Sleepy Huey

My daughter is really into the Disney Princesses right now. Princess shoes, Princess play castle, Princess diapers, Princess dolls. When we got the play castle, she ran upstairs, grabbed a diaper and gleefully found which princess matched it. I — nerd that I am — was very proud that she could do image matching. But was when the Princess thing really began.

She’s also starting to get into TV now, which is a little scary. I know she likes it but I’m trying hard to limit it. This is difficult on weekends when neither of us has the energy to play with her all day and the temptation to use the Electronic Babysitter is strong. But we’ve mostly limited it to stuff like Sesame Street and Dora the Explorer (which she was exposed to through friends, not us). Lately, she’s also gotten into Bugs Bunny. So the natural extension is the Disney movies.

Unfortunately, Disney’s oddball DVD policy prevents us from buying Cinderella, Abby’s favorite. But we did pick up Sleeping Beauty, her second favorite. Thanks to the Stomach Flu from Hell, we’ve watched it a dozen times in the last few days.

The movie is actually very good. In fact, I worry it’s a little intense for a 2.5 year old. It has decent characters, especially the delightfully evil villainess. The scene in which Sleeping Beauty is drawn to the spindle is also very well done (it always provokes Abby, who has watched it raptly every time, to say, ‘No, Sleepy Huey! Stop!’)

But I watching a scene of Maleficent’s demons. It is very similar to the “Night on Bald Mountain” scene from Fantasia — probably one of the most incredible pieces of animation in film history. That remind me of this video, which accuses Disney of ripping itself off.

A multi-billion dollar corporation that gets zillions from kids and is brutal in defending its copyrights needs no defense from me. But artistically, I will defend:

1) No one imagined that future generations would break these movies down from home videos.

2) This sort of thing is overlooked when it’s not a company that evokes hatred in certain quarters. George Lucas, in particular, loves to homage other movies, including his own. The Star Trek films and series have repeatedly reused F/X footage — notably the Klingon Bird-of-Prey explosion from ST6.

3) The original animations were based on filming live actors, an expensive process to recreate for a medium that was not terribly profitable. If you got it right the first time, why screw it up the second time?

Anyway, I’m looking forward to recovering more of my childhood through Abby. Although I think I might hold off on Watership Down until she’s old enough to handle it. 38 should be good.

Update: In other weird Disney criticism, I just remember this paragraph from Roger Ebert’s review of Snow White (which is the first movie I remember seeing in a theater):

Richard Schickel’s 1968 book The Disney Version points out Disney’s inspiration in providing his heroes and supporting characters with different centers of gravity. A heroine like Snow White will stand upright and tall. But all of the comic characters will make movements centered on and emanating from their posteriors. Rump-butting is commonplace in Disney films, and characters often fall on their behinds and spin around. Schickel; attributed this to some kind of Disney anal fixation, but I think Disney did it because it works: It makes the comic characters rounder, lower, softer, bouncier and funnier, and the personalities of all seven Dwarfs are built from the seat up.

Ebert has kids so I’m sure he can also appreciate that kids find butts and butt-related actions to be really really funny.

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