? It’s a simple question, really. However, it also raises more questions than answers. At the end of the day, is likely something that is unable to quantify. That won’t stop us! Let’s break down what exactly we mean by a ‘ ‘.
What is a M?
Umm, a 58 current as well as their animated classicslive action remakes and a handful of other movies like Enchanted. Our main criteria has less to do with plot and setting as it does tone and message. made by , right? Well, yes. But also, no. For our purposes, we’re going to be discussing the
In this sense, the more edgy owned properties like the saga and the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies are not included.
This applies doubly for films that are merely produced by Walt Studios / Buena Vista Pictures. These are films that didn’t create under the brand, but simply produced. As such, there’s a whole host of R- Rated movies like Pretty Woman and Tombstone that are absolutely not ‘ movies‘ by our definition.
So Any Film That Stars a Pa M, Right? is
You’re absolutely right! A vast number of as their protagonist and they’re very often the namesake of the too. animated classics star a Mulan, Pocahontas, Cinderella; the list goes on.
However, just starring a a make. Some of the most iconic films ever made like does not 6, Winnie the Pooh, and Lilo and Stitch have zilch to do with princesses and castles. True, films like The Hunchback of Notre Dame still feature a prominent heroine in a leading role, but even that isn’t a completely essential element of a .
Brother Bear for example, follows two male protagonists and so does The Emperor’s New Groove. The point is, a a , but that doesn’t mean all movies are movies. may be
Ok, So Does the Aa M? Style Make it
That’s a little more tricky. While there is absolutely a recognizable ‘2D (also known as ), and 3D . Saving Mr. Banks, The and the Frog, and Tangled all look completely disparate, yet they’re clearly all movies. style’, the studio experiments with it quite a bit. Firstly, there’s the obvious differences between live action,
Then you get more refined differences. Many of the 2D animated classics take inspiration from whichever country’s culture the is set in. As a result, Incan inspired The Emperor’s New Groove looks completely different to the Chinese watercolors of Mulan or the traditional Germanic fairytale aesthetic of Cinderella.
However, as a rule avoids unappealing designs for its protagonists, creating an aesthetic that makes it immediately obvious who the villains will be. That was, until Frozen. Prior to Frozen, you could usually spot a villain a mile away as either:
a) an arrogant henchman like Gaston or Clayton
b) a scheming woman like Mother Gothel or Cruella De Vil, or
c) an other worldly creature like Ursula or Maleficent.
There are exceptions like Scar and Jafar, of course, but Hans really redefined the cliché by having the villain appear to be a male protagonist.
So, W a M Then?
If you ask us, what really makes a a is something far less tangible. It’s about the lessons that the films impart, the tone, and the narrative structure.
Without a doubt, the most unifying factor across all movies is the finale, which is almost universally an uplifting word of hope, that good will prevail and evil will fail. Almost every ends with (a sometimes brutal) punishment for the evildoer while the heroes (say it with me) live happily ever after.
In very rare circumstances like Cinderella II: Dreams Come True a former villain might find some kind of redemption, but most of the time they’re not surviving for the sequel.
This one kind of goes hand in hand with the ending, but the tone of a films have that ‘oh no’ moment, very few are outright bleak. Notable exceptions may include The Black Cauldron and , but even those films have a happy ending. is incredibly important. While almost all
It’s no surprise that has been dubbed the happiest place on Earth when all of its films are so darn cheery. This escapist atmosphere that creates a land where justice is handed it to those who deserve it and anybody can become a is undoubtedly a big factor behind the company’s lasting success.
The Narrative Structure
Again, this one goes hand in hand with the other two. It took a while, but throughout the 80s and 90s and especially since The has had a pretty consistent narrative structure that can be seen across most and live action movies;
Meet the hero (usually a fish out of water) -> hero expresses discontent with current situation (usually through song) -> hero meets a mentor figure or deuteragonist -> hero begins to succeed and often finds love -> villain momentarily prospers -> villain loses, hero lives happily ever after.
Let’s look at The Hunchback of Notre Dame as an example:
Prologue and meet Quasimodo establishing his and Frollo’s -> Quasi sings ‘Out There’ and sneaks into the festival of fools -> he meets Esmerelda and begins to understand the world better and falls in love with her -> Frollo captures Esmerelda and leaves Quasi in chains -> Quasi escapes, saves Esmerelda and Frollo falls to his death. While Esmerelda doesn’t reciprocate his feelings, he is accepted by society and is no longer an outcast.
Obviously, this isn’t a 100% accurate science, but it’s surprising how many films tend to follow this pattern! Even a like The mostly follows this; it’s wild!
You can argue that films like 6 or Zootopia might not fit in so well with the other criteria, there’s no denying that what makes a is the message behind it.
From the beginning, Walt movies were there to make people feel good while also learning important life lessons. The Lion King taught us to forgive ourselves and move on, showed us that life can be tough, Hercules taught us what real selflessness means and the list goes on. Love it or hate it, even the of Beauty and the Beast
The reason that every grows up watching isn’t just because they don’t contain cursing, sexual content, or violence (ok, that certainly does help though). The real reason is the good morals that they teach us and the values that they instill. Why else would these characters appear in each so prevalently? It’s because they’re timeless and actively beneficial for kids to see and learn from.
That, for us at least, is what truly makes a a . It’s the that turns and folklore into life lessons. Long may that continue.
The only and that this doesn’t really apply to is , though you could argue The Sorcerer’s Apprentice teaches something about tough love, but that’s a discussion for another day!
And don’t get us started on Pixar!
What criteria makes a Disney film to you? Let us know in the comments!