Every Disney fan experiences a flutter of the heart upon hearing the When You Wish Upon A Star intro. To many 90s kids, Disney was possibly the best thing about our childhood, and despite being adults now who are expected to do adult-y things with boring adult-y people, many of us like nothing more than to hang out with other like-minded Disney lovers and relive the past by watching our favourite classics.
Here’s but a handful of fantastic flicks which should be passed down to your children and your children’s children, not just for the exceptional graphics and scores, but also for the powerful lessons they can teach.
The Lion King
Where to begin with this unrivalled classic? Released in 1994, Elton John, Hans Zimmer and Tim Rice composed some of the most beautiful music for an equally beautiful animation. Such is the emotional fierceness of the opening scene, that many admit to shedding tears upon seeing the opening of both the stage and the film version. The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre in the West End and at the Minskoff Theatre on Broadway are both still going strong after 19 years. The film boasts a voice-over cast including Rowan Atkinson, Whoopi Goldberg, Jeremy Irons, Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane, and it’s because of this masterpiece that we know what a zebra actually sounds like.
Please please please, my dear readers, if you have a daughter, make sure that she watches Mulan. Fa Mulan surpasses all other Disney princesses for so many valid reasons. She doesn’t hail from a privileged background, and she shuns aside vanity for bravery. Her goal, unlike other female Disney protagonists, is not to procure a husband, and she doesn’t wait around for a man to save the day. She takes matters into her own hands by using her intelligence and sense of strategy. She is defiant and does not adhere to what is expected of her from society. Aside from this empowering theme, there are some hilarious moments thanks to comic relief provided by Mushu, voiced by the wonderful Eddie Murphy.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks
This genial 1970s film transports us back to World War II, with two of Disney’s greatest heavyweights – Angela Lansbury and David Tomlinson – as Eglantine Price and Professor Emelius Browne, who set off on a magical adventure to find the spell for Substitutiary Locomotion, in the hope that it will contribute to the war effort against the Nazis. The musical incorporates a brilliant merging of live action with animation, and we’re willing to bet that every parent had to stifle their laughter upon hearing Paul’s famous line, “What’s that got to do with my knob?”
This animated success brings together jazz lovers and crazy cat ladies. With Eva Gabor and Phil Harris lending their voices for the two protagonists, the story sees a family of pedigree cats trying to find their way back to their home in Paris, with the help of Thomas O’Malley the Alley Cat. It features a gorgeous accompaniment of jazz music, featuring none other than the great Maurice Chevalier.
Only Disney can combine Greek mythology and gospel choir and make it work. This film stars Danny DeVito, and features one of the wittiest villains Disney has ever created in the form of Hades. The script is peppered with Grecian references, rendering it a favourite amongst lovers of the Classics. It also has one of the strongest female leads, with Meg being portrayed as someone who is allowed to be human with relatable flaws who’s experienced heartbreak and disloyalty – a far cry from the usual Disney princesses.
The Jungle Book
Have a banana! I cannot but mention how utterly fabulous the latest remake of this Disney classic is. It certainly does justice to the original, and Rudyard Kipling’s story is so timeless that another adaptation by Andy Serkis will soon be released. It’s a simple but sweet story, deep in the heart of an Indian jungle. Disney flexes its imaginative muscle with Bronx mafioso monkeys, a snake with sinus problems, a rhythm and blues loving bear, military elephants inspired by British Imperialism, and vultures paying homage to the Beatles.
There are so many other masterpieces out there, that it’d be impossible to list them all. So we’ll let you fill us in with your favourites in the comment section below.