Spifftacular SquirrelGirl wrote:I have never seen The Aristocats before so I might have to give that a rental sometime.
You should. Bob Saget's segment was fucking hilarious!
Spifftacular SquirrelGirl wrote:I have never seen The Aristocats before so I might have to give that a rental sometime.
Disney Legend Floyd Norman returns with a detailed look at "Wild Life," an innovative animated feature that WDAS developed as a follow-up project for "Dinosaur" but ultimately abandoned in late 2000
Wade Sampson wrote:Today’s column is the tale of a tail. A rabbit’s tail and tale, that is.
Who Censored Roger Rabbit written by Gary Wolf, was published in 1981. It was meant to be a surreal spoof of the traditional hard-boiled detective novel, a mixture of Raymond Chandler, Lewis Carroll and Warner Bros. Roger Rabbit was a 6-foot-tall rabbit (a height which included his 18-inch ears) who worked for the DeGreasy Brothers.
LaDracul wrote:Apparently, Disney had bought the rights to "AIDA" in the late '80s and had wanted to make an
DDMAN26 wrote:I must respectfully disagree. The Emperor's New Groove might be Disney's most underrated film.
It's fast and funny and I find it's irrevence much more charming then the Shrek series.
-"Maximum Horsepower": A vehicle starring Horace Horsecollar from the early days about him in outer space.
Guillermo del Toro wrote:Some of those big deals I’d made, with Disney and Universal, I had to dance really fast to be able to get a period of grace to shoot those Hobbit movies, and then be able to make those deals active again. That period came and went, and we were not shooting. That Disney Double Dare You deal is gone. I am developing a relationship with DreamWorks that’s still to be defined, but it’s not as it was going to be at Disney. Disney was a beautiful opportunity, but with the timing and the delays and everything, I couldn’t activate it.
TheButcher wrote:Guillermo del Toro Says Disney Double Dare You ‘Is Gone’Guillermo del Toro wrote:Some of those big deals I’d made, with Disney and Universal, I had to dance really fast to be able to get a period of grace to shoot those Hobbit movies, and then be able to make those deals active again. That period came and went, and we were not shooting. That Disney Double Dare You deal is gone. I am developing a relationship with DreamWorks that’s still to be defined, but it’s not as it was going to be at Disney. Disney was a beautiful opportunity, but with the timing and the delays and everything, I couldn’t activate it.
Borys Kit wrote:From the better late than never department:
Coincidentally running at the same time as this past weekend’s D23 Expo, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra performed music from Disney’s Fantasia, with popular former Bowl Orchestra conductor John Mauceri returning to lead the musicians who played to clips from the classic film.
The evening saw music and clips that didn’t make it into the 1940 version or Fantasia 2000 performed as well, such as Destino, the fabled collaboration between Disney and Salvador Dali, and The Swan of Tuonela.
But perhaps one of the highlights was Clair de Lune, a piece by Claude Debussy that was completely finished but taken out of the original movie so as not to pad the already long running time. It was lost to time and not re-discovered until 1992. It was included in a DVD version of Fantasia but Mauceri said this weekend’s performance was only the second time the sequence has been shown publicly.
The piece was transportive and revelatory.
After the show, many Bowl-goers, at least the adults, tallied their favorite pieces, with Clair de Lune invariably coming out on top the majority of the time. Others simply chattered how they had never before seen this piece and what a gem it is.
Heat Vision found the piece on good ol’ You Tube. The sound quality may not be the same as seeing it with a live orchestra, it’s still pretty magical.
Adam Chitwood wrote:Director Brad Bird is poised to make his live-action debut with this fall’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, and for those of you lost as to why so many people are excited about that prospect, it has a little something to do with Bird’s oeuvre. The director’s animated filmography includes outstanding works such as The Iron Giant, Ratatouille, and of course The Incredibles. The latter has drawn quite a bit of sequel chatter over time, as it’s generally regarded as one of the best films to come out of Pixar (and that’s saying something). We recently got the chance to talk to Bird and he revealed that he’s not at all opposed to making an Incredibles follow-up, and talked about what it would take to make the sequel happen. Hit the jump to see what he had to say.
Bird revealed to us that he definitely hasn’t ruled out returning to the Incredibles universe, and he even has some ideas:“I can’t say I’m actively working on it, but I have some ideas and if I ever get it all together into a story that is at least as good as the one we did, I’d be happy to return to that world. I love working with Pixar.”
The director elaborated on the ideas that he’s been thinking up in an interview with Movies.com, saying that he’s come up with some great little ideas but he’s far from an overall arc:“I would like to think that I have several good ideas that could be incorporated into a next Incredibles, but I don’t have a whole movie yet, and the last thing I want to do is do it just because it would open big, or something like that.”
With Pixar’s recent slate of films featuring sequels to Toy Story, Monsters Inc., and Cars, it’s a bit surprising that a sequel to The Incredibles isn’t at least in the development stage. Well, there’s a good reason for that. Work hasn’t begun on a sequel because Pixar feels the same way about the film that Bird does; he wants to be the one doing it:“I think the reason it hasn’t [happened] yet is because the studio would like me to do it, if there were another Incredibles, and I’ve told them that I’m not really friendly to have someone else take away my child.”
It’s definitely reassuring to know that if we ever do get an Incredibles 2, it will come courtesy of Bird himself. The director went on to elaborate on what he told us about his hesitations in making the sequel, as he looks to Toy Story 2 as the benchmark for follow-ups:“Toy Story 2 was, to me, a perfect sequel, because it absolutely respected the first film but found new places to go without selling out its characters. So if I could come up with an idea that is to Incredibles that Toy Story 2 is to Toy Story, I would do it in a second.”
Hopefully Bird gets around to working on the sequel sometime down the road. At this point, I’m just glad we have someone so talented making movies at all, and I’ll anxiously be awaiting any project that he attaches his name to.
Jeremy Gordon wrote:“I love those characters, and if I could make one that was to ‘Incredibles’ what the ‘Toy Story’ sequels were to ‘Toy Story,’ I’d do it," he said. Given the number of superhero movies crowding the market, it might be a while. “It doesn’t encourage, as if what the world needs is another superhero sequel. That would never be the reason to do it anyways -- it would be the story."
Still, working on “Incredibles" opened Bird to a ton of new opportunities -- including his work on “Mission Impossible."
“One of the interesting reactions to ‘Incredibles’ was that even though it was a superhero film, people got a sort of spy vibe from it," he said. “So people could tell that I liked spy films, and this was a great chance to do one."
Germain Lussier wrote:Disney is a prolific company with its name on a great many successes, and it likes to hide its missteps and failures. The process of doing so sometimes helps those mistakes become things of legend. Song of the South, with its politically incorrect and racist portrayals of certain characters, is likely the most famous example. Another example might be The Sweatbox, a very rarely-seen documentary about the failed making of an animated film called Kingdom of the Sun, which eventually morphed into The Emperor’s New Groove.
The Sweatbox filmmakers John-Paul Davidson and Trudie Styler were given unprecedented access to Disney’s process and the resulting film painted the executives in such a negative light, they more or less made sure the film would never been seen in public.
SPOILER ALERT !!
Hey folks, Harry here. This is exactly the reason I created AICN. You see... For years being a film geek I've tried to understand simple stupid decisions like.... the current name change from KINGDOM OF THE SUN, a title that sounds like a good movie, but from what Sir Etch A Sketch showed me looked like a lame ripoff of THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER (which Disney had already done successfully with Mickey Mouse).... To THE EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE... a title that seems to indicate all of the worst things that we believe Disney is capable of.... However, we haven't seen the current state of this project... So... Maybe it would now be a cool movie with a crappy title.... BUT... We don't know. How did this come to pass? What happened behind those closed doors there in the palace of mice? Did Eisner have one cup of coffee too many and just blurted out the title, which was instantly followed by rows and rows of YES-MEN say, "YES YES YES YES!!!"? Well... Usually we would never be able to get down to the truth. Some hardened press type would simply say, "YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH." But as I read this fascinating and insightful look into the decision making process, the story development process and the testing process involved with this film... I'm reminded of the old days of Disney. The long development processes... before the prying eyes of folks like me and you and before the hunger for peeks at presents early came about... The following story is fantastic. Read it only if you are fascinated by the world of animation and Disney. IT contains MASSIVE SPOILERS for Multiple Renditions of this film along the process of final delivery. And right now... Well, after reading it all... It doesn't sound like a farting Llama movie anymore. Good. It isn't a cheap ripoff of THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER. And... god bless it.. the title actually makes sense. So... read and learn...
I've just finished reading through all the talk-backs your AICN readers recently sent you concerning Disney's decision to change the name of " Kingdom in the Sun. " And I have to admit that I'm kind of troubled by the negative tone they took toward the title change. It strikes me as kind of bizarre that people can be so downbeat about a film that they haven't even seen the trailer yet for, let alone the finished product.
Yes, I will admit that " The Emperor's New Groove " does seem like a pretty lame title for a Disney animated feature. It certainly lacks the grandeur of the project's first two titles : " Kingdom of the Sun " and " Kingdom in The Sun. "
But the new title actually does a much better job of describing the style and tone of this version of the film than " KOTS " or " KITS " ever did.
Just ask Sir Etch-a-Sketch or any of your other moles at the Mouse. Anybody who's worked at Disney Feature Animation over the past few years will tell you that " Kingdom / Groove " has been a very troubled project. In its four years of production, thousands of hours of work and millions of dollars of finished animation ( $30 million's worth is the figure I've heard bandied about ) has been tossed out as the Mouse flailed about, trying to find the right tone and story for this film.
As originally planned, " Kingdom " was supposed to be this Aztec adventure based loosely on Mark Twain's " The Prince and the Pauper. " The story went as follows : A handsome but haughty prince ( voiced by David Spade ) discovers that he has an exact look-alike in a kindly llama herder ( voiced by Owen Wilson ). To get a taste of freedom, the prince switches places with the pauper for a day -- little realizing that the switch has been observed by the evil court sorceress, Yzma ( voiced by Eartha Kitt ).
Yzma sees this switch as an opportunity to gain control of the throne. She uses her magic to turn the pompous prince ( when he's disguised as the pauper ) into a llama. The court sorceress then tells the pauper ( who's then masquerading as the prince ) that she knows that he's not who he says he is. Ymza threatens to expose the pretend prince ( which would result in instant beheading ) unless he does her bidding.
What does Yzma want? Well, the sorceress once was a great looker ... Now, she's a painfully thin, faded beauty -- sort of an Aztec version of Cruella De Vil. Yzma wants desperately to regain her lost looks. To do this, she'll need the pretend prince to marshall the full resources of the Kingdom. What must Yzma do to achieve eternal youth and beauty? Lasso the sun and bring it down to Earth.
I know, I know. That's a pretty odd story for a Disney animated feature ... The real trouble with the original story for " Kingdom of the Sun " was so he would turn back into a human. Having finally learned humility through his experiences as a llama, the prince is finally ready to lead his people. The pauper would win the hand of a head-strong-but-lovely handmaiden in the prince's court ( who knew that something wasn't quite right when the pauper was pretending to be the prince ). The three of them live happily ever after ... Yadda Yadda Yadda ... Nothing new here. Just like in dozens of other Disney animated features ...
Not to say that everything in the original version of " Kingdom " was going to be lame or predictable. Sting wrote several fun pop songs for the film's score spent over a year animated this very funny little character before Disney dropped it from the movie.
As Disney edited together work-in-progress versions of " Kingdom, " It became obvious that a talented team were doing lots of good work on the project. But it became obvious that Allers was clueless as to how to fix the film. Disney Feature Animation head Peter Schneider and Thomas Schumacher then stepped in and quietly shut down work on the project.
For six months ( starting in the summer of '98 ), production was shut down on " Kingdom. " During that time, Disney radically reworked the story while the film's idle animation team was put to work on Eric Goldberg's " Rhapsody in Blue " project. ( Which that they realized that " Rhapsody " would be a perfect last minute addition to
" Fantasia 2000. " To make room, they had to drop yet another sequence from the original film, " The Nutcracker Suite. " But the fairies from " Nutcracker " are still featured for a second or so in the " Fantasia 2000 " trailer. So much for pointless trivia ! Anyway ... )
Finally tired of waiting for the film's story to be fixed, several of " Kingdom " 's original animators opted to bail out of the troubled project. Chief among these was Andreas Deja, the original animator of Yzma. Though it's said that he did some of his best work ever with the evil sorceress, Deja had had enough with " Kingdom " 's never-ending story problems. Frustrated by Aller's inability to fix the film, Andreas opted to get out of town. He left Burbank and headed to Orlando, where he joined up with Disney Feature Animation - Florida. Here, Andreas is currently working as the lead animator on Lilo, the little girl heroine of Disney's forthcoming animated feature, " Lilo and Stitch. " Based on what the staff down there says, Andreas is genuinely happier working on " Lilo & Stitch. "
Anyway ... After six months of work, Disney's story department finally decided that the only things that actually worked in the original version of " Kingdom " were :
1) The Aztec setting
2) David Spade & Eartha Kitt's performances as the prince and the sorceress.
3) The turning-into-a-llama story idea.
So, virtually everything else left over from the previous incarnation of the film was tossed out. Gone was the " The Prince and the Pauper " under-structure, as well as Yzma's lassoing-the-sun scheme. Owen Wilson's look-alike llama herder had never been much of a foil for Spade's comic prince character. So, Wilson's character that now drove the story.
The new script for " Kingdom " goes as follows : When the sun reaches its apex on his 18th birthday, snooty prince Kuzco will ascend the throne of the Aztec empire. On that day, his aged aunt Yzma must step down. Trouble is, Yzma doesn't want to step down. She wants to continue holding power. So Yzma conspires with her well-meaning-if-dim-witted henchman, Kronk ( Voiced by Patrick Warburton, best known for his work as Puddy on " Seinfeld " ), to do the young prince in.
So, as the prince's birthday nears, Yzma invites her nephew to dinner one night. During the meal, Kronk is supposed to serve the prince a potion that will poison him. But he accidentally serves Kuzco a potion that doesn't kill him but turns him into a llama. Trying to make the best of their botched plan, Ymza and Kronk then brain the enchanted prince with a vase. Thinking they've killed Kuzco, they quickly dispose of the body by throwing the limp llama onto the back of the cart of a peasant who's heading out of town.
Trouble is, Kuzco isn't dead, just unconscious. The next morning, the enchanted prince comes to in the back of the cart. He finds himself, miles from home and at the mercy of the cart's owner he's going to put this lazy talking llama to work ...
Meanwhile, with the coronation day approaching, Yzma and Kronk put out the word that Prince Kuzco has disappeared. Their story is that the young prince told them that he wasn't up to the challenge of leading a kingdom, so Kuzco fled in shame. Yzma says that she hopes someday that the prince will change his mind and return. Til then, she will be happy to stay on the throne and rule.
Back out in the countryside, Kuzco learns the value of hard work. He notices that Paucho and his friends are good, kind hearted people who deserve a great leader. Humbled by his experience, Kuzco vows to become a good king. Knowing that the prince has finally learned his lesson, Paucho now offers to take Kuzco back to the city where they hope to find someone to break the spell.
Meanwhile, word comes to the palace that a talking llama has been sighted in the countryside. Yzma and Kronk realize that Kuzco must be still be alive. So they send soldiers from the city to go capture the bewitched creature ....
And then ...
Well, you don't want me to give away the whole film, do you? ( Okay. Fine. Good triumphs over evil. The spell is eventually broken. Kuzco becomes human again, while Yzma is turned into a screeching peacock. Paucho's village is destroyed by the soldiers, but Kuzco vows to build it back, better than ever. )
This is the Reader's Digest version of the story. While this may lay out the bare bones of the story, what it doesn't make clear is that the finished version of " The Emperor's Lost Groove " is going to be a lot of fun. Disney hasn't done a film that's been this flat-out funny since " Aladdin. " The movie's humor may be very contemporary in tone, but it's still accessible to audiences of all ages. there's jokes here for kids and adults.
Another prediction : People are going to be really startled by David Spade's work here. Sure, he's been funny before on " Saturday Night Live " and in those Chris Farley film, but who knew the snarky little weasel could act? Space's vocal performance as Kuzco makes this movie. You'll laugh, you'll cry. Just like John Goodman's Paucho, you'll find yourself coming to love the obnoxious little guy.
So don't sell this film short just because of its supposedly stupid sounding title ... By the way, what is the significance of the title, " The Emperor's New Groove "? Well, other than the obvious riff on Hans Christian Anderson's " The Emperor's New Clothing, " the title ties directly in with Kuzco's first appearance in the film. When we initially meet the prince, he and his entourage are parading through the streets of the kingdom. It's an elaborate procession, with musicians playing and flower girls strewing petals in front of the prince as he manfully strolls along. Suddenly, a small child darts into the street -- bringing the procession to an abrupt halt.
" Out of the way, kid, " Kuzco says. " You're throwing off my groove. " ( I know, I know. Not what you'd expect an Aztec prince to say. But remember the film's humor is contemporary, very '00s. )
At the end of the film, we again see Kuzco in a procession moving through the streets of the kingdom. Humbled but with his head on straight now, he and Paucho leads his people in celebration of the defeat of Yzma. This " Emperor's New Groove " shows that Kuzco will now be the good and wise leader the Aztecs deserve ... As Sting warbles the hit single version of the movie's ballad, the camera pulls back from the happy celebration .. and the credits roll.
This you'll understand why Disney opted to change the name. The new title better reflects the tone and style of the movie now. Maybe it's not a Disney classic, in the " Snow White " or " Beauty & the Beast " sense. But " The Emperor's New Groove " is still a damn funny movie that will be turning up at a multi-plex near you in December 2000.
Who am I? Nobody who works for the Mouse. Just a guy who likes animation.
Call me Moo Cow.
This evening I will be posting the four completed scenes that were originally intended for the third Fantasia movie, Fantasia 2006, or sometimes referred to as Fantasia World.
A project helmed by Roy E. Disney, would take the Fantasia movies to new frontiers and new places, from Russia to Africa to Australia and beyond. It was even intended to have a sequence featuring the music of The Beatles.
Unfortunately, after the disappointing performance of Treasure Planet, and the cuts at the Walt Disney Feature Animation, and the decision that Home on the Range would be the final 2D, hand drawn Disney feature ever, Fantasia 2006 was cut from production and pronounced dead in the water.
It’s a shame because I think they were on to something really fantastic with the four pieces that had been finished for Fantasia 2006 and it would have been a movie that eclipsed its predecessor and really given a movie to live up to the Fantasia brand name.
The final of the four shorts released that would have been included in Fantasia 2006. Only watch this if you want your heart devastated.
Based on the Hans Christian Anderson tale, a little orphan girl tries to make money to survive by selling matches, unfortunately, no one wants to buy matches and the little girl has no food or shelter. So in the night, to pass the time and keep a little warm, she lights the matches that she is trying to sell and fantasizes about a better life, filled with Christmas and grandmothers and food and happiness.
But… as she burns all the matches, she is left in the cold… and freezes to death. The last scene being her grandmother coming to take her soul to Heaven. Yep, Disney didn’t hold any punches this time. And it creates a heartbreaking segment…
And its such a shame that Fantasia 2006 never saw the light of day, because the four released planned segments for the movie were all more interesting individually than the entire Fantasia 2000 put together. Maybe its the inclusion of vocal music of the world flavor, but each story had much more heart for this cancelled production. It’s a shame we’ll never know what else could have been.
Using a deleted song from The Lion King (and later replaced and put into the stage version of the movie), a group of kids in Africa who paint and make kites and fly them high through the sky.
It’s a simple little video, but the song “One by One” is a really beautiful, empowering song. And having seen the staging in the Broadway show, it’s just stunning. The animation in this video is fantastic and although the kids kind of look like they are straight out of The Proud Family, the piece creates a sense of community and treasure in the simple things in life.
This is just a trailer for the clip. Unfortunately, this short film was played before Raising Helen (which, let’s be honest, who actually saw that?) and has never been released on DVD or Blu-Ray so that actual full video is no where to be found. If anyone has any leads to where peeps can watch the fulll length segment, please post.
Anywho, “Lorenzeo” is about a cat who is in love with his fancy, fancy tale and his fancy, fancy life and when gloating to a hairless, tail-less cat, Lorenzo is cursed and his own tail gets its own personality. Uh oh. Thus begins a high octane chase where Lorenzo fights for his life against his own tail. Hilarity ensues.
Back in the 1940s, Salvador Dali and Walt Disney decided they could create an awesome collaboration together, combining the heart of Disney and the distinctive style of Dali in an animated film. But World War II happened and that kind of made everything fall apart for Disney animation. Videos that were deemed financially inopportune all got put on the shelf. Eventually, Disney’s nephew, Roy E. Disney found the sketch notes and the original 17 second animation that had been created and decided to begin work on the project again.
The short is a beautiful mix of dance, animation, art, and CGI, that tells the story of the time god Chronos and his doomed love for a mortal girl. While they try and find each other through Dali envisioned landscapes, they always seem to be stopped and can never be together. It’s bittersweet, but really really beautiful.
Chris Tilly wrote:And then on the subject of The Incredibles, he revealed: “I keep asking the guys at Pixar why we didn’t make The Incredibles 2. And nobody can tell me. Personally I think they raised the bar so high that they are worried about making one that’s not as good as the first one. But that happens too – you don’t live up to the expectations of the first one.”
The Black Cauldron was originally much grimmer and graphically violent. Most of the scenes—including a man being sliced in two in silhouette and the Horned King decapitating one of his henchemen—haven't been seen outside of rumor, but the infamous "man being dissolved by the undead" scene has managed to make it to Youtube in some form.
Robert Keeling wrote:This lesser known, yet infamous, Disney movie from 1985 is fairly scary for youngsters the whole way through. The plot sees an evil Horned King seeking to obtain a magical Black Cauldron in order to use it to enslave the entire world. The Horned king is a frightening figure with a skeletal body and glowing red eyes lying beneath his cloak and hood, his low and menacing voice provided by the great John Hurt. Thanks to his evil ways, this became the first Disney movie to be given a PG certificate rather than a U.
Most scenes with the King are fairly harrowing, but one which stands out comes when our young heroes Taran and Princess Eilonwy are trapped in his dungeon, littered with rotting corpses, and the King raises his army of the undead. These ghastly skeletal warriors spring forth from the cauldron and trudge onwards to help the King achieve his diabolical plan.
It’s no surprise that the Disney's animation chief of the time, Jeffrey Katzenberg, ordered several scenes from this sequence cut because their graphic nature (we’re talking necks being slit open here) was deemed too disturbing for young viewers.
Demosthenes wrote:If you happened to have seen this movie, then you may have noticed something that makes this one stand out from the others: there's blood and scary monsters everywhere. This is Disney's first animated movie to receive the rating of PG. The funniest thing about the whole production was the fact that they were actually afraid that they would get an R rating for awhile because of all the violence and scary images. Jeffrey Katzenberg had just taken over as studio chief and when he saw the first version of the movie, he freaked out. He was certain that they would get an R rating which would basically bury the movie. They did a few cuts here and there but it only went down to a PG-13 rating. They cut it down even further and it stopped at where we know it now, PG. Something happened though when they cut out all the dark and violent scenes from the movie; the movie became disjointed. The scenes didn't really mesh together that well anymore. Disney had a problem but they went along anyway hoping the movie would do well with teenage males, a group that it never really appealed to in earlier years. I would like to see what the movie looked like before the cuts to see what Katzenberg thought of as a PG-13 or even R rated movie. One of the most disturbing scenes in any of the Disney movies is the death of the Horned King
Andrew E. Larsen wrote:Andrew E. Larsen is an historian who specializes in Medieval England and blogs about pop culture and history at An Historian Goes to the Movies. In "Disney's Robin Hood: A Bit More Medieval Than You Might Think," Larsen explores the film's true inspiration, which wasn't Robin Hood but a different medieval tale.
A couple weeks ago, I decided that I wanted to tackle a Robin Hood movie, in honor of my friend Liz Shipe's new play, A Lady in Waiting, and went to Netflix, where I ran across the Disney version (1973, dir. Wolfgang Reitherman), which I loved as a child; I have vivid memories of seeing it in the theater more than once. So I decided to re-watch it, because I haven't seen it since. I didn't have high hopes that I would give me much to talk about on this blog, but as it turns out, there is something worth remarking on here.
Robin Hood is a medieval character, dating to at least the 14th century and possibly earlier. There's a lot to say about the whole question of whether he's a historical figure or not, but I'm not going to say it here, since I'm pretty sure that anyone watching this film knows that neither Robin Hood nor Maid Marion were foxes. It's pretty clear that the film isn't historically accurate.
What's probably less clear is that the inspiration for this version of Robin Hood isn't actually Robin Hood at all. Since the 1930s, Walt Disney had been interested in telling a version of the 12th century Alsatian story of Reynard (or Renart) the Fox. In the Roman de Renart, Reynard the Fox is summoned to the court of a cruel lion, King Leo, to answer charges brought against him by Isengrim the Wolf. Leo sends out various agents, including a bear, an ass, and a cat, to get him to court, but Reynard overcomes all three of them (incidentally, the Cat is named Tibert or Tybalt, which is why in Romeo and Juliet, Mercutio calls Tybalt a 'rat-catcher' and 'king of cats'), defeats Isengrim, and becomes Leo's new advisor. This was just the start of a quite complex body of stories about Reynard, many of which were satires directed at aristocratic society.
Medieval illuminators loved scenes like this.
The problem with all this material is that it was extremely violent (the bear gets attacked by bees, Tybalt loses an eye, and Reynard decapitates a rabbit and substitutes its head for a secret treasure). Reynard is a crook, and a deeply anti-authoritarian one at that. Walt Disney concluded that the material simply wasn't appropriate for children. But Ken Anderson, one of the key members of Disney's creative team, held onto the idea an periodically played around with it. In 1968, when the studio was looking for follow-up to The Aristocrats, Anderson suggested doing a Robin Hood story. But Robin Hood is a problematic story for children, since like Reynard, he is anti-authoritarian. However, by merging the two figures and making an animated fox the hero fighting against a cowardly lion who is not the legitimate ruler, Anderson was able to kill two bird with one stone by taming the violence and reducing the anti-authoritarianism of both stories. Additionally, making the story animated rather than live-action helped create distance between the characters and the young audience, reducing the likelihood that they would absorb the anti-authoritarianism of the story.
The choice to model Robin Hood loosely off the story of Reynard was an inspired one. While Reynard is not a familiar figure to English-speaking audiences, foxes are still considered clever and sly, which fits well for Robin Hood. Modeling Prince John after Leo but making him a coward is a brilliant contradiction (as well as echoing the Cowardly Lion of The Wizard of Oz). Isengrim the wolf becomes the villainous Sheriff of Nottingham. Making Allan-a-Dale a rooster riffs nicely on the character of Chaunticleer the Rooster, who is perhaps the most famous (to English-speakers at least) of all the Reynard cycle characters, because Chaucer wrote a version of his conflict with Reynard in "The Second Nun's Tale" in The Canterbury Tales. The addition of two poor church mice as supporting characters is also a clever little joke.
Sadly, Anderson was disappointed in the film, because the studio made substantial changes to his work to make it conform to a style Disney audiences would recognize; reportedly he cried when he saw how much had been changed. There's a nice page that shows the original designs and compares them to sketches of the characters as they finally appeared. Friar Tuck is a particular loss.
The first portion of the film details how Robin tricks Prince John out of his treasure, which is clearly inspired by Reynard's escapades against Leo in the Roman de Renart. The central plot, however, involving the tournament of the Golden Arrow, is drawn from a classic Robin Hood story, but it is probably not medieval. Its source is Child Ballad 152. In the mid-19th century, an American scholar named Francis Child collected a massive body of traditional English, Scottish, and American folk ballads, and this collection, which was first published in 1857, seems to contain the earliest version of that story (at least, I can't find any earlier reference to it, but see the Update below). Child was not the author of the ballads, merely the man who collected them, so Robin Hood and the Golden Arrow is certainly older than the mid-19th century, but how much older is unknown. My guess would be that it's mid-18th century. It might be older than that, but it's unlikely to have originated in the Middle Ages.
Not everything in the film works brilliantly, however. Maid Marion has virtually no role in the film at all, other than to be romanced by Robin. A lot of the animation was re-used from the Jungle Book, and the church mice are lifted from The Aristocats. A few plot points are jarring (why don't John's guards see Little John drilling a hole into the treasure chest they're carrying?). And the film perpetuates false clichés about medieval rulers being able to do anything, like raise taxes at will and throw people in jail for no reason at all.
The choice to cast both American and British voice actors is also problematic, because the accents simply don't work well together. Roger Miller's Allan-a-Dale is particularly discordant, because he's clearly singing in the American country and western tradition rather than anything medieval, and Pat Buttram, who voices the Sheriff, was most famous as Gene Autrey's sidekick (and from Green Acres). While the idea of Western cowboys could have served as a creative kick to the medieval Robin Hood, in my opinion it's unsuccessful (although my younger self didn't have a problem with it, and he was the audience for this film).
Also, as a Wisconsinite, I was rather amused to notice that during the Tournament of the Golden Arrow, when Lady Cluck suddenly turns into a football player while fighting John's guards, the score shifts to a version of "On Wisconsin". It's definitely not medieval and most of the audience is likely to miss the joke, but it's still a nice touch.
So if you're in the mood to see Robin Hood if it were staged by furries, Disney's Robin Hood is the film for you. If you're in the mood for something more modern and you're in the Milwaukee area, check out A Lady in Waiting;you've still got a week to catch it!
Update: A friend of mine pointed out to me that Child Ballad 152 is partly based on the Gest of Robyn Hode, a mid-15th century poem that does feature an archery tournament. So while Child 152 is probably late 18th century, its source material is genuinely medieval. Thanks, Mark!
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