For the next few blog posts, I will be ranking all of the Disney animated Classics from best to worst (in my opinion of course). I say worst really loosely because I honestly can’t think of a Disney animation that I truly hate . I will review 5 at a time before listing a ranking at the bottom of the post. The likelihood is that Snow White will probably come first as it is one of my favourite films overall but there are plenty of Disney films that get my love as well.
The definition of a ‘Disney Animated Classic’ is it must have had a theatrical release. Therefore, with the exception of The Rescuers Down Under (1992) and Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018), no sequels are included in this list as they were all direct to DVD releases.
As ever, feel free to comment with your own personal ranking. The best thing about blogging is being able to have discussions with people who also love film so I am really interested in hearing what you all have to say!
Nevertheless, here’s my reviews of Disney animations 1-5:
1) Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
The one that started it all, I have already made my love for this film clear in a blog post that you can read here. An adaptation of the classic Grimms’ fairy tale, Disney fought all odds to prove initial critics wrong when they believed audiences wouldn’t have the attention span or interest in an animated feature and it paid off big time, giving Disney the revenue to build the iconic Disney Studio and start an empire that would become synonymous with the American Dream.
2) Pinocchio (1940)
Following the success of Snow White, Disney took on another classic tale, an adaptation of Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio. The story of a wooden puppet brought to life is charming and contains the classic song “When You Wish Upon a Star”. Pinocchio must show that he can be a good boy in order to become a real boy but he struggles, despite strong effort from his sidekick, conscience Jiminy Cricket. I actually think that Pinocchio is one of the darker films in the collection. It is full of manipulative characters such as Honest John and the evil Coachman and with scenes such as Pleasure Island and the encounter with Monstro the whale, Pinocchio is a tale of morality and questions what it actually means to be a good person.
3) Fantasia (1940)
The brilliance of this film cannot be talked about enough. Proving that he is willing to push even more boundaries in filmmaking, Fantasia looks at the relationship between animation and music. With music composed by Leopold Stokowski, the audience is transported into worlds of abstraction to clear stories filled with memorable characters. It’s hard not to think about “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” segment with Mickey’s iconic wizard hat and red cape. My personal favourite is the closing “Night on Bald Mountain” with it’s brilliant gothic colour palette, haunting beginning and middle as chaos ensues before evil becomes eclipsed by light giving the film a beautiful gently lit ending as “Ave Maria” is sung.
4) Dumbo (1941)
There are plenty of scenes and aspects of Dumbo that I love. The tale of the big eared elephant has touched the hearts of many since its release. It’s important message on how differences shouldn’t matter is one that resonates with all people. With songs that range from the melodic “Baby Mine” to the trippy “Pink Elephants on Parade”, Dumbo is film that seamlessly switches tone in a matter of minutes. Its short running time actually feels longer because of this. However, with all this said, it is not a film that has entirely dated as well as other classics due to its racial profiling with the Jim Crow scene criticised for its use of stereotypes and the disturbing imagery given in the song “Song of the Roustabouts”. It definitely makes Dumbo an uncomfortable film to watch with this in mind.
5) Bambi (1942)
One of the most charming films in the Disney library, Bambi is the story of a deer who learns the way of nature and life in the forest. The animation in this film is second to none and I definitely find myself appreciating it more every time I watch it. The beauty is that there is no strict plot in Bambi, it shows life happening to him and how he is affected from learning how to walk, to talk, make friends to the unforgettable scene where his mother is killed by an unseen hunter. The music and inevitability of the death scene is such a poignant one in the Disney library and is often referred to as the most heartbreaking moment in a Disney film and it’s easy to see why. It is a film that is unafraid to show the realities of life and the evilness of mankind. Not to mention the adorable best friend Thumper who provided the iconic line “if you can’t say nothing nice, don’t say nothing at all”. This film will break even the hardest of hearts.
So that’s the first five films all done and dusted. Now for the important part. Where do they rank?
Here is my ranking:
1) Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
2) Fantasia (1940)
3) Bambi (1942)
4) Pinocchio (1940)
5) Dumbo (1941)
All of these films are classics in their own right and this isn’t to say that those in the last couple of places aren’t bad because they’re not. I just personally prefer other ones over them. In my next blog, I will be looking at films 6-10 so keep an eye out for that.
What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know where you would rank these films in the comments below!