Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Disney's Hercules

If you know me, then you know that I love history. Not ancient history though, with one exception: Greek Mythology. I have always found Greek Mythology fascinating. So I suppose you could chalk up my love of Hercules to that fact. I don't think it's just that though. Hercules is an incredibly funny movie, definitely the most since Aladdin. Its got tons of pop culture references and jokes that only someone who knows Greek Mythology would get. In other words, it's well researched and clever. My old Hercules CD is probably the most scratched up CD I own thanks to how much I listened to it as a kid. I just really liked the songs from this film and I still do. For me this film gives a perfect blend of humor and drama. It's not overly dramatic, but you still feel tension at the end of the film and feel that the relationship between Hercules and Megara is real. There's deception, anger, love, baby-stealing, fight scenes, and like I have mentioned, a lot of humor. I just don't see how anyone couldn't love this movie! The movie also contains my favorite Disney hero, Hercules. To me, Hercules is a symbol of the ultimate good, someone incorruptible....like Batman! I've always seen a little bit of myself in the character too, however cheesy that may sound. We're both naive, awkward, and generally really nice guys. I unfortunately don't have the super human strength, but hey, we can't have everything. Hercules focuses on the age old question: What does it mean to be a true hero? What does it entail and how can someone achieve such a title?

Production started on Hercules as early as 1994 and lasted through 1997. I'm guessing that the studio wanted to tackle something a little different. Disney in the past has generally gone with stories based on books or fairy tales, but hadn't delved into any specific mythology, unless you count the "Pastoral" segment of Fantasia. So, this was a little bit of a change for Disney. Disney realized early on that when people thought of Greek Mythology, they generally thought of academic books and a bunch of other boring stuff that wouldn't interest most people. So, they gave the story their own spin, made it a little more contemporary and made the characters more Americanized and relateable. No cartoon about gods philandering about or being extremely devious (unless we're talking about Hades). Instead Disney watered down Greek Mythology to make it acceptable for children, because if you've read Greek Mythology, then you know some of the stories are pretty messed up. Another thing that makes this movie different from any other Disney film is the animation style. To get a unique style for the movie, Disney hired Gerald Scarfe to be their animation adviser. Scarfe is best known for his artwork in Pink Flyod's The Wall. With his direction and further inspiration from Greek artwork and architecture, the movie has a distinct look that sets it apart from all the others.

In terms of character designs and mannerisms, some artists had a little bit of trouble. Andreas Deja, who was the primary animator for Scar, Gaston, and Jafar decided that he would this time tackle a protagonist instead of a antagonist. He found the task hard but got a lot of help from watching Tate Donovan (the voice of adult Hercules) act out his lines. Meg's design and mannerisms were based off a 40's screwball comedienne and now that I've learned that, I can really see it in the character. Hades character was meant to be a very menacing, slow talking villain, but once James Wood auditioned, they decided to change the character to a easy to anger, fast talking Hollywood agent/used car salesman sort of villain. I'm glad they made the change, because Hades is one of my favorite villains because of his demeanor. And finally, the character of Phil was based off of Grumpy from Snow White and Bacchus from Fantasia.

Half the fun of this movie is the voice cast. Notable voices include some that I already mentioned like Tate Donovan (Love Potion No. 9) as the voice of the adult Hercules and James Woods (Casino) as god of the underworld, Hades. Woods incidentally pulled a Robin Williams and ended up ad-libbing almost all of his lines. Woods must of really liked the role, because he has basically promised Disney that whenever they need him to reprise his role as Hades, he'll do it. And he has, voicing him in the animated series and in the Kingdom Hearts video games. Other voice talents included Danny DeVito (Big Fish, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) as Philoctetes, Susan Egan (Spirited Away) as Megara, Rip Torn (Men In Black) as Zeus, Bobcat Goldthwait (Police Academy 2,3,4) as Pain, Matt Frewer (50/50) as Panic, Wayne Knight (Seinfeld, Jurassic Park) as Demetrius, Hal Holbrook (All The President's Men) as Amphitryon, Paul Shaffer (Late Show with David Letterman) as Hermes, and the late, great, Charlston Heston (Planet of the Apes, Ben-Hur) as the narrator. This is probably the only chance you'll get to hear Heston say: "You go girls." I'm not sure though, he may have also said it in The Ten Commandments. Needless to say, the movie as an all-star cast, from old stars like Holbrook and Heston, to newer ones like Donovan and DeVito (not new anymore). Everyone is perfect for the roles, too. It would literally blow my mind if they had someone else voice Hades in something Hercules related. I'm also glad they got Tate Donovan to do the voice of Hercules in the animated series.

In Greek Mythology, Hercules, or Heracles, or Herakles, is the son of Zeus and a mortal named Alcmene. That is the reason he is a demi-god, not because he was poisoned by Hades. Zeus however was married to Hera at the time, and you can imagine that Hera was pretty pissed. Hera was also pretty mad when she found out that Zeus had been using Hera to breast feed Hercules while she was asleep. The breast feeding allowed Hercules to become partially immortal and gave him super human strength. Hera decided to hold a grudge against Hercules for the rest of his partially immortal life and eventually sent him into a blind frenzy that caused him to murder his wife and kids. After he became sane again he sought the Oracle of Delphi to make atonement for what he had done. The Oracle told Hercules that he must serve Eurystheus, king of Mycenae. Eurystheus in turn gave him the tasks known as the Labors of Hercules. There were twelve in all, and if you watch or listen closely during the movie, Hercules completes five of the tasks while two more are mentioned by Phil when Hercules is posing. The tasks he completes in the film are: Kill the Nemean Lion, destroy the Lernaean Hydra, trap the Erymanthian Boar, butcher the Stymphalian Birds, and capture Cerberus. The two Phil mentions are cleaning the Augean Stables and retreiving the Gold Girdle from "some Amazons."

Interestingly enough, the battle between Hercules and the centaur, Nessus, in the movie is almost the same story as how he saved his second wife, Deianeira. Nessus offers to ferry them across a river, though one at a time. Nessus uses this ploy to kidnap Deianeira. When Hercules sees what's going on, he shoots Nessus with an arrow poisoned with Hydra blood. Before Nessus dies, he tells Deianeira to take some of his blood, for it was a very powerful medicine. He claimed that if Hercules ever became unfaithful, that his blood would make him fall in love with her again. She believes her would be kidnapper for some reason and takes some of his blood. Years later, Deianeira started to get the inkling that Hercules had fallen in love with another, so she covered his robe with Nessus' blood and sent a servant to give the robe to Hercules. The servant spilled some of the blood on the floor and when the sun rays hit the blood, it started to burn. Deianeira knew something was up so she sent someone to stop the first servant. It was too late however, as Hercules had already put on the robe. The blood, still poisoned by the Hydra's blood made the robe burn into Hercules flesh. He threw himself into water to quell the burning but it only made it worse. He ripped the robe off himself and took most of his internal organs with it. Furious, he threw the first servant into the sea. He then told his good friend Philoctetes to build him a pyre on the mountain of Oata. He was then burned to death on the pyre and made into a god by Zeus. Deianeira committed suicide after she found out what she had done. Great ending, right? Sanitation was definitely needed. I don't think it would have been wise of Disney to show Hercules ripping his own organs out.

Disney attempted to have Hercules premiere at Pynx Hill in Greece, but the government forbid it. In fact Greece basically considered the whole thing an insult due to the fact that it wasn't even close to the real myth. My opinion: who the hell cares? Did they really expect Disney to do a faithful adaption of Hercules' life? The story is super violent and inappropriate for children! Yes, they Americanized the hell out of it, but why did the Greek government have to be such sticks in the mud? Hercules got its wide release on June 27th, 1997. The movie did not do that well in comparison to the other Disney movies released during the Renaissance. In fact, it did the worst of all save for The Rescuers Down Under. I literally have no idea how that is possible. How could people not want to see this movie?! It's hip, it's got a good mixture of R&B/Soul music with a classical soundtrack, it's funny, and it's got the battle with the hydra! That freaked me out as a kid but it was still freaking cool! Disney blamed it on competition, which I guess could have been it. Face/Off, Men in Black, Contact, and George of the Jungle all came out around the same time and could have stolen a few people. But here is the question of the day: Does having competition cause your movie not to get seen? If I want to see a movie, I see it, no matter how many other movies are out. And besides George of the Jungle, it's the only children's movie that was out at the time. I don't know, maybe people decided to just spend their money on Men in Black. Hercules only grossed $99 million domestically, while earning $252 million in all, so it did much better overseas. Critical reviews were positive to mixed. Siskel and Ebert gave it one thumb up, Ebert liking it and Siskel not. It has an 83% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Things you may have missed/interesting tid-bits:
  • When Hercules hits his head on the mast of the Argo, Phil tells him to watch it. Jason, captain of the Argo, was killed when the mast struck his head.
  • Hermes delivers flowers to Hera, a nod to FTD Florists whose registered trademark is a picture of Hermes.
  • The Spice Girls were considered for the parts of the muses.
  • The first film since Oliver and Company where the villain doesn't sing.
  • "Air Herc" is a parody of Nike/Air Jordans. Nike was the Greek goddess who personified triumph.
  • Phil's line, "I'm walking here!" after he almost gets hit by a chariot is a direct reference to the movie Midnight Cowboy.
  • During "Zero to Hero," when Hercules flies on top of Pegasus in front of star constellations, one is of Marilyn Monroe doing her famous scene from The Seven Year Itch.
  • Thebes is meant to be a Greek version of New York City, even so far as calling it "The Big Olive."
  • During Meg's song, "I Won't Say I'm in Love," the muses sing while appearing as marble busts. The way they are arranged, they match the singing marble busts from The Haunted Mansion at Disney World/Land.
  • Ricky Martin does the voice of Hercules in the Spanish version.
  • Pain and Panic are named for two of the four henchmen of Ares, Phobos and Deimos. The names roughly translate into Pain and Panic. Phobos and Deimos are also the two moons of Mars, Mars being the Roman name for Ares.
  • When Pain and Panic are pretending to be the kids trapped beneath the rock, one shouts, "Someone call IX-I-I, otherwise known as 9-1-1 in Roman Numerals.
  • Paul Shaffer, who is best known as the keyboard playing band leader on Late Night with David Letterman, voices Hermes, who at the end of the film is seen playing the keyboard.
  • And finally, Scar from The Lion King makes an appearance as the lion's skin that Hercules is wearing when he is posing for a painting.

I can't say enough on why I love this movie. From the epic battle with the hydra, to the emotional ending, to the complicated relationships, this movie has everything. This movie shows us what it means to be a true hero, and that is to be willing to risk/give up your life in order to save someone you care about. In other words, it takes sacrifice. While many might consider themselves hero's, they might not be, just for the simple fact that they put themselves before others. Please watch this movie again if you haven't in a while. You won't be disappointed.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Hunchback is perhaps the most serious and adult cartoon film Disney has ever come out with. While not terrifying to younger kids like The Black Cauldron may have been, Hunchback delves into very mature matters that go over kid's heads. While being extremely watered down to make it a G movie, the film still deals with lust, infanticide, sin, profanity, religious hypocrisy, the concept of Hell, prejudice, and social injustice, as well as the acceptance that Quasimodo longs for. As a child I understood the main concept of the movie; don't judge a book by its cover and to not be prejudice. Almost everything else didn't really hit me. But I knew, even then, that this was a far darker film than any I had seen, at least in the Disney realm. Now, Bluth films, that's another story. The Secret of NIMH freaked me the hell out when I was young. How is this film dark? Well, for starters, the beginning has Frollo about to drop a baby down a well. Frollo has that whole song about his messed up love for Esmeralda. Then you have Clopin who seems all nice until they go underground and then he gets all sinister. I still don't like Clopin to this day. The guard burn down those people's house, Esmeralda is almost burned at the stake, and the whole Court of Miracles is guarded by a bunch of people in skeleton costumes. Not exactly kid stuff. Now, that doesn't make the film bad. I do like it a lot. More now then I did when I was young. It definitely has one of the best openings of any Disney film. Also, have you ever noticed that evil characters also have evil horses? Just saying.

So how did Disney get the bright idea to adapt a depressing book into a children's movie? Well, development executive David Stain had apparently been reading the Classics Illustrated comic book edition of the story and decided to pitch it to the Disney higher ups. Disney liked the idea and wanted Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise to direct. They were looking at a few other projects but they didn't seem to be working so they decided to drop what they were doing and join up. This was the second time Trousdale and Wise directed a Disney film, the first being Beauty and the Beast. Both had read the story and knew they had to do something to make the story more child friendly. So, they added three talking gargoyles, make Quasimodo, Esmeralda, and Phoebus kinder than they are in the novel, and making Frollo a judge instead of an archdeacon. I'm guessing they didn't want an evil religious character. To get some inspiration, animators and many others in the crew traveled to Paris to get some detailed looks at Notre Dame itself and make the film as accurate as possible. A small note about the animation. Remember the song Topsy Turvy? If you look at the crowd during it, and in fact at any other time there is a large crowd, you'll notice that there aren't that many different looking people. Disney basically created a group and had their computers regenerate them a bunch of different times to make it look like Paris is packed. I remember seeing a thing about it on the Disney Channel a long time ago, but can't find the clip now.

Some of the voice actors were picked because they had already worked with Trousdale and Wise on Beauty and the Beast, namely Tony Jay and David Odgen Stiers who voice Judge Claude Frollo and the Archdeacon, respectively, and who had voiced Monsieur D'arque and Cogsworth, respectively, in Beauty and the Beast. Others were picked because they had a unique voice, namely Demi Moore, who voiced Esmeralda. The producers wanted a non-traditional voice for Esmeralda and apparently Moore had the right kind of unusual voice! The voice of Clopin was found when the directors saw Paul Kandel playing a role in a stage version of Tommy. Quasimodo was voiced by Tom Hulce who is best known for portraying Mozart in Amadeus. Kevin Kline voiced Captain Phoebus, Kline best known for...well he's in a lot of weird movies, but I'm sure you've seen Wild Wild West. No? Good for you! If you were more fortunate you saw him in Dave or A Fish Called Wanda. The most recognizable of the gargoyles is probably Jason Alexander, who was in this little show that you probably haven't heard of called Seinfeld. The music was again tackled by Alan Menken. I really like the music for this film. The whole thing reminds me more of a Broadway musical than any other Disney movie. From "The Bells of Notre Dame," to "God Save the Outcasts," to "Topsy Turvy," this movie has Broadway written all over it.

Victor Hugo's novel, in which the film is based off of, has been widely portrayed in different mediums, whether in movies, television, plays, or comic books. So it's safe to say that it's a fairly popular story. But unless you've read the book or seen one of the other movies that is more faithful to the book, then you don't know what really happens. The story begins at the feast of fools, where Quasimodo is crowned King of Fools. The gypsy Esmeralda shows up and Quasimodo, along with Captain Phoebus, and Archdeacon of Notre Dame Claude Frollo. Frollo, like in the movie, is torn between his obsession with Esmeralda and his dedication to wiping Paris clean of sin. He orders Quasimodo to capture Esmeralda, but Quasimodo is quickly captured by Phoebus and his guards who save Esmeralda. Quasimodo is sentenced to be flogged and put out in the middle of the square for humiliation. Bounded, Quasimodo is dying of thirst, and Esmeralda takes pity on him and gives him water, thus saving him. He is now completely smitten.

Esmeralda is later charged with the attempted murder of Captain Phoebus, though it was actually Frollo who tried to kill him, seeing that he was about to score with Esmeralda. She is sentenced to death by hanging and is only saved from the noose when Quasimodo swings down and spirits her away to Notre Dame, invoking the law of sanctuary. Clopin, a street performer, and a bunch of Paris' criminals attempt to save Esmeralda by storming Notre Dame. Frollo convinces the King to help him get Esmeralda out of Notre Dame, basically breaking the law. Quasimodo is confused and drives Clopin and the riff-raff away, thinking they are there to hurt Esmeralda. He then decides to help the King's men find her, thinking they are there to help. Frollo "rescues" Esmeralda but is unsuccessful in winning her heart, so he does what any reasonable person would do: he has her hanged. Frollo laughs as Esmeralda is hung which sends Quasimodo into a fury. Quasimodo pushes Frollo off of the high reaches of Notre Dame in anger, then goes to the vault where they threw Esmeralda's corpse. He lays down with it until he starves to death. When people open the vault later and find the skeletons, Quasimodo's bones turn to dust upon trying to remove them. Happy ending right? Almost everybody dies! Hooray! An interesting note is that the book's true protagonist was Esmeralda, not Quasimodo. If you think about it, this movie is one of the only ones, besides maybe Pocahantas, where the guy doesn't get the gal. Depressing! At least they both don't die though. I always didn't like the ending of this movie though. I though Quasimodo deserved a little more hapiness! Oh well. At least Frollo died at the hands of what I can only assume was God's will. Coincidence that the gargoyles head just happend to fall off when he was on it? I think not.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame was released on June 21st, 1996 with the premiere coming two days before, screening at the New Orleans Superdome. The film went on to gross just a little over $100 million domestically, making it not one of the better money making Disney films of the Renaissance era. It did however do pretty well overseas, as one can imagine. Most critics gave the movie mixed reviews, claiming that it was too adult for kids and thus not appropriate for them. Others, mostly ones that were diehard fans of the novel, claimed that the film was too watered down and that the characters fell back on cliches. In other words, Disney couldn't win. While it may not be the very best of the Renaissance era, it still is one of the most breathtaking. The songs alone are worth seeing the movie for. So, if you haven't seen this one in awhile, dust it off and give it a watch.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Disney's Pocahontas

Pocahontas is one of those films that I didn't really appreciate when I was younger. It's still not my favorite Disney movie, but now that I'm older I can understand a few more concepts of the movie. When I was younger it just seemed like a Disney history lesson. Kids do not want history lessons in their movies. Trust me, I have to try and teach kids the stuff. Fortunately for me, I wasn't learning anything for real because almost everything that happens in the movie didn't actually happen. I'll get to that later. While some of the events may have been a bit different, Pocahontas still has its feet stuck in the ground of history. After all, this was the first Disney movie to be based on a real person (No, the Little Mermaid was not real). You don't have to love or to have studied history to enjoy this movie, though. Pocahontas is a beautifully animated and moral story about what can happen when you put yourself in someone else's shoes. It has great songs, and though it has a serious tone, it still has plenty of humor in it. All this makes for a classic Disney movie that is still loved by kids and adults alike.

I honestly wasn't able to find too much on the production of Pocahontas, so I'll just list the things I found out. Like I said in the last post, Pocahontas was started around the same time as The Lion King, with a lot of the more distinguished animators choosing to work on it, finding it more prestigious. They were right and wrong. If they wanted to work on a film that was successful and would be cited as one of the best of all time, then they bet on the wrong horse. If they wanted to work on a film that was expertly stylized and had a more serious tone, then they did choose the right project. Production took a good five years because of the way they chose to animate the movie. In fact, Pocahontas is labelled one of the hardest movies to animate for the Disney studios. With its complex color schemes, angular shapes, and facial expressions, it took the animators quite a bit of time to really get it all finished. It paid off however, as Pocahontas is cited as one of the most beautifully and realistically drawn of any character in the Disney canon. If you want a type of animation to compare it to, just think about 101 Dalmatians or Sleeping Beauty. Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz took on the music for Pocahontas. Together they wrote such stand outs like "Just Around the River Bend," "Colors of the Wind,""Mine, Mine, Mine" and "Savages." The songs dealt with life choices, appreciating things that you don't understand, mindless greed, and jaded perspectives, respectively. Howard Ashman had planned on writing the songs for the movie with Menken but unfortunately passed away partway into Aladdin's production. The song "If I Never Knew You" was cut from the film, even though it had been fully animated and only lacked color. Disney had done a test screening and kids apparently found it boring. It found it's way back into the movie when the 10th anniversary DVD was released.

Since this was Disney's first historical account, they went all out to try and get an accurate representation of what things were like back then. They researched guns, clothing, boats, Native American culture, and a bit about Pocahontas herself. In an attempt to make it as accurate as possible, Disney hired Native Americans to help them get the history and culture right. This apparently didn't help since the movie was still labeled a complete fabrication by prominent Native American activist who claimed Disney watered down the wrongs done to the Native American people and how Disney stuck to basic Native American stereotypes in the movie. That's the problem with doing anything history based: someone will always say that it's wrong. Have you heard of a historical movie where everyone was happy with the end result? Nope! Some historian has to point out that there weren't those types of guns in that decade or that the word "Radical" was not uttered by Joan of Arc. Details, details. So, if you decide to someday make a historical movie, prepare to get dumped on by someone.

To help in authenticity, Disney also hired Native Americans to do the voices for most of the characters in the movie. Irene Bedard provided both the voice and the physical model for Pocahontas. John Smith was voiced by none other than Mel Gibson. Strangely this was something I didn't know about until many years later. This was the first film that Gibson actually sang in. Batman...er...Christian Bale voiced Thomas, and would later go on to play John Rolfe in The New World. David Ogden Stiers, though not a very recognizable name, voiced Ratcliffe, along with many other characters in Disney movies such as Cogsworth, the Archdeacon in The Hunchback, and Mr. Harcourt in Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Flit the hummingbird and Meeko the raccoon were supposed to be talking characters, but in an attempt to make a more serious film, they became mute. Instead, Meeko is "voiced" by John Kassir, best known as the voice of the Crypt Keeper, and Flit is voiced by the legend himself, Frank Welker. A sad note is that John Candy had done a bunch of lines for a Pocahontas sidekick named Redfeather, a turkey. Unfortunately, Candy passed away in 1994 and the idea was scrapped.

So remember when I said that the story isn't exactly accurate? Well, here is the real story of Pocahontas. Well, at least a shortened version. John Smith and his fellow Englishmen land in the new world in 1607. Like with most expeditions in the new world, the Europeans have a few encounters with the natives, some friendly and some not so friendly. Smith was apparently minding his own business, floating down a river, when he was captured by a relative of Chief Powhatan. Smith describes in his journal talking to Powhatan and a large feast that takes place. And that's about it. It's not until a later letter about the capture that he mentions the chief's daughter Pocahantas saving him from execution. Many historians express doubt as to the Pocahantas saving him part of his story, mainly because he had a similar thing happen when he was captured by Turks in Hungary. Smith was most likely remembering the earlier event and reused the story to make Pocahontas more infamous. The first account of him just talking to Powhatan is probably all that is accurate about his many accounts, as Powhatan would want to speak to the settlers about why they were there. There is proof that Smith was friends with Pocahontas before the episode however, as she and a few others would come by every once and awhile and bring food to the settlers. This was before the people of Jamestown got greedy and attempted to take more land and food. Some have the theory that the event did happen but Smith misunderstood it. Historians argue that he was part of a ritual of death and rebirth and didn't know it. Smith "died" and was reborn as part of the tribe. This theory, along with many others, has a lot of holes in it, so no one is really quite sure what really happened. Darn you, History! Smith was later injured in a gunpowder explosion and taken back to England. Pocahontas thought he was dead until she found him years later in England, she being already married to John Rolfe.

The important thing to take from this is that Pocahontas was likely around ten years old when this all happened, so she and John Smith were not lovers in any way. Her interest in John Smith would of been nothing but childhood curiosity. Smith would have been around 27 and sporting a full beard. Sorry ladies, but he didn't look like the Disney John Smith. She apparently married Kocoum in 1612, but that probably ended when she was captured by the English in 1613. So, let's go over this: Pocahontas was not a woman in her late teens, early 20's, she did in fact marry Kocoum, she and John Smith did not have a romantic relationship, and her saving John Smith probably didn't happen. Sorry if I ruined the Disney version for you. So, you can see how Disney took a few liberties with their story. It's not entirely their fault, as there were versions of the Pocahontas story with John Smith and her as love interests for quite a long time before Disney came around. The one thing the movie did get right, besides some character names and places, was the fact that John Smith is hurt and is taken back to England in the end. No happy ending for Pocahontas. That seems a bit odd for a Disney movie. Also, the villain doesn't die. That is a rarity in the newer Disney movies. A bunch in the older ones don't meet their end, but it seems Disney is getting a little darker as the years go by.

Pocahontas premiered at Central Park in New York City attracting a crowd of 100,000 people. It still holds the record for attendance at a premiere. The movie came out in theaters June, 16th 1995, garnering good reviews and became a box office success. In the end, the movie made $141 million domestically, which isn't bad for a Disney movie, but paled in comparison to The Lion King. Fortunately, no one expected Pocahontas to beat The Lion King. The reviews were alright, but not stellar. Critics praised the fantastic animation but didn't like the story as much. The much publicized reaction from Native Americans probably didn't help with some of the reviews. It's still up there in the Disney Renaissance, though. I think it was the more serious tone that hurt the film, as I know I really didn't care for it as a kid. Disney apparently didn't learn its lesson as it took on another serious film in The Hunchback of Notre Dame the very next year.