The Disney Renaissance is a Time period from the year 1989 to 1999 in wich Disney released some of their biggest movies wich became iconic worldwide and made Disney the Company it is today. Some people may think this is just a bunch of successful movies Disney made at the time, but I have to say that the title “Renaissance” is very important and very accurate, because Disney went through a very dark age were they were loosing everything and they had to find a way to get back on top!.
Since 1937, Walt Disney’s company released the first fully animated film in history, you may heard of it, this movie is “Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs” and it became a phenomenon worldwide opening the gate for Disney’s future to success. After Snow White Disney released a whole lot more movies wich make this era Disney’s “Golden Age”.
This set of movies was composed of “Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs”, “Pinocchio”, “Fantasia”, “Dumbo” and “Bambi”, This 5 movies were the start of Disney’s huge empire…that soon will fall. Now you may be thinking how could Disney loose, they’re the biggest animation studio/company of the world, They Own everything!?!?!, and you’re not wrong, but let me tell you that Disney was not always the way it is today. Disney had a really successful time during this era, because when it comes to animated films Walt Disney literally invented the game, he was the first person who did it in a time where technology was not that advanced for animation, and he showed the world how magical animation can be and how this “cartoons” can really make an impact on people.
When Snow White came out it was Disney’s first fantasy film (wich is what they are known for today) and it also introduced the concept of princesses (also something that Disney is known for), letting them into a journey of discovering their storytelling style. But after all this wonderful events…WWII came along and the country was suffering a big economic crisis, wich at the time there was no money or interest on animation and that was a problem for Disney, but they didn’t stop making them, with a low budget they still made some movies during this time period. Now maybe some of you haven’t heard of these movies before, but if you do recognize them then you’ll know how these movies were. This set of movies was “Saludos Amigos”, “The Three Caballeros”, “Melody Time”, “Fun And Fancy Free”, and “The Adventure Of Ichabod And Mister Toad”.
But then the end of WWII will lead to the “Silver Age” of Disney, wich includes classics like “Cinderella”, “Alice In Wonderland”, “Peter Pan”, “Lady & The Tramp”, “Sleeping beauty”, “One Hundred and One Dalmatians”; “The Sword On The Stone”, and “The Jungle Book”. I know ist a lot to take in, but sadly “The Jungle Book” was the las movie Walt Disney himself participated before his death, This lead to The One and only “Bronze age” or as some people call it, the “Dark age” of Disney.
After Walt’s death the studio wasn’t the same, their production and ideas were not the best and the company was starting to ask themselves if they would have to shut down. The “Bronze Age” of Disney wasn’t the best but there’s a lot of titles that in fact are considered some of people’s favorite Disney films, and I’m not saying they weren’t good movies, its just that in terms of box office they were loosing really bad. This era consist of “The Aristocats”, “Robin Hood”, “Winnie The Pooh”, “The Rescuers”, “The Fox And The Hound”, “The Black Cauldron”, “The Great Mouse Detective”, and “Oliver & Company”. The studio was trying to do things right but they just couldn’t find that magic that Walt putted on other films, no songs, no princesses, they just weren’t the same. And for that their box office debut of these films was not showing great reactions from audiences. This was mainly because an animator named Don Bluth left the studio with eleven Disney animators with him to create his own studio Don Bluth Productions, with 17% percent of Disney’s animators gone the “Fox And The Hound” production was delayed and then Don Bluth Productions produced “The Secret OF NIMH” in 1982 , wich was originally a story idea first made in Disney. And then the company became Disney’s number one competitor during the time making Disney loose over to their productions. for example “The Black Cauldron” had a budget of $44 million dollars and only earned $22 million, having a loss of $13 million dollars.
But after all that the year 1989 was the year that sparked something on Disney and made them look to the future with hope.in 1989 “The Little Mermaid” was brought into the world, directed by Ron Clements and John Musker wich previously worked together on “The Great Mouse Detective”, wich lead to “Oliver & Company” the studios’s most successful movie in over a decade. both movies made enough money to save the studio from bankruptcy ad made “The Little Mermaid” possible making 84$ million dollars domestically at the box office. And finally after all those years hopelessness for the studio, they finally found their formula and their Renaissance began.
This era is composed by the amazing set of films including “The Little Mermaid”, “The Rescuers Down Under”, “Beauty And The Beast”, “Aladdin”, “The Lion King”, “Pocahontas”, “The Hunchback Of Notre Dame”, “Hercules”, “Mulan”, and ending with “Tarzan”.
What made this Movies so successful is the way Disney’s storytelling changed. The directors of “The Little Mermaid” wanted the movie to feel and look like a Broadway musical, having Disney’s famous musical numbers back. They also brought back the concept of princesses. putting Ariel in the ocean showing an extremely big world and letting the audience know the scale of the characters world. That is what made Disney big, their scale and the way to show conflict in it.
All of the Renaissance movies have the same way of telling the story, first the big worlds showing how far they are and how the massive the cost of their decisions can make a big impact on their families and on their homes; showing how big the challenge the character is about to face. After this the character is put in a big conflict making the character having to make a decision very crucial that will lead the tone for the rest of the story. They do this visually, all of the movies at one point show something massive, showing how small the character is and how big the problem is for them.
The bigger the world, makes the story bigger, making the adventure even bigger, making the characters so memorable. Seeing one of these films is an experience, Disney lets you connect with the character and letting you go with him on a journey of self-discovery, letting you know how they feel and the secret they have. This is what makes these movies today so nostalgic for a lot of people because when They were kids seeing these movies made the CONNECT with the story. This era not only changed their storytelling but it also changed their way of using technology, instead of making films the same old way as they were doing during the “Dark Age”, Disney used technology letting them to be so big in the world of animation, because that is what Disney is known for being the first studio that made the very first fully length animated film. Implementing CGI is what putted Disney on the map worldwide.
CGI is a computer program that simulates the realistic looking images or animated objects, CGI is any image or sequence of images that have been generated with the aid of computers. Yes, “Toy Story” was the first fully computer animated movie. But Disney implemented CGI to use embrace new styles of animation, Instead of making films cheaper and faster by implementing the same techniques they are used to, they took all the good things of new technology to place all the aspects of the story and make them feel real, it wasn’t completely all CGI it was a combination of both old and new ways.
This is what made moments of these movie so memorable, using CGI to animate huge sequences and having that feel of immense danger. Like in the scene of the snow mountain in “Mulan”, or the stamped in “The Lion King”.
And there you have it, the entire journey Disney went through to get where they are right now, their rise and fall and how they got back again showing how magical their stories are and how huge of an impact they had on the entire world.