This post looks at the film that continues the Disney legacy after his death. All of the films from now on are conceptualised and created without any input from Disney at all. We see a surge in humanised animals with some films pulling this off more successfully than others. This period was quite a dark time for the studio because the films were not well-received critically with the exception of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. I still enjoyed watching all of these films when I was younger and although they may not rank as highly as others have, there is plenty to love about these offerings.
Here are the previous rankings:
Let’s go ahead and look at Disney films 21-25:
21) Robin Hood (1973)
The first film post-Disney is another Medieval tale. The story of Robin Hood, the man who stole from the rich to give to the poor in a bid to rebel against the corrupt, thumb-sucking Prince John, is retold with animals. The film contains repeated sequences such as the dance scene taken from Snow White as well as familiar characters such as Robin’s sidekick, Little John, who is just like Baloo from The Jungle Book (both characters were voiced by Phil Harris) and Sir Hiss who is very similar to Kaa, also from The Jungle Book. It’s a fun film to watch with plenty of action and lots of different characters to root for which is great for the majority of the film; however, there are some scenes where the action can be a little too chaotic, mainly when there is a conflict. It’s hard to focus where Robin is because there are so many characters. My favourite supporting character is Toby, a shy turtle who is whisked on an adventure to meet Maid Marion, Robin’s true love. I think a lot of the films made during this decade suffer from a lack of character development which could be due to shorter running times which don’t last longer than 90 minutes. This is particularly problematic when you have multiple characters to develop and could be why the studio decided to create similar characters to what the audience has seen before. Nevertheless, it is a enjoying film to watch and has earned its cult following in recent years.
22) The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)
One of the most classic Disney films featuring an ensemble of iconic Disney characters and adapted from the stories by A.A. Milne, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh follows young boy, Christopher Robin and his animal friends who live in the Hundred Acre Wood, including Winnie the Pooh, a lovable bear with an addiction to honey. With the addition of the adorable Piglet and the gloomy Eeyore among others, the group go on lots of adventures. The stories are lovely and enjoyed by people of all ages, my favourite in this film is “Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day” in which we see the introduction of hyperactive tiger, Tigger, who baffles Pooh with his talk of “Heffalumps and Woozles” that steal honey. Pooh’s nightmare, including the song “Heffalumps and Woozles” is genuinely terrifying as he fights to protect his honey. It has a similar, trippy tone to “Pink Elephants” from Dumbo. Disney’s adaptations of Winnie the Pooh is globally adored and I can’t imagine how much money the studio has made from the merchandise based off it. I think that The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is a film that is timeless and could be introduced to any generation and loved accordingly. What makes it so accessible is its ability to teach life lessons without feeling like a lecture and also there are no real villains. Each character has their positives and negatives which makes them more relatable to the audience.
23) The Rescuers (1977)
Disney’s second release in 1977 is a lot darker in tone than its predecessor. The Rescuers follows two mice, Hungarian aristocrat, Bianca and bashful cleaner, Bernard as they embark to the Deep South to rescue a little girl from her abusive aunt. Much like the recent offerings from the Disney studio, there are an array for animals that we encounter aside from the mice, including the lovable dragonfly, Evinrude. The film was pitched in 1962 but Walt Disney shelved it due to its political content. It feels as though the writers were away of this and tried to tone Penny’s background and the abusive relationship down but this is creates a flaw in the film. By attempting to simplify the politics in the film actually creates an imbalance in the writing. The scene in which Penny is forced underground to retrieve a huge diamond is terrifying and the tone of this scene should have been carried throughout the film but when this scene happens, it appears out of place. I do enjoy watching this film, particularly the aforementioned scene as it does bring something new to the table. The villain, Madame Medusa, is Penny’s abusive aunt who is a greedy individual willing to do anything to be rich. Her ruthlessness and evil nature make her a Disney villain who is often overlooked. She also has two pet crocodiles which makes her all the more terrifying to me. The Rescuers is often referred to as the first Disney film to spawn a sequel, The Rescuers Down Under. This film was a huge success critically and commercially on release and it’s a real shame that, despite its shortcomings, it appears to be forgotten as a Disney classic.
24) The Fox and the Hound (1981)
Following the success of The Rescuers, the Disney studio decided to bring another sombre topic for its next feature. The Fox and the Hound is a tale of friendship between two unlikely animals (I’m sure you can guess who) and how nature tears them apart as they grow up with Tod the fox being th;e target for Copper. This film has a starry cast including Mickey Rooney and Kurt Russell as Tod and Copper, respectively. It’s definitely not among the best films Disney has released but it’s beautifully drawn and the passion for the story is there. I think the film’s shortcomings come from the writing. It feels too fast-paced for a film that is all about characters. The titular characters should be more fleshed out than they are beyond the simple hunter/hunted dynamic that they ended with. Since the film is set within a forest, it could have been easy for Disney to create similar characters as Bambi, but they probably learned from Robin Hood and its similarities to The Jungle Book and created the characters and their personalities from scratch. Even Big Mama, a caring owl is the polar opposite of Friend Owl from Bambi. The Fox and the Hound is a film that definitely has flaws but it makes up for this with its heart.
25) The Black Cauldron (1985)
The first PG rated film in Disney history, The Black Cauldron is often known as the film that almost bankrupted the company. Set within a Medieval Welsh landscape, the film follows Taran, a young peasant boy who longs to be an Arthurian style hero. When tasked with hiding his master’s psychic pig from the evil Horned King, Taron finds himself in a world beyond his depth as he battles against the evil that threatens the land. It’s a film of extreme fantasy, filled with mythical creatures. The extravagant budget was used on top notch animation, leaving the substance high and dry in a bid to save the studio from its recent failures. The brilliant thing about this film is that it isn’t afraid to get dark and ugly, which is something that appealed to me when I was younger. Despite its mixed reaction, I love this film a lot and always enjoy watching it for the detail. I agree with the criticism that the narrative and characters fall flat, but the animation is pushed past the edge and brings the audience something new and revolutionary that hadn’t been seen since the first few Disney films. Also, I must mention the brilliant voice work by the late John Hurt who adds a layer of terror to the evil Horned King. I don’t think that this film gets the praise it truly deserves for its contribution to animation. There are numerous scenes that I love, particularly those that take place at the Horned King’s castle. It’s a film that inspires me in terms of how far the envelope can be pushed.
Now we’re well into the Disney ranking journey and it’s getting harder and harder to slot the films into the table because the quality is so high.
Here is my ranking:
1) Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
2) Fantasia (1940)
3) Sleeping Beauty (1959)
4) Bambi (1942)
5) The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)
6) Alice in Wonderland (1951)
7) The Aristocats (1971)
8) One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)
9) Peter Pan (1953)
10) The Three Caballeros (1945)
11) Pinocchio (1940)
12) Dumbo (1941)
13) The Black Cauldron (1985)
14) The Jungle Book (1967)
15) The Sword in the Stone (1963)
16) Cinderella (1950)
17) The Rescuers (1977)
18) Robin Hood (1973)
19) Lady and the Tramp (1955)
20) The Fox and the Hound (1981)
21) Fun and Fancy Free (1947)
22) The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)
23) Saludos Amigos (1943)
24) Melody Time (1948)
25) Make Mine Music (1946)
As always, let me know what you think of the films discussed in this blog and where you would rank them! Comment below!