Renaissance – The humanistic revival of classical art.
When you think of the word “Renaissance,” beautiful images of historic artwork come to mind from some of the greatest artists of all time. The Walt Disney Company went through a period from 1989-1999 known as “The Disney Renaissance.” During this decade, Walt Disney Animated Studios created movies that restored faith, trust, and even pixie dust within the company. These films are looked at now as full on “Disney Classics.”
Within the last seven years, Disney has released animated films that can compare to the films of the Disney Renaissance period. In my opinion, we are currently in a second wave of the Disney Renaissance.
Okay, so let’s start with the films from the first Disney Renaissance:
- The Little Mermaid (1989)
- The Rescuers Down Under (1990)
- Beauty and the Beast (1991)
- Aladdin (1992)
- The Lion King (1994)
- Pocahontas (1995)
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
- Hercules (1997)
- Mulan (1998)
- Tarzan (1999)
All ten of these animated films are deemed “Disney Classics.” The best of the best worked on these films. Think of how many classic Disney songs have come from this period alone; “Part of Your World,” “Under the Sea,” “Something There,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “A Whole New World,” “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King,” “Hakuna Matata,” “Colors of the Wind,” “God Help the Outcasts,” “Zero to Hero,” “I’ll Make a Man Out of You,” and “You’ll Be in My Heart.”
The characters in these films have a very special place in the hearts of true Disney fans including four princesses and one honorary princess (cough Mulan cough). If you ask anyone in the millennial generation what his or her first Disney movie was, there is a very high chance that it’ll be a movie from the list above.
Now, lets talk about the films from the second Disney Renaissance:
- The Princess and the Frog (2009)
- Tangled (2010)
- Winnie the Pooh (2011)
- Wreck-It Ralph (2012)
- Frozen (2013)
- Big Hero 6 (2014)
- Zootopia (2016)
- Moana (2016)
I believe that we are in the middle of this period. These films brought the Disney magic that I grew up on back to the big screen. The three princess movies from this period are some of the absolute best. “The Princess and the Frog,” “Tangled,” and “Frozen” have some of the best soundtracks ever released by Walt Disney Animation Studios. “Wreck-It Ralph” and “Big Hero 6” give us boys some Disney movies to be fans of. Disney’s latest success, “Zootopia” was absolutely amazing, with a great message for everyone about bringing people together.
On the horizon for Disney Animation Studios is another princess, “Moana” (November 2016), a take on Jack and the Beanstalk with “Gigantic” (2018), the return of the Snow Queen and her quirky sister with “Frozen 2” (TBA), and rumor has it the return of everyone’s favorite “wrecker” and sassy “honorary” princess with “Wreck-It Ralph 2” (TBA).
I believe that these movies will keep the second Renaissance in full swing. Disney knows what they are doing capitalizing on hits like “Frozen” and “Wreck-It Ralph.” They seem to be steering away from the direct-to-video sequel pattern of the late 90s with their blockbuster hits. Instead, they are taking time to develop a new great story to be worthy enough to be apart of the Walt Disney animated features canon.
Walt Disney started a new media for storytelling with the release of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” in 1937. Since then, competitors have tried to marvel at the success of the Disney Animated Studios. I really grew up somewhat spoiled in the midst of the Disney Renaissance.
I have come to truly appreciate the films released in this time and they all hold a special place in my heart. I have also come to enjoy the films of the second Disney Renaissance, with Tiana of “The Princess and the Frog” becoming my number one favorite Disney Princess, and “Big Hero 6” being a movie that I could watch anytime and be totally satisfied with my movie experience.
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