Disney’s Loss of Innocence: language, race and gender in children’s animated movies

1024px-Disney_Orlando_castle_at_night

Disney Orlando castle at night. By Veryhuman (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Most of my peers grew up with Disney animated movies. They watched the classics — The Lion KingPocahontasBeauty and the Beast… I didn’t. To this day, I’ve seen a grand total of two Disney animations: Dumbo and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.

Yes, yes, I know. I haven’t seen The Lion King, or Bambi, which is sometimes marked out as an oddity if it comes up in conversations with friends, as though I’m confessing an eccentric habit.

Disney’s movies are a fond presence in millions of childhoods throughout the world, and beyond (last year, a friend asked me if I wanted to go and see Cinderella with her. I suggested Far from the Madding Crowd instead). But these movies aren’t as child-friendly and full of innocent wonder as they seem. In fact, they have some symbolism in them that is pretty downright disturbing.

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The Love Punch

A couple of weeks ago, I went to see the recently released movie The Love Punch. I love movies like this: British slapstick humour, a stellar cast and a silly but highly entertaining plot.

Kate, played by Emma Thompson, and Richard (Pierce Brosnan) are an amicably divorced couple in their fifties. One morning, Richard arrives at his investment company in London and discovers that it has been defrauded by a French corporate giant, Vincent Kruger, thus, destroying the pension funds of Richard, Kate and the employees of the company. In order to recoup the money, they team up and go to France with the idea of stealing a $10 million diamond that Kruger has just bought for his bride-to-be to wear to their upcoming nuptials. And then they get into all kinds of trouble…

A U.S. release date is still to be announced but according to Movie Box, it will be later this year.

To Rome With Love – movie review


To Rome With Love trailer linked from YouTube. No copyright infringement intended.

To Rome With Love (2012), directed by Woody Allen and starring Woody Allen, Ellen Page, Jesse Eisenberg and Alec Baldwin, is a romantic comedy which is filmed and set in Rome. But you probably guessed that from merely reading the title. So, what makes it different from all those other rom-coms out there? Instead of focusing on just two characters like many rom-coms do, this movie involves the viewer in the lives of various people. Some are American tourists and others are Italians, resident in Rome. This means that there is plenty to keep the viewer engaged as we flit from one set of characters to another and then to another. There are plenty of amusing scenes, misunderstandings and humorous predicaments, including a farcical storyline which satirically pokes fun at the nature of fame. It’s not an outstanding movie but it is very funny and has a touch of that Woody Allen uniqueness that makes the film really worth watching.

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This weekend I look forward to watching Cheerful Weather for the Wedding (2012), based on the novel by Julia Strachey, which was published in 1932.


Cheerful Weather for the Wedding trailer linked from YouTube. No copyright infringement intended.

I enjoy costume dramas because they give the viewer a window into another world, one that is so different to our modern lives and yet so similar. Etiquette, manners, social conventions and fashions are far removed from the way we live today but at the core of it, the events and occurrences of human lives remain the same.

Do you enjoy historical dramas? What movies will you be watching this weekend? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

News for fans of The Hunger Games

There’s a lot of excitement going on in the world of Hunger Games fans (of which I am one) at the moment. The first full-length trailer for Catching Fire was released yesterday at the MTV Movie Awards! I don’t know about you but if you’re a fan, I’m sure this trailer has more than whetted your appetite for the movie. Let me know your thoughts on the trailer by leaving a comment below.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire release date – November 22, 2013 (I am so impatient!)

Anna Karenina: a forgettable and tedious adaptation

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way” – the opening sentence of Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Anna Karenina is a stunning classic of Russian literature. However, this latest adaptation of the novel fails to portray the sweeping, epic grandeur and the passionate emotion of the novel. As a fan of Russian literature and costume dramas, I wanted to like it but it was tedious and forgettable, to say the least. Starring Keira Knightley as a pouting Anna and directed by Joe Wright (who has directed Keira Knightley in two previous films – Pride and Prejudice in 2005 and Atonement in 2008), the filmmakers made an interesting choice to set this adaptation of Tolstoy’s novel in a theater.

It is an innovative way of filming a movie and there are certain scenes in which the choreography is very powerful, for example, a scene during a grand ball. When Anna and Count Vronsky are dancing together, the other couples on the dance floor freeze into stillness, motionless in the intricate positions of their dance. This creates a striking effect, with the focus immediately drawn to Anna and Vronsky.

However, Keira Knightley’s performance as Anna trips over its Russian full-skirted dress and falls flat. This is the third Joe Wright film in which she is the star actress and in the previous two, she was very good. Atonement, an adaptation of the novel by Ian McEwan, stands out as one of Knightley’s best performances (arguably, the best) to date. But in this, she lacks genuine emotion, other than a kind of hysterical infatuation for Vronsky. We are meant to truly believe that Anna and Vronsky give up everything to be together and have an all-consuming love but that really doesn’t come across and the film takes away the complexity of Tolstoy’s great work of literature.

The opulent costumes are spectacular and the theatrical sets in the movie are exquisite in their detail. But all that beauty left me feeling a little cold. It is the human stories which interest me and we need to see them portrayed in all their rawness and realism. In many scenes the theatrical device feels gimmicky and contrived, setting the audience apart from the action. For me, it dehumanized the characters and failed to draw me fully into the story. When a film fails to make you care about what happens to its characters, it is not to be recommended.

Movie review: “Rust and Bone”

In Rust and Bone, Oscar-winning actress Marion Cotillard executes a delicately nuanced performance as Stephanie, a skilled trainer of orca whales who loses her legs in a freak accident during one of her shows with the aforementioned cetaceans. Interwoven with this event is the story of single father Alain (played by Matthias Schoenaerts), who lives with his sister and works as a bouncer at a club. Both characters have problems and undergo adversity. But they grow together in a no-nonsense friendship which gives each of them different perspectives.

The beautiful, award-winning score by Alexandre Desplat adds intensity and, like much of modern French cinema, Rust and Bone does not shy away from presenting scenes with grit and realism. Alain is blunt and sometimes appears uncaring and the relationships between the characters are presented with unsparing plausibility. It is not a sentimental film and yet it culminates in a quietly moving scene.