By Bailey Julian
Part of what makes Disney’s reputation so rock-solid and captivating are the lessons that the company has focused on teaching young children. Movies like “Moana” and “Frozen,” among many others, bring universal messages such as how love involves more than just marriage to a Prince Charming.
Founded in 1923 by Walt Disney, the company has filled many children’s hearts with joy through animated movies of classic fairy tales. The classic princess being saved by the prince, the hero defending his or her home, the lost animal trying to find its way, and the outcast trying to fit in, Disney has explored all of these tropes to teach children that everyone can be a hero. As many of us have grown up watching these movies, they often bring a sense of comfort and nostalgia to us.
Yet, for the past few years, the company has steered toward live-action remakes of their classic animated films instead. Live-action films are not new to Disney, though their choice to move away from animated films is.
In 1996, Disney released its first live-action remake, “101 Dalmatians,” followed by its sequel, “102 Dalmatians,” in 2000. “Alice in Wonderland” (2010), “Cinderella” (2015), “Beauty and the Beast” (2017) and “Christopher Robin” (2018) have been some of the most popular movies in recent years.
Their current focus on live-action remakes has met favorable reviews as well as harsh criticism. Some fans appreciate the recreations of their childhood. “Cinderella” (2015) received an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes, for instance. Others are less enthusiastic.
“A remake can only ever be an imitation of what came before. It’s a kind of cinematic photocopy – it looks and feels like the original, but just a little less authentic,” James Luxford wrote for NME, a British arts magazine.
While sometimes Disney chooses to keep the original plotline and perspective of the original animated film, such as “Cinderella” and “Beauty and the Beast,” others deviate from the story we remember such as “Maleficent” (2014).
The upcoming “Dumbo” follows a similar pattern, bringing in new backstory not in the original film. Fans have mixed reactions about the changes to their nostalgic favorites. The company is constantly surrounded by rumors and predictions about their extensive lineup of upcoming live-action films such as “Aladdin” and “Mulan.” These two films have had much discussion, especially, as there are issues of race involved in casting.
In the end, Disney is sure to make a lot of money with their remakes. Whether it is because they are playing on the audience’s sense of nostalgia or because the films themselves are good, audiences will flock to the theaters, as we have seen with earlier remakes. Many hope Disney will not abandon new stories in their live-action remake efforts, though.