Recently, I read a great article by our writer Stephen Cleath asking if we really need more Disney live-action remakes. I will admit that when the movies were first being advertised, the Disney purist in me was a little riled up. How could they do this to our classics? Why can’t they just keep putting out new and exciting content like Moana and Frozen? Cinderella came out to theaters and I turned my nose right up. “Hmph … I’m not giving them my money for ruining my childhood” (Me acting like a spoiled princess myself). With this new boom in Disney live-action remakes, we all kind of got indignant and seemed to forget that this isn’t the first time.
I couldn’t see the vision at the time. I couldn’t see past the magic of my youth to the more mature magic that Disney is creating with their live-action remakes. So, I started to take a look at all the reasons why I loved Disney growing up. Did I really have any right to doubt their decision to try and remake these beautiful fairy tales? Well … I guess my answer to that is, not really. I am now caught up on all the recent remakes, and after reading Mr. Cleath’s argument against these movies, I feel the need to explain why we DO need these modernized classics.
Long Overdue Answers to Plot Holes
I didn’t have a conventional mother growing up. I had some stepmothers here and there (some evil, some not), and because of this, I found comfort in Disney movies. After all, Walt Disney had lost his mother tragically, and many speculate this is why Disney movies are lacking in the strong mother figure category. The lack of not just mothers, but in some cases also both parents, definitely caused some questions across the board. If you take a look at just two of the recent remakes, Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast, you’d see that they actually took care to explain the losses of the princesses’ mothers.
The whole opening montage of the live action Cinderella was absolutely beautiful. Her unconditional love and passion for her family didn’t come through in the animated movie. The animated movie was just a fun magical fairy tale, and the live action movie gave us the character development we deserved in all of our early Disney classics. It gave us a better understanding of why Ella didn’t just run off after being treated like such garbage. Her home was filled with all the memories she had left of her parents and leaving would mean leaving them behind.
Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast’s heartbreaking tribute to Belle’s parents is also equally as beautiful. Not only do we get the answer about what happened to her mother, but we also get a glimpse of her father’s love for his daughter and wife. I have overheard some complaining about adding the magical book that transports Belle and the Beast to her home as an infant. ThisIsInsider.com brings up an excellent point about how instead of getting the one big question answered, we now have at least a dozen more revolving around this “unnecessary” addition to the story (They also have a great article diving into 10 questions the live action Beauty and the Beast answered for us).
In Pete’s Dragon, we are also given more tragic backstory. Within the first 10 minutes of that movie, I was sobbing. It was always easy to kind of dismiss Pete’s parents in the 1977 version, the movie opens with Pete running away from his foster family. As a child, I guess I always assumed that was his family, and they were terrible people and that’s why he wanted to run away. The 2016 remake (or re-imagining if you will), did a wonderful job at drawing parents into Pete’s story. It’s easy for a young child to see this wild and free young boy and cartoon boy and kind of get fixated on the fun of it all. But, the 2016 Pete’s Dragon showed the love and companionship between Pete and Elliott, but also brought about the idea of a more mature or realistic type of magic that hadn’t quite been done before. Between the real raw emotions and the fact that they set the movie in the ‘80s, you’re kind of left with a sense of feeling like magic might actually be out there.
Expanding Their Audience
In a world where it seems kids are too eager to grow up, we are faced with shortened attention spans and the belief in silly childhood things is dying out earlier and earlier. So many of us try to show our children the true original Disney classics (think Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella), and we’re met with tiny versions of ourselves turning their nose up at things we have loved our entire lives (Thankfully my kids finally came around to the classics). So, is it not possible that these new live-action remakes are getting the attention of the next generations?
Not only that but, sometimes, us parents, need a break from the constant animania (a term I take to mean an overload of all things animated) that tends to happen when you have small children. The beautiful scores and well-crafted new songs are a welcome addition too, at least my household. I was ever so apprehensive to embrace Beauty and the Beast remaking the original songs, something I was thankful Cinderella didn’t do. Luckily, I was more than pleasantly surprised. The remakes were very well done AND the original songs in both movies added another special touch to set these apart from the animated originals.
Even beyond the people with kids, adults who maybe didn’t grow up on the animated movies, now have a segway into the magical world of Disney. I have single adult friends that wouldn’t go and see the latest Disney animated movie because it doesn’t necessarily appeal to them now. But, at least a couple of those same friends were truly intrigued by the live-action remake of The Jungle Book and are actually super excited to see how The Lion King will be done. Disney has found a way to not only continue producing engaging content for their lifelong fans but also draw in a whole new demographic. This is just one of the many quite brilliant ways Disney is staying relevant.
Holy Loads of Spectacular Talent
One thing that really can’t be disputed is the incredible talent in all the live-action movies so far. Now I suppose that CAN be disputed and will but whether you like a particular actor or not, I really truly feel that the casting was on point for almost all the characters. Though seeing Lily James cast as Cinderella sort of rubbed me the wrong way (due to her role in Downton Abbey), but within minutes of the movie starting I was convinced. That is sometime the problem with casting, especially with big name celebrities, that we have preconceived ideas of who someone is based on the characters they have played. So, I think maybe it was a little bit of Disney magic mixed with the undeniable talent that sold me on so many of the brilliant cast choices.
And although the vocal talents of the voice over actors in the animated classics were wonderful, the live action movies show us a totally different side to the stories we all love. Sure, as I mentioned, it’s sometimes hard to step away from actors’ previous roles but once you allow yourself to do so, you are transported into another world that feels more real than any animated tale could feel. Pete’s Dragon is the perfect example of this. You feel for all the humans involved in this story but the realism behind Elliott brings your heart to a place of finding compassion for this seemingly orphaned dragon.
It’s all these reasons and more that turned me from a naysayer to a total fangirl. I have always loved Disney and although I may have turned my nose up at first, I couldn’t just turn my back on them now. I am beyond excited for what’s to come, if not only to see if we get anymore Disney mystery questions answered. So for now, I’m staying cautiously optimistic as I watch my childhood favorite animated classics become my favorite live-action classics.
Here’s what we have to look for coming out in 2019:
What do you think? Do you have a favorite live-action remake? Which one are you most looking forward to?
Featured image credit: Disney