Revamping the Classics

If you’re a nostalgic nineties child, it’s hard to say goodbye to the classics and accept Disney’s new-generation remakes.

By Kristina Fernandez, Florida State University


Since the birth of Mickey Mouse, Disney has taken the world by storm.

Notable areas Disney has sunk their teeth into include film, television, theme parks, merchandise, cruise liners and businesses, like the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As a multi-billion-dollar business, the Disney Corporation prides itself on imagination and dreaming. In the past few years, Disney has been recreating live-action versions of their classic, animated films.

While Disney has good intentions for revamping the animated films into live-action, audiences are left feeling like the company is killing the magic. To put it simply, recreating these films is a gamble. Some of them take off and find success, like “Jungle Book” (2016), which was received incredibly well and is currently in the works for a sequel. Other remakes, though, like the forgettable “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” (2010), don’t quite work.

Creating live-action versions of animated films can be ineffective, because it takes away certain aspects that made the animated films so special. Animated Disney movies drown you in nostalgia, so when a live-action remake is announced, it should not only satisfy the feeling of watching the original film as a child, but also provide enough emotional satisfaction to last a lifetime.

If the animated films were a major part of your childhood, you associate them with happy memories. In order to meet the emotional expectations of familiarized audiences, the live-action films have a lot of work to do. If the remake does anything less than tug on heartstrings and pay proper respects to the original film, the chances of success are slim.

Younger generations also need to be taken into consideration. Most people in their mid-twenties and older are familiar with the Disney classics, but some younger children may be seeing the new version of “The Jungle Book” before the original animation. Comparing the two, the newest version may not be the best first impression of a Disney film.

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Image via Hypable

There is a charm that comes with the artistry of animation. Most would rather see Bambi as a big-eyed, bushy-tailed deer rather than a CGI representation of the actual animal. The remakes rely heavily on special effects, which are interesting when looking at how cinematic technology has advanced, but, for the most part, special effects can take away from the narrative. Audiences could focus more on the CGI visuals rather than paying attention to the story.

Live-action retellings also tend to be on the serious side. “Snow White and the Huntsman” (2016) was rated PG-13, which clearly leans toward an older audience. With the live-action films’ adult approach, Disney films tend to have significantly less singing compared to the animated-feature films. It may be safe to assume that the live-action “Mulan” (2018) will not have “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” in it. The recently announced “Lion King” remake will likely be missing classic tunes as well. The absence of these popular songs will take a major piece away from what made the classic films so special.

Beauty and the Beast” is the latest release in the queue of live-action remakes. The Disney-princess movies may be the company’s most popular feature. Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Mulan and Ariel all have, or are going to have, their own live-action films. While remaking these popular classics seems like an intelligent business move, the issue of having actresses portray Disney princesses is problematic.

Live-Action Disney Films Are Ruining the Magic

Image via Geeks of Doom

In live-action, the lead-actress becomes the new face of the character. Before, it was easy for any brunette to align themselves with the animated Belle, but now, kids will assume they have to look like Emma Watson (Belle) or Lily James (Cinderella). When the animated representation is replaced by an actual person, children are unable to relate in the way they had previously.

In defense of the live-action films, it is understandable that Disney wants to revamp the movies in a new light. Recreating such successful classics is a risk the company is able to afford. The remakes are not Disney’s first attempts to rebuild excitement for the classic stories. Disney has been releasing anniversary vault-films for years, but this current route is a fresh way to bring back the lovable narratives.

On the business side, if the films are successful, it makes sense to keep cranking out more new-generation versions, as the remakes are a smart way to increase profit. Despite audience skepticism, Disney ultimately needs to look out for themselves and ensure the company is maintaining large amounts of revenue, which is necessary to sustain their different branches of business.

Various elements are pushing against live-action Disney films, but if you are someone who likes the remakes, you have every right to enjoy them. The films are made for all audiences to appreciate, not only people in their mid-twenties and older. While Disney doesn’t have to purely stick to animation for children, when they recreate their classic tales, they shouldn’t forget their primary audience.

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