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  1. #1

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    What happened to the animated soundtrack???

    Ugh- I deleted this the first time I typed it, so lets try again.

    I was thinking about this while watching Aladdin last night, and actually have thought about it often. I wondered if anyone would agree with me or had any thoughts of their own about it.

    The Walt Disney Company's animation division had its' renaissance when Roy Jr. took the helm in the late 80's and gave us 'The Little Mermaid'. Once that film was released, we were treated to a sucession of visually dazzling, entertaining, and al in all, stunning films that did not dissapoint. We learned what to expect from them because we knew what they were capable.

    Welcome to the late nineties, the dawn of the new millenium. We are very dissapointed people. The last film of any merit to come from the animation division was 'Tarzan' (oh, and maybe 'Lilo and Stitch') and we no longer expect excellence from a Disney animated film.

    Why is this? When did the shift occur?

    I believe the mediocrity of recent animated offerings comes from the death of the animated soundtrack. This applies only to 2-d since Pixar has proven that an excellent story will drive a film no matter what. But all the great 2-d films of recent memory had great, plot driven songs and soundtracks. Many of these soundtracks were so fine that they transfer very neatly into broadway musicals. These worldclass scores are what I think set apart disney films from all others.

    So IMHO, bring back the soundtrack and the 2-d feature might stand a chance.
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  2. #2

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    Here are two words that sounded the death-knell of Disney soundtracks -

    "Phil Collins"

    but seriously, I don't think it's the relevant weakness of any movies' soundtrack so much as it's the fact that all movies after Little Mermaid followed the same song formula - A scene setter, an "I want.." song, a comedy song, a villain song and a love song. Now I know there's not much else to do, but by the time Hercules starts belting out "Go The Distance" we know what's coming so the songs have to be twice as good to overcome familiarity.

    Just my 2 cents and a very interesting discussion topic...


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  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by dramaqueen
    The Walt Disney Company's animation division had its' renaissance when Roy Jr. took the helm in the late 80's and gave us 'The Little Mermaid'. Once that film was released, we were treated to a sucession of visually dazzling, entertaining, and al in all, stunning films that did not dissapoint. We learned what to expect from them because we knew what they were capable.

    I believe the mediocrity of recent animated offerings comes from the death of the animated soundtrack. This applies only to 2-d since Pixar has proven that an excellent story will drive a film no matter what. But all the great 2-d films of recent memory had great, plot driven songs and soundtracks. Many of these soundtracks were so fine that they transfer very neatly into broadway musicals. These worldclass scores are what I think set apart disney films from all others.

    So IMHO, bring back the soundtrack and the 2-d feature might stand a chance.

    Good thread, DQ! I totally agree that Roy Jr. and the new generation of animators breathed life into the division that did indeed bring on the Disney renaissence and a string of hit films. But they painted themselves into a corner, the audience grew indifferent and box office returns plummeted.

    I believe it can be summed up in just one word...FORMULA (a customary or set form or method allowing little room for originality).

    Each time Disney has tried being adventurous or darker with its animated features, the audience stays away in droves. Fantasia and The Black Cauldron are at the top of the list with the latter being a non-musical and was the one that almost caused the collapse of the animation division. That was when Roy Jr. stood up for it and personally took charge.

    There also aren't a lot of great composer/lyricist teams around. Broadway is littered with hundreds of flops and forgotten shows over the decades. A good score can most certainly spruce up a film but I think it all comes down to storytelling. As much as I love hand-drawn animation and the superb library of Disney films, I am thinking that perhaps it is time to step back for a while and rethink the whole thing.

    It might be a few years down the road but I believe there will be another new era of some kind in Disney animation. Whether it is in 2D or 3D CGI, who knows. There are just too many creative people in the Disney Company to allow it to languish for too long.

  4. #4

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    The Incredibles had a fantastic soundtrack. I for one am tired of the Broadway style Disney movies where 3/4 of the plot is forwarded by song. God forbid these characters actually talk!

    That's why I liked the feel of The Incredibles, Atlantis (yes, I liked it), and even Lilo & Stitch (even though they over-Elvisized that one). And yes, I loved both Fantasias. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind songs. I don't mind characters singing. But not all soundtracks have to revolve around songs. Star Wars, Indiana Jones, for examples, have no songs, but their soundtracks played a major role in the film, and the music is part of modern culture. Who can hear the imperial march and not know what it's from? Anyone? To the same degree, the most widely touted as the best Star Trek films - Star Trek II - was penned by a different composer than all the rest - a relatively unknown at the time James Horner. I don't think it's a cooincidence that his superior score was in the best film of them all. Not that even his music could have done anything for stinkburgers like The Final Frontier ot Insurrection, but you see what I'm saying.

    Maybe the score driven film is just a bit too mature for younger audiences, I don't know. I never really liked the OD of singing of Disney films, though, so maybe I'm just the wrong person to be offering an opinion...
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  5. #5

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    Disney and songs go hand in hand. From day one music was an integral part of the studio's films. The history of the company can easily be told through its songs. From Steamboat Willie, The Three Little Pigs, The Silly Symphonies and on music has always been a large factor of the studios success. To deny that history and move away from it is to fundamentally change the studio.

    I don't think the recent lackluster performance of Disney animated features is entirely due to the limp soundtracks but they certainly play a large part. Remember when Mermaid and Beast first came out and all the talk in the media that Disney was making better broadway than Bradway? Where has all that talk and praise gone? Aladdin seemed to ride on the coattails of the previous two films in this regard, but come Lion King no one was claiming the songs were topping Broadway.

    A lot of this is due to the tragic death of Howard Ashman, but also the musical focus seemes to have changed in this time. Mermaid and Beast were obviously made with large Broadway influences. The song structures, and lyrical stylings are straight out of the Broadway mold. Starting with Aladdin there was much less intent (if any at all) to ape Broadway. I'm not saying these soundtracks were bad, just that they had completely different intentions. Even though I enjoy many of these souondtracks, I do believe that Mermaid and Beast are the cream of the crop becuae they not only are beautiful to listen they evoke the past while reacing into the future. They have a feel bold, daring and inventive. They take risks. Who would have thought that family audiences would accept a song like "Belle" in an animiated film?

    The thing about taking risks though is that you might not alwyas connect with your audience. Like with Hunchback which had a much more complex and daring songs than any previous Disney animated film. Yet many people didn't care for the direction those songs went. They may not be as powerful or humable as other Disney songs, but you have to admire the risks they were taking.

    If the passion is there to make a truly great soundtrack then most likely the passion is there to create a great stroy with memorable characters wwe care for. It's when the filmmaking becomes routine and mechanical that the lisfe is drained out.
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  6. #6

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    I think a huge part of the success of Mermaid and Beast was due to the fact that they were both based on a story that the majority of people were already familiar with. The stories were safe (granted they Disney-fied them and made them more family apporpriate). If Disney were to take The Princess and the Pea, or ANY of the great 'forgotten' fairy tales and put them to music they would make money. Simply because it is a story people know, and they will look forward to see Disney's take on it.

    I do agree that the soundtrack is important, and not necissarily the singing. I could recognize the fairy's theme from Sleeping Beauty in a heartbeat, the opening violin in The Emperor's New Groove, as well as the Imperial march or the Indie theme. Great music just sticks with you.

    I also miss the characters singing. Those songs can stick with me just as much. I don't know how many times I've been stuck cleaning tables with a wet rag a work, humming "oh sing sweet nightengale" or walked to class humming "I wonder."

    Although I'm a big musical buff too, so I guess maybe that has something to do with it. But I think the decline in quiality/popularity has to do with everything. Animation can't work without a good story, and good music (even if it is just the score)....and, well, good animation...



  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by quasimodo1384
    If Disney were to take The Princess and the Pea, or ANY of the great 'forgotten' fairy tales and put them to music they would make money. Simply because it is a story people know, and they will look forward to see Disney's take on it.
    I tend to agree with you on this point. Disney excells at adapting fairy tales and fairy tale like stories. Fairy tales incorporate universal themes and audiences are familiar with the stories. Plus no other studio even attempts to do these stories these days. The feild is wide open for Disney to make a killing. The key points would be a passion for the project, an open, trusting and accepting corporate environment and a talented crew.
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  8. #8

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    So what fairy tales are left for Disney to do? I also agree that these are the films Disney has made its' name doing. What fairy tales would you like to see adapted by Disney?
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  9. #9

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    In all fairness, most if not all Disney movies are at least loosely based on a well known story. Lilo and Stitch itself is a revision of the ugly duckling.

    I agree though that there needs to be more origional songs... classic disney songs. None of this "Hi Im a Disney Channel celebrity... I'm here to ruin your favorite songs." crap. Get some origional music going, restart the animation dept, and get some decent writers in there!
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  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by dramaqueen
    So what fairy tales are left for Disney to do? I also agree that these are the films Disney has made its' name doing. What fairy tales would you like to see adapted by Disney?
    First I would love to see more work done with Brother's Grimm, Aesop's Fables and Mother Goose. Some have had a Disney polish but a lot of the material has not!

    Second bring on the Mythology and folklore: Celtic, Norse, Native American, African, Germanic, Indian, Asian, etc

    Lastly I would love to see animated version of some of the best stories from authors from the 1800's. I know we have seen live action version and even a few animated that represent the work of those authors but I would love to see more Disney spins on many of the great authors like Jules Verne, HG Wells, Robert Louis Stevenson, Rubert Kipling, Jack London and of course Mark Twain.







  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by dramaqueen
    So what fairy tales are left for Disney to do? I also agree that these are the films Disney has made its' name doing. What fairy tales would you like to see adapted by Disney?
    As someone said before, Princess and the Pea (even though I HATE that story), Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, Thumbelina, Rumplestiltsken, even Little Red Riding Hood.

    I, for one, would LOVE to see some true fairy tales come back to Disney, how long has it been? Beautiful scenery, clothing, music, singing, girl gets boy after overcoming evil~ that is what Disney used to be about and what the little girl in me would like to see again.
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  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by dramaqueen
    So what fairy tales are left for Disney to do? I also agree that these are the films Disney has made its' name doing. What fairy tales would you like to see adapted by Disney?
    The Bible is chock full of wonderful stories. Interesting characters, hardships, perseverance, self doubt, faith, guidance, and a lesson to boot! Dreamworks' Prince of Egypt is brilliant! Risky business for Disney in this PC world, but can you honestly imagine what this world would be like without any Biblical references?

    The film "Sister Act" was a marvelous integration of modern music with a message. I get goosebumps when I think of the concert in the films finale.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by TinkPink
    As someone said before, Princess and the Pea (even though I HATE that story), Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, Thumbelina, Rumplestiltsken, even Little Red Riding Hood.

    I, for one, would LOVE to see some true fairy tales come back to Disney, how long has it been? Beautiful scenery, clothing, music, singing, girl gets boy after overcoming evil~ that is what Disney used to be about and what the little girl in me would like to see again.
    Ah, but that's not the point of those children's stories. Take the majority of fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm. These aren't pleasant little stories to make children happy, they were harsh warnings used to frighten children into behaving.
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