Category Archives: Film

1941 review shows curiosity about Disney’s magical magnetism is nothing new …

How do they do it? There’s already been enormous advance praise for the quality of the animation in the sequel to the Oscar-winning smash hit, Frozen.

How Disney‘s artists managed to achieve such powerful emotional effects in Frozen II – which launches today – has been the subject of numerous articles in print and on many leading social media sites. But curiosity about how the Disney animators achieve their unmistakable style is nothing new …

Digging through our family archives again, I’ve stumbled on this wartime assessment of a 1941 Disney movie called The Reluctant Dragon. The film was put together with the express purpose of giving fans an insight into the methods they used back then.

“Personally I’d prefer not to know Disney’s studio secrets, because it spoils the illusion”, says the 1941 reviewer.

But in the movie’s opening sequence, the following on-screen explanation suggests that the journalist’s opinion is by no means typical:

“This picture is made in answer to the many requests to show the backstage life of animated cartoons. P.S. Any resemblance to a regular motion picture is purely coincidental”.

The review was published in the Daily Express on Thursday, September 4th, 1941. The Reluctant Dragon came out in the darkest depths of World War II – and must have raised the spirits of US and UK audiences which were in dire need of some light relief. 72 minutes long, it too uses special effects which were ahead of its time, incorporating black-and-white and colour, mixed with both animation and live action.

The dragon in question is the subject of a children’s book written by our fictional hero Robert Benchley, whose wife decides that he’s going to present his story to Walt Disney. The pair blag their way into the Disney studios and whilst there Benchley gets to see the Disney artists and voice actors at work, whilst also viewing five recent movies.

As well as helping to keep alive the Disney brand’s magical magnetism, Frozen II continues what seems destined to become a long-running franchise.

Frozen 2

Frozen, which opened in 2013, is the highest grossing animated film of all time.

 

 

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