There are several groups of movies that I refer to as the holy trinity. For the 80's, it would be Pretty In Pink, Sixteen Candles, and The Breakfast Club, but in Disney terms, it is Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Cinderella. Last night I found myself totally engrossed in Disney heaven.
First up was, of course, the most important of the three, Sleeping Beauty. I don't care what anyone says, this is by far the most stunning of any Disney movie ever made and will probably always be so. They set the bar so high with this one, there was no where to go but down. It may be a movie you have seen dozens of times or never, but I challenge you to watch it in a different way than you're used to...watch it for the artistry of it instead of the content, i.e. don't watch the action or the storyline...look around at the beautiful backgrounds of Eyvind Earle (with obvious inspirations from Mary Blair), pay attention to the amazingly fluid movements of Aurora and Maleficent as drawn by Marc Davis, just look at it for the work of art it actually is. Even to this day, having seen that movie probably hundreds of times, I am still moved to tears at it's beauty. Can you imagine if the people at Disney Animation today were told they needed to create thousands of hand-painted, gigantic, diorama panels for backgrounds? Yeah, there would be a revolt!
The Diamond Edition also has even more "Backstage Disney" than ever before (what they call their behind the scenes features). I honestly thought I wouldn't have time to watch the other two because I get lost in hours of special features (that again, I've probably seen lots of times).
Sleeping Beauty also has the best looking prince (and the first time a prince actually had a name), the best villain of ALL-TIME, the best score, do I really need to go on? Speaking of villains, have you ever noticed that even the worst of villains have a "scaredy cat" moment? The Evil Queen runs from the Dwarfs in Snow, Scar from The Lion King is outwardly cowardly, even during his darkest moments, even my beloved Hades cowers at both Zeus and Hercules's feet, and the list goes on. Maleficent never shows weakness, she charges at her foe until the bitter end, never surrendering...that's a true villain! There is no salvation for her, no chance for change and, despite the movie Maleficent's horrible attempts at creating a backstory to explain why she is the way she is, the animated Maleficent still creates that desire to know why she is the way she is.
Speaking of Maleficent, I didn't bother to watch it as a sequel (or prequel as the case may be) simply because I didn't want my lasting glee over the beauty of Sleeping Beauty to be tainted. I'll save that movie for another night.
But enough talk, on with the trailer:
Once I did finally let go of Sleeping Beauty for the night, I moved on to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. This is one you can't really look too much at from an artist's standpoint because, considering it was the very first full-length animation film, it is a bit "creaky" artistically, but that is more than made up for in characterizations and storylines. Granted, my beloved Marc Davis animated some of Snow as well, but she doesn't have the fluidity the other two princesses have. I do often find myself just watching the dwarfs butts in the dance scene because the attention to detail they put into "cheek" movement is just short of brilliance! I would say my only real complaint with Snow White has always been her voice...it's like a chipmunk's and it drives me mad if I focus too much on it (and I have to work to not do that when I'm watching it).
Since Snow was the first, it's also the first out of the "vault", so when a new edition of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs comes out, you know you've come full Disney movie circle. When the last version came out, I happened to be in Disney World on the day and was able to buy the movie and a set of Dwarfs plush. It's one of my favorite collectibles. Of all my Disney movies, I specifically remember the ones that were purchased in Disney World and that makes them that much more special.
I did Cinderella last, mainly because she has two sequels (although I'm not really sure why she was chosen for sequels and not the other two) and I didn't know if I would have time to watch them. Of course, there is also a live-action of it, but it hasn't come out on DVD just yet (I might save Maleficent for the day Cinderella comes in).
It's obvious the animators have perfected their craft with this one because, although not the quality of Sleeping Beauty, there are moments that I find myself getting lost in the backgrounds. Any hiccups with finding their footing in the graphics of the background had long passed. Lady Tremaine (also drawn by Marc Davis (along with Cinderella) and also voiced by Eleanor Audley) is another one of those beautifully imagined characters whose movements are as fluid and graceful as the most elegant princess. And, I'm not a cat person, but Lucifer is one of my favorite Disney animals of all-time.
For those that might be interested, one of my favorite Marc Davis documentaries is one YouTube, but it doesn't have an embedding feature, so you'll have to click HERE to see it.
DISNEY MOVIE TOTALS:
Live Action - 4
Full-Length Animation - 12
Animated Shorts - 23