What comes to mind?
For me, it’s the plethora of characters that I grew up watching in movies. It’s the songs. It’s the feelings I had watching the stories unfold. It’s my childhood.
Now that I look back, I can see that, as far as Disney goes, I’m lucky to have been born when I was. 1985. I was able to experience all the classics right away and to be a part of all the “golden age” movies as they were released. I’ve been able to see animation styles evolve. It’s awesome.
In fact, I was surprised when I saw on the extras section of my dvd of The Little Mermaid that Disney’s animation department was almost shut down until The Little Mermaid was released and saved it. That movie signaled the beginning of the “golden age of Disney.” You see, as long as I can remember, Disney has been THE brand to turn to for creative, fun, and memorable movies packed with songs that everyone knows and loves. How could it have almost been shut down? But it was. Of course, I wouldn’t remember those rough patches Disney went through; I was only 4 when The Little Mermaid hit theaters. I’ve been hooked on Disney since. (Pun intended; that bad joke is a result of being related to my dad, sorry.)
As I think back over some stand out animated Disney movies that have come out since I’ve been alive, their themes pop up. You know that list that starts with “Everything I need to know I learned in Kindergarten”? Well, forget school. We have Disney. And here are some things I took away from some of my favorite animated stories that have come out since 1985:
The Little Mermaid (1989)
*Overprotecting your kids might keep them from what they’re meant to be.
*Think about what your choices will cost others. (Hello, Ariel, don’t make a deal with stinkin’ Ursula!)
*The one you love might not have everything in common with you, but that’s okay.
Beauty and The Beast (1991)
*Beauty is within each person, even if we have to dig deeper to find it.
*Don’t judge someone by their looks.
*Nerdy bookworms can be pretty heroines too.
*Relationships will never work if you hide who you really are.
*We don’t have to be who our parents expect us to be.
*You’re not crazy for talking to your pets; sometimes they get you more than humans do.
The Lion King (1994)
*JTT was super cute. (Just threw that one in there for Tom to make sure he’s paying attention. hahaha)
*The way we interpret things as children can affect how we behave as adults. So it’s important to be sure kids really understand what is happening. (If that one’s a bit confusing, I’m referring to Simba acting out of what he THOUGHT happened to Mufasa rather than what DID happen. Darn you, Scar.)
*Sometimes, the most unlikely people make the best of friends.
*Let go and enjoy life.
*A good family will take you back, ugly past and all, and try to be understanding.
*We should respect people because they are people, not because they are like us.
*We’re stewards of this earth and have a responsibility to take care of it, not just take over it.
*Befriending someone who is unaccepted can make a huge impact. In this case, helping a nation get its footing.
*Even the clumsy, accident-prone girls have a place and can be great. (This was a huge relief for me.)
*Trying to live up to everyone’s idea of who you should be is a sure-fire way to feel like a failure. Finding your own place is a sure-fire way to feel self-worth.
Finding Nemo (2003)
*Acting out of defiance is likely to land you in a place you never meant to go.
*Being insanely strict with your kids is likely to make them want to know what you’re trying to keep them from experiencing.
*A good parent will go wherever they have to go to save their child.
*A story of hope and love will inspire people around the world and does make them want to help. (Think of the scene where the sea creatures are telling Marlin’s story all over the world in the different oceans.)
*We will all get old eventually, and we’ll have an entire life’s story that we’ll want people to care about.
*It’s never too late to follow your dreams or to befriend someone new and play a role in their lives.
*If I could hear what my dogs think, I would have no end of amusement.
A theme that I think almost everyone has seen, though, is that Disney movies just keep magic alive. They make us sure that in every boy, there is a prince, a hero, someone who can save the day. They make us believe in every girl, there is the chance to be a princess, a heroine, a force to be reckoned with. It doesn’t matter that every Disney princess or hero starts out unhappy with something about his or her life or himself/ herself or just wants something different from the world, something more. Because we can all relate to that at some point. What matters is that they aren’t afraid to go for it. And when they do, something great happens.
Disney movies just make me happy. When I see a little girl who wants nothing more than to be a princess, who is sure that someday her prince will come, it just makes me smile. Because I know the secret that Disney knows. That those dreams do come true. For every woman who is happily married, she’s the princess with her prince charming, whatever that may be for her. And that’s pretty magical.
SO, those are some of my favorite animated Disney movies and what I took away from them.
What are yours?