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Disney's Thoughts on animated musicals

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  • Disney's Thoughts on animated musicals

    I guess this belongs here. I'm in a college course for "Music in Film" and stumbled on this Walt Disney quote talking about how musical numbers should play out in his animated features. I'm sure many of you would notice the "natural" singing in the Walt Disney era compared to the "Broadway" style singing in the '90s features. I think some of you already have heard this quote, but it should be repeated:

    "Disney was looking for a more organic way to use songs in the film... he said, 'We still haven't hit it in any of these songs... It's still that influence from the musicals they have been doing for years. Really, we should set a new pattern- a new way to use music- weave it into the story so somebody doesn't just burst into song."

    Example: Snow White- Whistle While You Work, Silly Song, Wishing/One Song

    Pinocchio- When You Wish Upon A Star, Give A Little Whistle, Got No Strings

    101 Dalmations- Cruella DeVil, Dalmation Plantation

    The above flows out naturally for the characters during work, play, teaching, celebration, etc

    Compared to "Broadway" musical style, characters express what they're feeling in "burst out into song" style.

    I just hope The Walt Disney Company today recognizes this. Which is where they got themselves into trouble in the late '90s and early 2000s with their animated features. People were so associated with their pictures in Broadway style musicals. "Tarzan" was a good step away having the songs be Tarzan's thoughts and feelings without other characters hearing it as well. And "Trashin' the Camp" was quite natural for gorillas to do. "Emperor's New Groove" had the 1 character theme song which was still a good direction. "Atlantis" had a song in the end credits. "Lilo & Stitch" used songs but not in a musical sense. "Treasure Planet" had 1 beautiful song with "I'm Still Here" exploring both Jim's past & his relationship with Silver. And had the song near the end that transitioned to end credits with "Always Know Where You Are". "Brother Bear" kind of mimicked "Tarzan" also given Phil Collins returned. Koda started singing but later transitioned to Phil. This was still a good move. "Home on the Range" had their opening song, montage songs, and Slim yodeling to cows and that's the only time characters hear music.

    So in actuality, Disney WAS kind of moving away from the Broadway style. But perhaps a factor that made the latter features not as profitable is the fact that the general audience was TOO familar with only Broadway instead of organic...

    I just felt like I outlined a thesis paper in 20 mins... haha.

    "You're not thinking fourth dimensionally!" -Back to the Future

    "With this place, I wanted to give them something real, something that wasn't an illusion, something they could see and touch. An aim devoid of merit."
    -Jurassic Park

  • #2
    Re: Disney's Thoughts on animated musicals

    I think the company as a whole has come a long way in this respect. I mean look at films like the Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast or Aladdin. I think all still have a mix of the "Broadway outburst: but there's also a lot of examples of the song furthering the character/plot and being built into the story better.

    Look at "Part of Your World." There's a reason why on the soundtrack the song starts out with Ariel talking. It leads right into the song and feels more natural. The same could be said for Belle's reprise of "Belle" and Aladdin's reprise of "One Step."

    Of course there are many other examples too. Great topic filmfreak11!


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