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Lily James stars as Cinderella in the 2015 Disney live action film.

Disney live action

Disney brings classic animated movies to life with well known actors

It’s a scene that many may remember from their childhood: A young girl in a blue dress hurrying through a sea of ball gowns of every color.

She runs through the crowd and bolts out of the castle’s doors, afraid that the magic of the evening will end. A prince pursues her, calling desperately for her to stop, but she makes it to her carriage and speeds away, leaving nothing but a single glass slipper on the steps of the palace.

The above scene comes not only from the classic Disney 2D animation film Cinderella, which was released in 1950, but also from Disney’s recent non-animated remake of the timeless tale, released in 2015.

In recent years, Disney has devoted its resources to creating a series of “live action” remakes of classic movies, including Cinderella (2015), The Jungle Book (2016) and Beauty and the Beast (2017).

Live action is a type of film that involves real people instead of computer generated or animated effects.

So far, the live action films Disney has released have thrived financially, with The Jungle Book making over $100 million during its opening weekend and Beauty and the Beast earning almost $175 million in its opening weekend this March.

While it may seem reasonable that Disney would want to make these new films solely for the profit, graphic designer and Minnehaha alumna (‘06) Casey Anderson argues that Disney has other reasons.

“A lot of what sets [Disney] apart from other animation studios is that they really think about the stories that they are trying to tell and have a lot of heart to them,” she said. “I think that they are genuinely wanting to pour their heart and soul into a retelling of their classics.”

As a whole, it seems that Disney’s live action remakes, which, for the most part, stick to the original themes and plot of the originals with some added twists, have been readily accepted.

Aside from the simple entertainment and enjoyment that the films bring, Anderson suggested another reason why the remakes may be attractive.

“People are suckers for nostalgia,” said Anderson. “I’m one of them. I love being able to go back and look at things that I loved in my childhood and when I realize I still love those things, I can’t get enough. I think Disney has latched onto that. They have discovered that there is this longing to go back to the past, this longing to go back to childhood, to go back to when things were much more simple.”

This nostalgia is mostly from the generation that grew up watching movies from Disney’s “Renaissance” Era (1989-1999), a time when Disney released a series of wildly successful films like Aladdin (1992), Tarzan (1999), The Little Mermaid (1989) and many more.

Individuals who grew up watching movies from this time may be excited to see favorite characters brought to life by actors and actresses, or to simply relive a part of their childhood.

“I think what they are trying to do is have a fresh approach that will bring in all of those people who want to relive their childhood, but in a new way,” said Anderson.

Even as live action films have been released, Disney has continued to work with and develop its animated movies.

It seems, for the most part, that the current focus on live action will not be detrimental for the animation industry.

On the contrary, Anderson believes that the release of these remakes will lead more individuals to go back and appreciate the 2D animated classics that Disney is known for and share those stories with those around them.

“Now, those kids who have grown up have children of their own and can share that memory with their kids,” she said, “and a new generation can experience the same story and the same storytellers but in a whole new light.”

Anderson believes that Disney’s overall goal is to bring people together and connect individuals with their sense of nostalgia.

“I think that they genuinely are trying to create a bridge between the new and the old,” she said. “Bringing new stuff in, and then having the people who share in the experience of someone who is watching the new one but has also seen the old stuff…they are able to connect.”

Though presented in a variety of forms, classic tales like Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, The Jungle Book, etc. will always hold a special place in the hearts of the generation that grew up watching them.

“You could say that the Lion King is my favorite,” said Anderson. “I memorized that one and recreated it with my friends at recess. I told everybody who and what character they were playing and what line they were going to have. I would be so bossy!” she said, laughing.

In the future, Disney fans will have a variety of new live action films to look forward to, including Mulan in November 2018, The Lion King, Pinocchio, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid and multiple others. As an artist, Anderson is excited to see how the classic animated films that have deeply impacted her work will be remade and will become a part of the world of Disney.

“Being able to become a part of that world,” said Anderson, “knowing that I could draw something of my own…it’s like I’m immersing myself in the world that Disney has created for its fans.”

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About Emma Melling

Emma is a senior staff writer and editor-in-chief of the Talon. She is passionate about journalism, writing, literature, and French. Emma plans to attend Bethel University in the fall and double major in English and Journalism. She enjoys writing features on arts and human interest topics and loves listening to people's stories. Her hobbies include reading, hiking and spending time with family.

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