Monthly Archives: April 2012

Disneyland: The happiest place on earth

“To all who come to this happy place – welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past and here youth may savour the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, dreams and the hard facts that have created America with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.”

— Walter E. Disney, July 17, 1955

As a kid who has yet to experience the magic of Disneyland, it’s almost torture as those around you make the trip. I remember feeling an intense amount of jealousy when a classmate would announce an upcoming family trip. Being the oldest of many, many siblings, a family trip was an almost certain impossibility. My mother knew of this longing first hand. Being from a large family herself, she would often tell us kids that during one family road trip to Southern California, each of the kids knew they were but miles away from the park but the hope of stepping inside was merely a dream.

My first trip to the Magic Kingdom was the summer after I graduated high school. I made the trip down the west coast of the United States with my dear friend Laura and her parents. Walking through the front gates, I was in complete awe. There is an indescribable magic to every cog in the Disney theme park wheel. Everything runs like clockwork, sparing no expense at the delight and whimsy of guests. It is an experience I won’t ever forget, the magic only eclipsed by our visit to Disney World last September.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Lady and the Tramp (1955)

A spaghetti dinner for two.

Lady and the Tramp is a sharp turn from classic Disney film making, while staying faithful to the emotional and fantastical storytelling tradition. The film marks the first time an original story was told, as well as the biggest shift in animation technology since the multi-plane camera used in Snow White.

Walt Disney spent much of his childhood in Marceline, Missouri. He moved there from Chicago as a young boy and it was in Marceline that he made his first friends, began animating and fell in love with small town farm life. Marceline was a railway town, relatively prosperous, had a local cinema and shops along a downtown corridor. It was a piece of heaven in the middle of no where, connected only by dirt roads and the railway, and although never explicitly stated, many believe Marceline to be the inspiration for the town in which Lady and the Tramp was set. Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Peter Pan (1953)

Peter, Wendy and the boys head off to Neverland.

I always forget how much I love Peter Pan until I actually get around to watching it again. It’s 77 minutes of non-stop fun with swordfights, mermaids, pirates and that pesky crocodile. Arguably Disney’s first animated adventure film, the source material is derived from J.M. Barrie’s classic tale of the boy who never grew up. As we’ve noted before, Peter Pan was one of two books seen in the background of a scene in Pinocchio. Walt had been working on bringing Barrie’s beloved story to the big screen since 1939 (and spent the four years prior acquiring the rights), and the studio spent $4-million and 14 years to finally pull it off.

Peter Pan had long been a popular production for live theatre groups, and in that environment a few traditions arose to add to the symbolism and mythology of the story. Walt decided to observe what’s probably the biggest, but let another two big ones slide.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Alice in Wonderland (1951)

Alice and the Caterpillar

How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!

Let’s get this out of the way early: Alice has a severely short attention span. The setup for the film, which combines Lewis Carroll’s two classics Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass is essentially summarized thusly:

“Do your homework.”
“No! In my world there is no homework.”
“Pay attention to this book.”
“No! It has no pictures in it!”
“Recite after me.”
“Oooh! Pretty rabbit! Let’s go chase it!”

And so she crawls into a rabbit hole and tumbles head over heels into the rest of the story. The film, as far as adaptations of classic literature go, is remarkably faithful to its source material. Only one character (the doorknob who first teaches her about the “drink me” and “eat me” magic) is an invention that doesn’t appear in the books. Much of the dialogue is drawn straight from Carroll’s text and the gleeful violence of the Queen of Hearts beheading her subjects left-and-right is not softened by Disney’s idealist brush.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: