Author Topic: The greatest american animated movie (in my opinion)....  (Read 3343 times)

Oskar

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The greatest american animated movie (in my opinion)....
« on: July 07, 2006, 11:12:14 PM »
Being a great fan of animation in general and anime in particular, I read with great interest the thread on animated movies. I do wish to point out that all great animated features are not just Japanese, there are a few real Disney gems. I'd like to talk abit of a movie which is today almost overlooked, and in my opinion is easily the greatest Disney of them all (and had it not been for Howl's Moving Castle, it might be my favorite animated movie of all time). Since it's a different topic, and I'm going to write a pretty long, post I thought it prudent to start a new thread.

The movie in question is Beauty and the Beast. And yes I realise that saying that the only animated movie that has gotten nominated for Best Picture Academy Award is overlooked is a little strange, but I notice that it is largely forgot when talking about the Disney oeuvre. People mention Cinderella and Snow White and the Lion King and Aladding, but they almost always forget this gem.

First of all, this movie is insanely beautiful, more so than any other Disney movie. While I certainly don't dispute that Anime is enourmously beutiful aswell, it's not the same thing. From the small town, to the great castle, to the the frightening woods, to the gorgeous ballroom, each frame is like a fantasy. It's also a fairly European style, with many European classic motifs. I don't know why that especially appeals to me, it just does. For instance the scene when the Beast fights a number of wolves in order to save Belle is just remarkable. The grey tones of the wolves and the snow and the backdrop of the black forest. Also the fight itself, which almost looks like a dance is fantastic.

The musical numbers are a great fun. Often they burst and pop with spirit, other time they're so scary I wouldn't take young children to see them.

However, what truly makes this movie so much greater than something like Aladdin is, in my opinion, it's portrayal of Belle. Almost all Disney movies has thinly veiled sexism in it, as indeed do most fairy tales. It's always the perfect Prince, beutiful and kind, who comes to the rescue of the poor Cinderella, or whomever it maybe. Even in Aladdin which features a really strong female character (princess Jasmine), it is still the brave, funny, gorgeous, and (almost) perfect Aladdin who comes to her rescue and saves her from her dreary life.

This movie works completly counter to that assumption. Belle lives in a small little town where she is the beauty, but is that all she is? Certainly not! When all the other girls in town are fawning over the town stud Gaston (whom I'll get to in a minute), she prefers reading a book, or taking are of her kooky old inventor dad. She wishes out to get out, but does not expect, nor indeed want, any help from anybody. When her dad disappears, she goes out to search for him she doesn't get help from anyone. Indeed she rescues him, and takes his place!

And what about Gaston? He is clearly a charicature, he's chavinistic, he's stupid, he's vain and just ridiculous. He is also the classic Disney hero, he has all the attributes of the classic Prince Charming, and where it another girl, he would have "rescued" her, with his strength and magnetic good looks. But not Belle. In the end we see what he really is made of when he leads an angry mob to charge the castle.

So how about the actual love interest in the movie, the Beast? He is completely different from any other male in Disney history, he is tortured, depressed, paranoid and lonely, all of which leads to him becoming abusive and very closed. It's Belle who saves him, not the other way around. One can easily interpret his origin story in Freudian terms, when he was a child he was (clearly) abondoned by his parents and have never really felt love. He got to live in a castle with only servants that followed his every word and never questioned or challenged him, and he got whatever he desired. As a result he became what he is, a depressed, tortured, abusive beast (well, the movie tells it in a fairytale way, but this is the obvious interpretation). It's not hard to make an Oedipal connection with his love for Belle.

I have lots more praise for this movie, but I think this will be enough for now. It's just so refreshing seeing a female character in an American movie be smart, brave, kind and beutiful, and for once let her act as a saviour.

Well, enough writing. Cheers!

Bucho

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The greatest american animated movie (in my opinion)....
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2006, 11:50:01 PM »
Awesome post. I saw it three or four times about ten years ago because of my girlfriend at the time and thought it was fun enough but in the Pixar age I've never been tempted to have another look until now.
"I'm a star, I'm a star, I'm a star ... I am a big bright shining star."

Reaver

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The greatest american animated movie (in my opinion)....
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2006, 10:35:57 AM »
I see all of your points, and I like your passion for it, but for my money Disney films peaked with The Little Mermaid, which I can watch over and over again without it ever getting old, whereas with Beauty And The Beast I constantly wanted more.

Oskar

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The greatest american animated movie (in my opinion)....
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2006, 11:45:53 AM »
I also really like the little mermaid, but I gotta say, here again is that theme of the girl wanting to marry the perfect Prince and him saving her from her boring life. I suppose it's a bit of a pet peeve of mine, but I really can't stand that. Why isn't it ever the girl who saves the prince? Why isn't the girl allowed to be the larger-than-life figure who everyone adores? Why is it always the guy? (then again, there has been many, many years since I saw it, I could remember the movie completly backwards. I do remember that Ariel was pretty kick-ass, so atleast she's not the passive and timid Cinderella).

However, I do admit that the Little Mermaid is an excellent film. I like Beaty and the Beast alot better though, I think it's more beautiful and the songs are so full of life, the spark and pop and really excites you (not that Mermaid's songs doesn't, Beauty's just do it..............more).

I think there is something to be said for the more traditional styles of the older Disney movies such as The Little Mermaid and The Lion King and all the others. I mean, pixar and anime looks fantastic, but they can really create that sort of magical grandure and classical beaty that Disney frequently creates (well, created at least) with their movies. I think it's sort of a shame that no one makes those kind of classically animated movies anymore. My 2 cents anyway.

Reaver

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The greatest american animated movie (in my opinion)....
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2006, 01:56:42 PM »
Quote from: "Oskar"
I also really like the little mermaid, but I gotta say, here again is that theme of the girl wanting to marry the perfect Prince and him saving her from her boring life. I suppose it's a bit of a pet peeve of mine, but I really can't stand that. Why isn't it ever the girl who saves the prince?


Well, I suppose you could say that since the Prince is in love with someone not of their land and not of their life, in a way they are saving them. Kind of a skewed way of looking at it, but such is my outlook. :)

Quote from: "Oskar"
I think there is something to be said for the more traditional styles of the older Disney movies such as The Little Mermaid and The Lion King and all the others. I mean, pixar and anime looks fantastic, but they can really create that sort of magical grandure and classical beaty that Disney frequently creates (well, created at least) with their movies. I think it's sort of a shame that no one makes those kind of classically animated movies anymore. My 2 cents anyway.


Sounds like you've never seen Miyazaki films.

Oskar

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The greatest american animated movie (in my opinion)....
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2006, 02:37:48 PM »
Quote from: "Reaver"
Sounds like you've never seen Miyazaki films.


On the contrary, I've seen both Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle as well as I've read and seen NausicaƤ of the Valley of the Wind, and I consider Howl's Moving Castle easily the greatest animated film of all time (which I did say in my original post). I think Howl's Moving Castle is a masterpiece, one of the most original and beautiful stories ever put down on celluloid. I only wanted to say that there are infact American movies that can rival even the very best of anime.

However my point is that while anime can portray extraordinary fantasy with the most original creatures and storylines, there is something to be said for the classical art of something like Beauty and the Beast. While Howl's Castle is one the most imaginative and inventive and fun things ever (and indeed quite the looker) it can't rival the Beasts castle in granduer or darkl stylishness. I mean that castle is one of the most frightening things you will ever see with its huge halls and dark inner sanctum. And the library, that stretches up hundreds of meters with thousands and thousands of books, it is just awe-inspiring.

They're both very beautiful films, but in different ways. For me, I really like the more classic european style, but there is no doubt that Miyazaki is a visual master.

Anonymous

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The greatest american animated movie (in my opinion)....
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2006, 10:07:25 AM »
As much as I enjoy all the films mentioned above, how can you guys overlook Dumbo, my favorite cartoon ever made. Its easily Disney's least ambitious work, but also its greatest. A tale of a young elephant overcoming prejudice may seem silly now but the first time I saw the film I remember being inspired to be different. And if youre not getting chocked up during Child of Mine you have no soul.