The Disney Renaissance


It can be said that the animated films of the Walt Disney Studio are a mainstay of a childhood. It can be very hard to find someone who is a native English speaker who hasn’t seen any animated films by the ubiquitous studio. There are generally two types films that any one in our generation has seen, these include either the classics, mostly relegated to the ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ ‘Bambi’ or other films of that ilk, or those films that have fallen into a rather special category; the Disney Renaissance.

Set in a period between the 1980’s to the 2000’s this period was a of reaffirming Disney’s house hold name after poor business decisions, management reshuffles and the start of a short lived rivally from former employ Don Bluth, the creative force behind ‘Robin Hood’ ‘The Rescuers’ and ‘An American Tail’.

The first in this new breed of Disney films was ‘The Little Mermaid’ (1989) which set the template for a new breed of Disney movies; a musical added to a traditional tale of romance and magic. Many of the films included with in the Renaissance have contributed to the Disney princess franchise with characters like Belle, Ariel and Mulan. The Renaissance was so successful that ‘Beauty and the Beast’ was nominated for the best picture, in fact many of the Renaissance where nominated for multiple Oscars. This was not to last and many consider the last in this era was 1999’s ‘Tarzan’

There was a return to form though after a decade dominated by Pixar and Dreamworks. John Lasseter, co-founder of Pixar animation studios, took over as creative director at Disney animation studios. Among his first projects was ‘The Princess and the Frog’ a film that combined an already established fairy tale with an America twist, while still retaining all of the old tropes we have come to know from the Renaissance.

Benjamin Pinsent, Deputy Film Editor


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