I was feeling very nostalgic this past week over the animated epics and classics I have grown up to respect and now have branded into my memory. I have rewatched a couple of these and still find them dear to my heart. Today I had hoped to tell you why these films are amazing and you need to go out and see them for yourself–or perhaps you have seen them growing up and appreciate them as much as myself–but in the end, I think it is best just to overview highlights of these animated classics.
Most folks would begin with Disney (and cover a lot of material there) so I will start off this way as well but the center of this post will be more broad than just plain old Disney, which is still dear to me, of course. Though raised homeschooled, I was exposed to the must-sees like The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and etc. Please be patient with me. This is not a list from greatest to least, least to greatest, or anything like that. This is an assorted ensemble. I do have particular favorites, though.
Perhaps one of my earliest films I “acclaimed” so professionally would be The Rescuers Down Under (1990). When my older brother and younger sister and I were younger, we used to run-in-same-spot with the opening credits and catch our breath whenever Cody woke up in his hammock of a bed. Quoting Disney classics was a big thing with my brother and I, and this one we took to Joanna and McLeach’s bout over the eggs, switching parts every other time and always laughing our heads off whenever the scene flashed across the screen. We had almost every image of the scene memorized, but it continued to make us laugh. This sequel to the ’70s The Rescuers tops the original, in my own opinion. This is a very great adventure story, set in the alluring outback of Australia.
Continuing on my Disney streak, there was a time whenever we made our much anticipated trip to the library as youngin’z that we borrowed a handful of straight-to-video releases. Among that handful was Pooh’s Grand Adventure (1997)! Some audience members look at this as a step up from the show’s too “lighthearted theme”. Others disapproved of the slightly darker, more scarier Pooh story for kids. I remember having the jitters from thinking about the Skullasaurus. Yet this is another example of a true adventure story from my childhood, but with characters you grew up with and related to in your own way (I was confused with being Eeyore for a time by my mother). So on that note, my taste for adventure stories continued, but this one perhaps marked the more “serious” (darker, perhaps?) twist to a story I enjoyed.
Skipping ahead to the present, I just rewatched The Prince of Egypt (1998) for the first time in years and was blown away by it. I love the soundtrack and that was all I had been paying attention to for the past two years, but I finally sat down and was sucked into it. I remember watching this when I was younger and thinking it too “serious” for family movies and decided not to watch it too much. I can’t believe how silly I was to think that back then! This is a fantastic film, with a stellar voice acting cast! That is one aspect I love about this movie is the huge, international cast. Oh and the music! Oh, so good! They did a very good job at adapting the Biblical story of Moses to the screen as well, I felt. More or less an animated Ten Commandments, when you think about it. I will be watching this film again, I guarantee you. This one I call an epic of animated pictures.
When we look at “independent animated” classics, there are very few to choose from. 2D animation takes a lot of time and patience, hence a reasonable budget. Any bloke can buy a 3D animation system nowadays and create their own world in hours. So there is not a lot of indie animation films to choose from. But a prominent favorite “girly-animated-film” (yes, I just said that. That’s how I said it back then too) would have to be The Swan Princess (1994). The music: amazing. The artwork: beautiful. The story: slightly different in pacing but just as classically drawn as any Disney love story. In the end, I found this movie to be enchanting. I need to watch it again sometime soon…
Ah, now moving onto one movie I have enormous praise for, Balto (1995). Ah, one of those I will also remember and will always love. I have always had a fascination with wolves–and perhaps I have not said it enough until nowadays–and for such places like Alaska. And the humor! Now who doesn’t like Boris? I mean, the Russian Goose almost steals the movie. Okay, okay, not really. Steele is also a great bad guy for Balto. Perfect, in fact. The voice cast, though not huge, deserves a hand for their contribution to an underrated film. Yet again, this is a very adventurous story. You can see a pattern here, can’t you, eh?
I have saved the best for last:
Remember the opening scene? Remember the powerhouse of a theme over the short opening credits flowing into the off-screen dialogue of Dawson (our mouse-version of Dr. Watson). I exaggerate on the elements of this story perhaps, but this is perhaps my favorite of all of these listed on this post. I remember always loving this movie with a passion and watching it constantly. It has been a little while since I last sat down to view it, though, and I miss it to be frank. Even in my childhood (which I am still finishing, let me be clear) I found a great fascination with a good mystery, a fun story, and a swell cast of characters. The Great Mouse Detective (1986) delivers that and more! Perhaps one of the best villains Disney has ever produced goes along in this one and I love every second of the movie! If I played that silly game that if I had five movies to take with me onto a desert island and they would be. Let’s just say this would be one at the front of the list. Another adventure story. But can’t you taste the adventure after the first two minutes of the movie? Please, I encourage you to sit down and watch it.
In the end, perhaps this post did not accomplish any more than you seeing a little into my personal stash of goodies. My taste for animated classics is somewhat different than the typical moviegoer, I believe. Is that wrong? Of course not. I am curious to hear what ones you enjoy and love to rewatch and encourage others to see. I am most always open to see a new film. Animation I have a huge respect for, especially (2D). All the work the animators and storyboard artists and painters put into it, I believe it’s worth it to admire all that creativity and the artistic process they went through.