Bleats

The Original Disney Cartoons Will Always Be More Exciting Than Live-Action Remakes Because Realism Is Restrictive

Live-Action Aladdin looks great, but comparing the newly-released 'Prince Ali' clip to the cartoon original makes a clear point.

Disney has released yet another clip from the live-action remake of Aladdin ahead of its upcoming May 23 release, giving us a sneak peak of their take on the iconic ‘Prince Ali’ musical scene.

With Will Smith’s giving a great vocal performance as Genie and the parade of dancers looking tight, the musical number is very impressive. But it also looks like something you could see on stage at a live broadway performance.

It is, for the most part, realistic.

The box-office numbers speak for themselves, indicating that Disney’s live-action remakes are definitely enjoyable – even if just because we have such a nostalgic love for the originals. But by nature of being ‘real’, the remakes are less exciting than their cartoon/animated counterparts.

When the scenes are cartoon animated, everything is possible and everything is exaggerated. Nothing is bound by physics, or facial realism or realism of any kind. That’s why the ‘Prince Ali’ scene from the original Aladdin is so full of energy – along with the fact that Robin Williams’ comedic performance is bursting with irresistible energy.

Cartoons bring the fantastical to life, and live-action is restricted by the nature of trying to appear real.

This is the same situation that the live-action Lion King has run into. As a film, it looks like an incredible production in its own right. But when compared to the original, the CGI realism of the animals allows for less creative personification of the characters.

Simba excited to play with Zazu.

Simba after dad died

This is not to say that the live-action remakes are not impressive and enjoyable productions. There is something uniquely satisfying about seeing our favourite Disney films recreated as if they could exist in our own world.

But they do not have the same fantastical freedom that makes the cartoon/animations so exciting, and expecting them to is setting ourselves up for disappointment. The originals will always be better, and the live-action remakes are just a bonus.

Forget What You Know Because Disney Flips Its Fairytale Upside Down To Champion Women In Maleficent 2

Justice for female villains.

While we might all have loved the Disney Princesses of our youth, the Disney villains are having their moment. And no one more than Sleeping Beauty’s Maleficent.

In 2014 retold its iconic fairytale with a fresh perspective in Maleficent, showing us how a forest kingdom’s fierce protector is driven to become the villain.

By revisiting the story and flipping the assumptions, Disney gives the female villain the character complexity she deserves. In turn, she becomes the unexpected hero, and the King our true villain.

Now Maleficent 2: Mistress of Evil is on its way to change everything you though you knew about Sleeping Beauty.

Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning reprise their roles as the dark fairy Maleficent and Princess Aurora, except this time they are teaming up and forming new alliances to protect the magical lands.

It’s not the Sleeping Beauty that we remember, because this version gives the female characters more complex characters and more active participation in the narrative (especially Aurora).

The retelling of Disney Princess fairytales allows for the narrative wrongs to be made right. The women who were dismissed, underdeveloped or merely overlooked are brought front and centre with better stories than they’ve ever had before.

Catch Maleficent: Mistress of Evil in cinemas from October 17.

The One Disney Movie They Really Can Not And Should Not Turn Into A Live-Action Remake

Some stories do not belong in 2019.

Disney is having a good run revamping the old classics of our childhood into 20th century live-action films that are just different enough to pass as a new movie. We get to enjoy the films of our youth all over again and they take home the cash – it’s a win win.

We’ve had live-action adaptations of hits including The Jungle Book, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Beauty and the Beast, and the list goes on. On the horizon we have live-action Aladdin, Lion King, Mulan and that list goes on as well, with Disney promising even more yet unannounced for the future.

It seems like Disney won’t be finished with this business venture until every film in their catalogue has been transformed into a modern-day live-action tale. But there is one film that they really shouldn’t remake:

Pocahontas.

The 1995 Pocahontas cartoon film was actually my favourite of the whole Disney princess line up, but it’s not a narrative that Disney can get away with in 2019. They really should never have gotten away with it in the first place, but alas, the 90s were not a time of copious wokeness.

Although I have a nostalgic love for this movie and truly believe it has the best original music, Pocahontas is a deeply problematic, inaccurate, white-perspective narrative of race relations between early American settlers and the Indigenous American people.

The princess film projects a classic romance narrative over the narrative of colonisation. It fits into a tradition of European storytelling that idealises the civilising of beautiful Indigenous women, and frames the clash between the settlers and the native people as a fair fight, where no one is ostensibly right or wrong.

In reality, colonisation was responsible for the displacement and genocide of Indigenous people (not just in America) and the affects of that and the consequent systemic racism are still experienced by Indigenous people today. Also, Pocahontas was a real woman, and  the real story of Pocahontas is not a the simple love story that we fell for in 1995.

If Disney was to make a live-action version of Pocahontas (which has arguably been done by other films telling her story), it would need to be a vast departure from their original. It would need to be a nuanced rewrite of the story they sold, it would need to involve Indigenous writers ensuring it’s told with an Indigenous perspective, and it would need to accurately portray the trauma inflicted on Native Americans by colonisation.

That’s unlikely to be a film added to Disney’s live-action collection, so it’s best to not adapt Pocahontas at all.

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