Disney films are historic. They are films, for many of us that were our first experience of seeing a film which was bold in colour and magical in story. Disney films are a part of a lot of childhoods, whether you were first introduced to princesses who also lived under the sea, dogs sharing pasta whilst being serenaded by Italians or wondering if it was possible to actually be friends with a panther and a bear.
With the release of Kenneth Branagh’s glossy $300 million re-boot of Cinderella being released just earlier this month, does this mean we’ll be seeing more of our childhood brought to the big screen?
This isn’t a first for Disney, they took the reins on Tim Burton’s fantasy flick, Alice in Wonderland (2010) and transformed it from its Crayola coloured 1951 release, as well as 101 Dalmatians (1966) in which we saw the animated black and white dogs leaping all over the fox covered coat of Cruella De-Vil. With both films hailed as successes by critics, Disney took note and began planning to bring the imaginative, wild and wonderful characters to our screens.
Although it is a slow moving train, moving it is. Disney currently have several films in the waiting room, all live action, including Beauty & The Beast, The Jungle Book, Dumbo and Alice Through The Looking Glass, a sequel to Tim Burton’s 2010 re-make. The re-makes will also debut in the next few years, but already people are wondering if making their beloved classics into multi-million dollar hits is the best thing for them.
Disney classics are imagined and loved for what they are. A story that may never occur in this day and age, but beautiful and imaginative, full of interesting characters, some human, some animal, the age old story of true love and happiness. I’ve heard people say before they would want to live their lives ‘like a Disney movie’ meaning that they want to live in the day dream, bubble world in which the characters meet happily ever after endings. Even though the prospect of seeing your favourite characters brought to the big screen is appealing, some had doubts as to whether it’s a good idea to transform a ‘classic’.
Live action Dumbo to go with Cinderella, Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast? Disney, stop relying on that body and make originals. Ta.
— Andy (@YoJonez) March 11, 2015
Had no idea Disney were making Beauty and the Beast (my second favourite Disney film) live action, but casting Emma Watson is a good choice.
— Jake George Potts (@ShakeyJake25) January 26, 2015
Why is disney seriously live action remaking EVERY movie. Now they’re doing dumbo. My favorite but Just why.
— ✨Ken✨ (@TheJayKatz) March 27, 2015
soon there’s a live action movie of every disney classic out there
— LL (@sassyjusticar) March 16, 2015
Released only this month, Cinderella scored rave reviews for its transformation from animation to live action. The Time’s Kate Muir called it a ‘sumptuous, candy-coloured rush of romance’ whilst The National’s James Mottram described it as ‘a balmy but beautiful take on both the 1950 cartoon and the original Charles Perrault fairy tale’. Though it wasn’t all rave reviews, as the message that was being portrayed in the film didn’t sit too comfortably with some viewers. The Telegraph’s Victoria Lambert discussed that she wouldn’t allow her 10 year old daughter to see the film due its approach about body image, she commented ‘What I dislike about Branagh’s version is that his vision is one in which young women are most attractive when they have a waist the size of a pre-teen’. Branagh was quick to defend his film, as was Cinderella herself, Lily James said the qualms viewers had regarding her waist were ‘irrelevant’ with Branagh agreeing, he commented‘ ”If you look at our ball [scene], it’s full of diversity. It’s full of every kind of shape.’
This isn’t the film time the re-makes have been criticised, perhaps for their ‘too much of a realistic’ view. Tim Burton’s 2010 Alice in Wonderland was criticised for its ‘drug references’ referencing back to the caterpillar who smoked a pipe with some form of substance steaming out and swirling around the already delirious Alice. Disney’s Maleficent (2014), an adaption of Sleeping Beauty, was heavily criticised for a scene in which Angelina Jolie’s wings were cruelly ripped off her back, with many viewers including Jolie confirming that the scene was very much a ‘metaphor for rape’
Although with a new list of re-makes coming our way, we should not be quick to judge. Re-makes have somewhat of a bad rep if they don’t live up to the expectations of the viewer. With Disney, they have the power of adding big stars (Emma Watson, Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray & Johnny Depp) and being able to transform coloured sketches into something big and beautiful. What the re-makes aim to do is recapture the magic that once was portrayed on screen, and we shouldn’t be too quick to shoot down the idea that the re-make won’t live up to the original. For some re-visiting films in a later part in life reminds them of the reason they loved the classic so much in the first place.
There has been discussion that the live action re-makes ruin the classic story that was once brought to the screen. With the discussions of rape and body image very much strong and important in this day and age, should Disney films really be brought to the screen? Or should they be kept as classics where such subjects aren’t discussed?