Disney, I’d like to commend you. You own the animated children’s movie business. You own it to the extent that I’m still not sure whether you did that 1997 Anastasia musical or not. Nobody is. And even if it wasn’t you, I mean, we all know that hardly matters. You’re the best. You were when I was a kid, you did when my mother was a kid, you may have when my grandmother was a girl, depending on how old she is.*
Your classic animations are a part of the cultural consciousness now. But let’s be honest with each other for a moment–and I think we can be, because of our long and loving relationship. You’ve taken some serious, serious liberties with history.
Now I’m not talking about the fact that Anastasia requires audiences to suspend their disbelief enough to accept that evil green spirits released by an undead Rasputin made the Russian people want Communism. The undead Rasputin? That I believe. But come on, associating the Bolsheviks with evil green spirits? At least make them evil red spirits.**
Not that you haven’t been great with attention to detail in the past–it’s uncanny they way you’re able to make animated characters look like the voice actors who play them. Example: Jeremy Irons as Scar in The Lion King. Iconic, right? Now whenever I watch The Borgias I keep expecting the Pope to push someone off a cliff into a stampede of antelope. Although, to be fair, it’s something Alexander VI would probably have done if he had half the chance.
But Disney, dear, dear, Disney, you really phoned it in with Pocahontas. When I was little, my sisters and I used to re-enact scenes from the movie. Having an unusually low and raspy voice–the product of chronic asthma and throat inflammation–I played John Smith. Imagine my dismay when I learned, years later, that all the time I was strutting around like a strapping blonde adventurer I really looked like a squat ginger leprechaun. Was it any consolation to learn that John Smith was knighted for bravery (0r most times escaping from enemy capture and publishing books about it, or something, whatever) by a Transylvanian prince?
A little. It helped a little.
I understand that you weren’t working with much. Even in the 17th century, this was not the face of a handsome man. The whole John Rolfe thing makes way more sense now. But still, you turned Jeremy Irons into a lion. You could have at least given John Smith a beard.
* She has aged beautifully, my grandmother, and it’s not empty flattery because she’ll probably never see this. Also, has anyone else noticed their mothers or aunts or grandmothers saying “when I was a girl” instead of “when I was little” or “when I was a kid.” I’ve never said “when I was a girl.” Gender neutral identifiers, people! They’re all the rage.
** And this goes for whoever made Anastasia, Disney and pseudo-Disney alike.