Thursday, July 10, 2014

Disney Princess movie watching (and blogging) update

I realize I kind of stopped blogging about my Disney-watching experience so here’s a quick update: first off – this is a great article that contextualizes exactly what Disney was up to during and after its “dark age” i.e. the thirty years between the release of Sleeping Beauty (59) and Little Mermaid. (89). I learned a lot of stuff about the company I did not know.
Since I include Disney’s version of “The Little Mermaid” in my class I am very familiar with that movie. (I especially like pointing out to my students that Ursula’s appearance was based on that of the actor/drag queen Divine). So I’m not going to blog my watching experience of it except to say that I really like certain aspects of the movie (Ursula! – the language play – the song “Part of Your World” ) and dislike others: the narrowing down of Ariel’s focus on getting Eric to fall in love with her and the extremely patriarchal ending where she gets handed off to him via her re-masculated dad. 
Probably the most detested secondary article I have my students read is a heavily psychoanalytical reading of the movie that focuses a lot on Freudian notions of sexuality—Ursula’s death is a symbolic act of penetration (instigated by Eric no less) and the father undergoes symbolic emasculation when Ursula lays her tentacles on the phallic trident. Despite the student’s dislike of the article it always seems to generate fruitful and enlightening discussions of both the movie and the fairy tale.
As the internet article I linked to earlier mentions the next big Disney flick after Little Mermaid was Beauty and the Beast, which I did see at some point when it first came out. I got really bored when I started to re-watch it and so just gave up on it. (My old dislike of feature length animation started to kick in big time…) One thing I disliked was how the movie differed from the most popular version of the tale (and the one we read in my class), by Jeanne Marie Le-Prince de Beaumont. There were no sisters, whose inner 'ugliness' highlighted her “beauty” as in Beaumont's version, and thus the fact that she is to blame for the father being taken to task by the beast, because she requested a rose as opposed to something material falls away. It also was a reminder that I really really need to watch the Jean Cocteau version from 1946. (I have always meant to but as yet have not).  I think I started watching (and enjoying) Lars von Trier’s Melancholia instead. Caus that’s how I roll…
Moving on to the Disney movie I think I watched slightly before Beauty and the Beast since it was available on streaming as opposed to only as a dvd (The bigger the hit the less likely a movie will be available for streaming) – Pocahontas (1995). I actually kind of liked it (or at least did not hate it as much as I thought I might...) despite its completely fantastical take on Early American history. Apparently when it first came out it was totally eclipsed by The Lion King that came out at almost the same time, and was the biggest animated hit Disney ever had. I liked the talking tree, and the song Colors of the Wind and was not too bothered by the idealized perhaps even exoticised depiction of Pochahnatas herself.  That being said it’s not a movie I'd want to see again. 
I do realize I have skipped over Aladdin (1992), which I'm not sure whether I’ve seen or not. I think I may have. I know it has funny bits because Robin Williams voices the genie. The reason I skipped it is that I have to get it on dvd, so it will take me a bit longer. After that the next official Disney princess is Mulan 1998 which I am waiting to see when I'm in the right (mellow?) mood I need to be in to at least halfways appreciate these flicks. I could also watch The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) since it's on/in the streaming menu-but I think I'll focus on the actual Disney Princess movies first. Oh and I'm not going to waste my time watching ANY of the sequels to the actual movies....enough is enough! 
This has been my go-to list for all the Disney movies and it reminded me of the fact that both Tim Burton and Hayao Miyazaki have made films that have the Disney name/brand attached to them in some fashion. While I have seen some of Tim Burton’s movies I'm not sure I've seen any of the ones with the Disney name. And as shocking as it may sound I don't think I've ever watched a Miyazaki movie-despite intentions to do so. I will do so as soon as the time and mood etc. is right-promise!