a decade’s worth of hits and misses. But it wasn’t just that Disney’s achievement led to subpar animations and plenty of other studios trying to cop a feel of Disney’s magic; Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs almost single handedly changed the way the studios operated. Nowadays when multiplexes are filled up with hoards of limp and timid PG-13 horror films and action flicks in a way, that’s Disney’s fault. By showing studio bosses that kids were actually where the money was they changed their tune and outlook. All of a sudden it was in vogue to produce works that could be advertised to children who would drag their families to the theaters to see the films over and over again and buy the DVDs and the stuffed animals and the action figures and so on. As of right now, the ideal movie goer is the adolescent male. In the 20s and early 30s this was unheard of until Disney opened those doors, making it easy for studios to want to greenlight children and teen films, no matter how second rate, knowing that the audience is already built in, while films for adults not only struggle to find financing, but also venues willing to show them.

3 comments:

  1. Yeah, I thought going to the movies really sucked in the 60s. It's a time of my life I'd really like to forget. Wait, I wasn't alive.

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  2. It is a dire time, indeed.

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  3. I dunno about colored with love. Remember that Disney had to lay off some of its employees due to the subliminal messages that were found in some of the movies. I just wouldn't go so far to say "with love" maybe some of the artists were still a big part in that, but we can't forget their stupidity in the end. Besides, now that pixar is creating 3-D digital graphics everything is different. The finished masterpiece on dvd was amazing though.

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