The International Writers Magazine:
Kulture: If it can happen to them, why not us?
allure of the Magic Kingdom
was 1928 when a man called Walter Elias Disney supplied the voice
of Mickey Mouse, a character he had created, in the talkie Steamboat
Willie. 76 years later, thousands of people flock to Disney theme
parks for their holidays.
In 2003, seven of Disneys theme parks ranked among the top
10 most-visited worldwide.
On Saturday mornings
you can watch House of Mouse, a cartoon featuring many Disney characters.
There are over 60 Disney stores in the UK, selling a whole range of
merchandising goods, and you can watch classic Disney films on the stage.
The Lion King was the winner of six Tony awards in 1996, including Best
New Musical, while Beauty and the Beast is also highly praised; "this
much-loved spectacle has thrilled more than 20million people worldwide
with showstopping musical numbers, astonishing sets, lavish costumes
and never-before-seen It all started with Mickey Mouse - a character
created more than half a century ago who is still loved and recognised
by people all over the world. "Mickey Mouse, reported Walt Disney
at the end of 1933, had received 800 000 letters that year, an average
of 66 000 a month. He stressed that all these communications had been
addressed to Mickey personally, and not to his creator."Its
not just Mickey - every Disney film has a kind of magic; they combine
likeable characters with appealing stories, as well as messages and
lessons for children and adults - as they say, theres a child
in all of us!"
films give hope - the hero is often an unlikely champion whose dreams
are fulfilled. Cinderella escapes a life of slavery and marries
the Prince while Aladdin wins Princess Jasmines heart not
by using magic but by being himself, teaching that you cannot change
who you are, and you should always be true to yourself.
Friendship is also
an important part of most Disney stories. Simba gains the courage to
return to the Pridelands and accept his role as King with help from
his friends in The Lion King, and many other Disney characters are helped
in their journey by loyal friends, such as Bambi, Dumbo and Mowgli.
There is also the message of love conquering all, apparent
in many Disney films. An idealistic message, perhaps, but Im sure
Im not alone in enjoying watching Cinderella and Ariel find their
Prince at the end of the film - if it can happen to them, why not us?
In almost all Disney films, we see good overcoming evil. This is something
very apparent in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. "No film in history
has captured the worlds imagination like Walt Disneys first
full-length animated feature. Regarded as a milestone in film making,
generations have been enchanted by its delightful charm and breathtaking
beauty" (It says on the video box). Snow White overcomes oppression
and escapes from the evil Queen to marry Prince Charming, finding good
friends along the way, making it one of Disneys most popular .
Disney films arent all happiness and no tears, however. They teach
children about tragedy, such as when Bambis mother is shot and
Simbas father is killed. The character suffers a loss, but grows
up to become a hero, teaching that you can turn your life around, whatever
has happened. The Lion King was a huge success for Disney; "It
has very much the heros-journey structure to it, whereby a character
is catapulted into growing up by some catastrophic incident in his life.
Then he has to go conquer many things, get over many hurdles, seek the
wisdom of a wise man and return triumphant to his kingdom."
It can be argued that Disney films are too happy. They portray
the world as an idyllic place - tragedies may occur, but there are always
happy endings. However, I disagree with the view that this is bad. Disney
films create a world that we all long to live in, and can experience
for a short while when engrossed in a Disney movie. That realm of enchantment
is spreading - we can now experience Disney magic in theme parks, Disney
stores, and, if youre desperate enough to live in a utopian paradise,
you can go and live in Celebration, Florida, a town built by the Disney
Company in 1995. "There is a place that takes you back to that
time of innocence
. A place of caramel apples and cotton candy,
secret forts and hopscotch on the streets. That place is here again,
in a new town called Celebration." Russ Rymer, cited by Henry
There is so much that makes Disney films magical - timeless stories,
likeable characters, and strong messages that draw children - and adults
- to them again and again. Disney brings legends such as Hercules and
Robin Hood to life, as well as fairytales such as Cinderella and Sleeping
Beauty. It teaches children while entertaining them; Walt was a firm
believer in education through entertainment.
Disney films do portray an idealistic world, where there are always
happy endings and good triumphs over evil - and in real life, sadly
thats often not the case. For most of us, Prince Charming and
eternal happiness may not be just around the corner - but is it such
a bad thing to keep believing?
© Gemma Ayres Jan 2005
Gemma is a Creative Arts student at Portsmouth University
all rights reserved