Tuesday 12 April 2011

Are We in The Third Golden Age?

Disney. The word that embodies animation. When you think animation you think Disney and vice versa. Yet, Disney hardly has the best track record when it comes to animated films, sure when you think of Disney animated films, you'll think of the classics; The Lion King, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Jungle Book, Dumbo, Beauty and the Beast etc..., but since the end of the second Golden Age (or Renaissance) Disney has been a bit down in the dumps. Particularly in the majority of the 2000s we've had a lot of flunks (in terms of critical consensus and box office revenue), with Chicken Little, Brother Bear, Home on the Range and Atlantis (among others) with some exceptions i.e. Lilo and Stitch.

Through all of the turbulence, there's been so much speculation about when - if ever - the third Golden Age of Disney will begin.

The first Golden Age being the one that ran from Disney's first feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs supposedly through to 1949's The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad and the second (also known as the Disney Renaissance) running from The Little Mermaid through to 2000's Tarzan.

In the past few years Disney animation has been stagnant, as it has been living in a massive shadow, of the company that has, arguably, always been in its Golden Age, Pixar. Pixar have been outshining Disney at every point in the last ten years or so, however since the 2006 Disney/Pixar merger and Pixar's John Lasseter being named creative head of both studios, Disney has been rejuvenated, leading many to believe that we may indeed be in the third Golden Age of Disney.

Since 2008's Bolt - the first Disney film fully overseen by John Lasseter -, Disney has been like new. Bolt received substantial critical acclaim and turned a very nice profit as well, whilst this could have been a fluke - remember Lilo and Stitch made quite a lot and was well received by critics and audiences alike, yet was wedged in a sea of failure - Bolt's follow up gave some evidence that perhaps we are in the desired third Golden Age.

The Princess and the Frog, Disney's return to the hand-drawn musical was also a critical hit. While it didn't smash box offices as hoped (due to its mainly female target audience), it wasn't particularly a flop either, turning over well over $250,000,000. While not quite as successful as Bolt, it was a sign that Disney was heading in the right direction for a return to the Golden Age.

If you follow the blog regularly then you'll know my thoughts about Tangled. Tangled was a fantastic film and a great return to the magical Disney of old, while also embracing the new. Critics and audiences alike obviously shared my view, as the film did very well both critically and in terms of box office and seemed to continue the run of really good films from Disney, started by Bolt.

However, is this the third Golden Age? As of right now, I'm inclined to say no. Sure, these films are all great and I loved Tangled, but have we really had a standout film yet, have we had the film to define an era? Like The Lion King back in 1994? Obviously I can't really judge yet and Disney's next film, the classically drawn Winnie the Pooh might prove me wrong (although the 83% it currently holds on Rotten Tomatoes suggests it may not be the defining film either), but I'm more inclined to say we're in the second Silver Age.

The Silver Age is, I think, the run of films from Cinderella to The Jungle Book, they were all great films, but not a Golden Age. Disney's next batch of films, Reboot Ralph and King of The Elves, may transform this into a Golden Age. But as of right now, in response to the question at the top of this post, I think... no.

Not yet at least.

But here's hoping...

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