Once a Disney Baby
Today, I'm more of a Disney Boycotter . . . and if you've seen anything produced in the past decade and shown on the Disney Channel, then you won't need me to explain.
Yet it's only fair that I post this tribute to the Golden Age of Disney. I tricked Noxxtis into creating her Top 5 Female Vampires when she thought I was doing research for a list of my own, so now I believe I owe her an answer to something she asked me at XYZ Tutorial Centre:
"Teacher Enbrethiliel, who are your favourite Disney guys?"
Knowing that at least one person in the whole universe cares, I share with you--
My Top 5 "Disney Guys"
1) Robin Hood of Robin Hood
So he's a critter. How does that matter? He's also funny, kind, loyal, brave, romantic, and beloved of all the children in England. (He likes them back, too . . . and knows how to make them feel special on their birthdays.) All his soft, fluffy fur is actually a bonus. Yes, he's a real fox! ;)
Then there's the archery! I'd say, "Chicks dig the archery," but I think I should keep animal metaphors at a minimum when discussing such a character.
If Disney had made this movie after its 90s "Renaissance," the producers would have hired someone with a plucky "boy band" voice and completely ruined the character. As it stands, Robin is voiced by veteran theatre actor Brian Bedford, who has played virtually every good role in Shakespeare but Hamlet. I think this movie planted the seeds of what is now a full-blown fatal attraction to character actors who can read Shakespeare: Jeremy Irons . . . Tobias Menzies . . . David Tennant . . .
2) The Tramp of Lady and the Tramp
Here we have the only "Bad Boy" in Disney mythology who finds real redemption. He would have been all right as he was--and after the incident with the rat, I think Lady would have forgiven him, anyway--but what makes him such a great "Disney guy" is that he decides he wants to be better than just "all right."
He certainly compares favourably to that other Disney "Bad Boy" Aladdin, who is all flash. The Tramp has some real flaws to overcome and a difficult choice to make between freedom and family; Aladdin is just poor and oppressed, and he gets a genie to do all the hard work of character development for him. And of the two of them, it isn't the Tramp who has the kiss of death that is the "boy band" voice!
I also happen to really love Lady (who would be on my Top 5 "Disney Girls" list), so the Tramp's final decision is totally a point in his favour. That they also share possibly the most romantic first date and first kiss in all of cinematic history is just icing on the cake.
3) Prince Philip of Sleeping Beauty
And now we have the only "Prince Charming" figure from "Golden Age" Disney who has a personality of his own. He's good friends with his horse, forgives the pranks of woodland creatures, is willing to marry a peasant girl, doesn't bat an eyelash at tiny glowing fairies, and takes down a dragon from the pit of hell. (Be still, my heart!)
He also has the most fantastic line in the whole movie: Now, father, you're living in the past. This is the fourteenth century!"
So it's really too bad that he--and Aurora--don't get to speak at all during the second half of the movie. Did you ever notice? Maleficent and the three fairy godmothers still have lines, but Philip and Aurora are completely silent. Perhaps the music is meant to speak for the two lovers, and I'm sure that in Tchaikovsky's ballet--or Disney's Fantasia--it would do perfectly. At least Philip's actions are worth volumes . . . but I always wonder what Aurora said to her brave prince after she saw him again.
4) The Beast of Beauty and the Beast
Raise your hand if you were one of those little girls who was appalled at the end of this movie, when the cuddly, furry, fluffy Beast turned into a nondescript human for whom the only good thing to be said is that at least he's not Gaston. (Yes, I can totally relate.)
The Beast may be a really big jerk, but he's also kind of fun to have around. Even his servants, who you'd think would hate him the most, actually seem to like him and certainly take all his temper tantrums in stride. They are also unusually optimistic that Belle will fall in love with him. It's not just the breaking of the curse that motivates them; they truly want him to be happy! How many other marks in his favour do we need?
Then there is his voice. (I cannot stress the importance of a Disney Guy's voice!) I understand that he had to be human again before the banns could be read, but did he have to lose that gloriously gruff voice??? It was half his character!
5) Bert of Mary Poppins
It would be wrong to say that Bert is the only non-animated character on this list, because he is seriously animated in his own live-action way.
His attempt at a bit of magic may not have impressed Mary Poppins, but everything about him has always impressed me! Anyone who can play in a one-man band, draw chalk pictures on the sidewalk, sell balloons and kites, and see the beautiful side of being a chimney sweep, is seriously wonderful. Then there's the dancing! Bert totally completes this list.
The orignal novel by P.L. Travers is lying on my bedside table right now, waiting to be read. I'm reminded of my friend Cathy's decision never to read it because she doesn't want Disney's interpretation of Mary Poppins spoiled for her. I'd be more afraid of Disney's interpretation of Bert being spoiled for me!
Image Sources: a) Disney's Robin Hood DVD, b) Lady and the Tramp DVD, c) Disney's Sleeping Beauty DVD, d) Disney's Beauty and the Beast DVD, e) Disney's Mary Poppins DVD