It’s a phrase I’ve heard more than a few times, and I’m sure I’m not the only one, many people are surprised when they first meet me how much Disney plays a part in my everyday life.
It all started with a mouse … for as long as I can remember Mickey and Minnie have been in my life, we have old family photos of my older sister dressed as Minnie mouse at the age of maybe 6 or 7, we still own a Mickey mouse cool bag that we used to take on family holidays and days out, and Mickey and Minnie plates and bowls were a key part of every meal. But I don’t think that all too unusual a story for a child growing up in the 90s.
Throughout my child hood I can remember Disney always being there, my first memory of going to the cinema was to see the live action version of 101 Dalmatians. That Christmas most if not all of my presents were 101 Dalmatian related. I remember the going to see the first Pixar film at the cinema just me and my dad, A Bug’s Life my dad fell asleep and I was terrified of Hopper. By the age of 9 or 10 I was obsessed with the Jungle book and watched it at every opportunity, my dad still knows all the words to the songs and will sing along if it’s on.
During my early teens Disney stayed with me though it took on new forms, Disney’s Sing Star was a favourite as well as well as the Disney skate extreme game for Playstation 2, later in my teens Pixar started to gain momentum and this is where things started to escalate.
July 2006, sometimes it’s hard to pin point the exact time something in the universe shifts into place, but in this case, it couldn’t be more obvious. This was the turning point where Disney became a permanent fixture in my life with the release of the Pixar film Cars. This may surprise some people, the film did well with the critics and also at the box office, but it isn’t one most people would consider a favourite, nor is it particularly important in the history of Pixar or Disney, but to me this was more than important, it was life changing.
Something in the film struck a chord with me, and even to this day I couldn’t pin point exactly what, I like everything about the film, I enjoy the story, the characters, the music, I don’t think I couldn’t really fault it in any way and I was hooked, to date I think I’ve seen the film somewhere in the region of 300 times, I can pretty much quote any line, I collected merchandise, read up on facts about the film and its production I loved, and still do, anything to do with that film. And that’s where everything began.
So what is it about Disney that keeps me hooked?
This is one of the biggest factors for me, the humour in Disney films really isn’t just for kids, I love the way jokes of all different levels are incorporated into the films, some more obvious than others. Take Disney’s newest offering Zootropolis for example, all throughout the city there are clever references that poke fun at companies and products we are all familiar with, but they are changed to blend in with their surroundings. Disney have a way of including jokes for adults that aren’t noticed by children and don’t seem out of place in family films, and this is key to their success in appealing to all ages.
The story telling.
The most important part of any film is the story and Disney are the masters of storytelling. A good example of this is Up, Pixar’s film from 2009, at the start of the film there is a montage of main character’s Carl and Ellie’s life together and the story of their romance, this sequence only lasts a few minutes but is known for how emotional and descriptive it is. And up is not unique in this sense, in Wall-E there is a large portion of the beginning of the film where there is little dialog as main character Wall-E falls in love with his robot companion Eve.
And let’s not forget some of the most emotional Disney moments from years gone by, Mufasa’s death, Bambi’s mother, the toys in the furnace in toy story 3, when Dumbo visits his mother with Timothy Mouse, Disney has a way of pulling on all of our emotions that is like no other.
The Sherman brothers. A team that wrote more motion picture musical songs than any other, and an asset to the Disney team. One of the most memorable parts of many Disney films is their incredible soundtracks, songs that you can’t help but sing along to and can’t get out of your head for hours, and sometimes days, afterwards! Over the years Disney have won countless awards for their musical scores that you can’t help but appreciate, from Mary Poppins to High school musical, music is a massive part of the Disney magic.
This one is massive for me, having studied games design at university, animation, in all forms is something that has interested me for a long time, Disney are constantly pushing the boundaries of technology and animation techniques, and this is often evident in their shorts before feature films, I’m constantly amazed by how realistic Disney are able to make even the most unrealistic of things and I’m always excited to hear and see what is coming next. I love the way they play with different styles from the classic animation of sleeping beauty and snow white, to the 3D worlds of wreck it ralph and the Incredibles, to the unusual style of animated shorts paperman and feast.
So if you ask me, you can never be too old to appreciate Disney, it has something for everyone, and something I hope to continue to enjoy and follow for many years to come.