All You Need is….Magic!

10 Nov

“When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are, anything your heart desires will come to you.” Ever since I heard that song in Pinocchio (1940) as a little girl that line has stuck in my mind.  I would be lying if I said that Disney has not had a huge effect on me growing up and even now.  I truly believe that Disney has an effect on many generations of people. Why do you think Disney movies are constantly being made and the Disney Parks have hundreds of visitors every day?

There are common themes in most of the Walt Disney Movies that are projected to young children and even adults. No matter what decade you watch a Disney movie in; the same themes appear and will touch the audience.

 The most common and basic themes are; love, family, friendship and never giving up on your dreams. I dare you to find one movie that does not hold these themes. But seriously, it is impossible to find.

“So this is love” (Cinderella)

Love is probably the most obvious theme in all of the Disney movies. Honestly, love is probably the most commontheme of any type of movie.  The classic Disney movies had beautiful girls finding their Prince Charmings even after going through some hardships. Love in Disney movies has evolved during the years to not only be between a man and a woman but between family, friends and even people and their pets and people and their toys.

An example of a more recent Disney movie that shows love that is not between a girl and a boy is Toy Story 3 (2010). Now, I cried like a baby at the end of that movie. I do not care who you are, you know that you had to tear up when Andy played with Woody his other toys that last time before going to college. It was incredibly sweet. Andy’s love for his toys started with Toy Story (1995) and we got to watch him grow up and what that meant to his favorite toys.  So instead of the classic Disney tale of a Princess and her Prince Charming, we were able to see into the life of toys. Toy Story 3 made me not want to leave any of my childhood toys at home when I went to college, I did not want to hurt their feelings.

Disney has taught us that love is something special that people (or objects) can share. Kids and adults alike are taught how special and amazing love can truly be. Disney relates love to magic which makes love seem even more extraordinary. Everyone can love, so everyone can have a piece of magic. It brings the amazing fairytale stories to life. Anyone can be a Princess and find their Prince Charming; all you have to do is believe in the magic of love.   

“No matter what they say, you make me proud” (Maurice to Belle in the Broadway musical Beauty and the Beast)

Just as love has been a major theme in Disney movies, family has always been shown as a special bond to have. I believe this is one of the most important lessons that Disney tries to teach us.

For example, a father-daughter relationship has always been seen as very special. They were shown clearly between Ariel and King Triton in The Little Mermaid (1989), between Belle and Maurice in Beauty and the Beast (1991) and between Jasmine and her father, The Sultan of Agrabah, in Aladdin (1992). All of these fathers loved their daughters very much and would do anything for them. The daughters also loved their father’s very much and were grateful for them.

My personal favorite ending between a father and daughter in a Disney movie is when Ariel hugs King Triton when she is marrying Prince Eric. They share a really sweet moment after King Triton makes the sacrifice of turning Ariel human so that she will be happy with Eric, whom she loves. Ariel’s appreciation for her father’s love is shown and everyone lives happily ever after.

The love of family even appears in Disney movies where animals are the stars, not humans. Back in 1994 The Lion King showed the love of family in a family of lions. And then more recently, in Finding Nemo (2003) family is the main theme and plot of the movie, but it is between fish. The whole movie is about the father, Marlin, chasing after his son, Nemo, and trying to find him and rescue him. This movie shows the true love of a father’s devotion for his child and that he will stop at nothing to keep him safe.  It shows Marlin’s acceptance to let Nemo grow up, but yet we all know that Marlin will always be there for Nemo.

This tells children that their parents would go (or in Marlin’s case, swim) to the end of the Earth and back for them without any regrets. Something that you may be thinking right now is, ‘Why is it that there is always a deceased parent in Disney movies?’ And yes, you are right. In the majority of Disney movies one parent is either deceased or out of the picture.

I do not know the exact reason why that this is, but I can give you my point of view on the situation. I believe that Disney is showing that a family is a family, no matter how many parents you have. Even if one has passed away, it does not mean it is less of a family. If children who only had one parent were seeing Disney movies all the time with a Mother and a Father always present, they may believe that they do not have a good enough family. Also, like in Tarzan (1999), even if you do not live with your birth parents, you still can have mother and father figures that are still family. No matter what your family situation is, everyone has a family.

I know this helped me after my Mother passed away three years ago. So now when I watch Disney movies I am not saddened by seeing my favorite Disney characters not only having perfect hair and love lives, but having a perfect family too. Even my favorite Disney character, Ariel, is missing her Mother and she still has a ‘happily ever after.’

“You’ve got a friend in me” (Toy Story)

Once again, friendship can be seen in every single Disney movie. The protagonist in every movie has to have a best friend. No matter if it is a parent, sibling, animal, toy or another person it is still a friendship. Disney shows that not only can you love anyone and can have any kind of family, but you can have any kind of friend. Snow White in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) had animals and 7 dwarfs as her friends, Cinderella in Cinderella (1950) had animals as friends,  Lightning McQueen in Cars (2006) had other cars as his friends and Carl Fredricksen (the old man) in Up! (2009) had a friendship with Russell (the little boy) and Dug (the dog) by the end of the movie.

Even the song “It\’s A Small World” that is played in the famous ride in Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort is about friendship. It tells us that even though everyone may live in different places, speak different languages and dress differently, it does not mean that everyone cannot be friends. “There is just one moon and one golden sun and a smile means friendship to everyone. Though the mountains divide and the oceans are wide, it’s a small small world.”

I remember playing with my friends as a child and we would all take different Disney characters. Of course I was always Ariel. Disney movies helped show us that anyone can be friends and it allowed for a lot of recess amusement. It was only till we got older that people became picky and judgmental about friends. Watching Disney movies brings me back to the childhood innocence of being friends with everyone.  I miss those days!

“I won’t look back, I can go the distance. And I’ll stay on track, no I won’t accept defeat” (Hercules)

Following your dreams has always been an important value for Disney, just because it was extremely important to Walt Disney.

Walt Disney once said, “Somehow I can’t believe there are any heights that can’t be scaled by a man who knows the secret of making dreams come true. When you believe a thing, believe it all the way, implicitly and unquestionably.” Here is a link to a website all about Walt Disney if you would like to learn more of all the amazing things he has done and more about Disney.

Even after his death, his legacy lives on as they keep all of his ideas present in all of the new projects and throughout the Disney Parks. Every Disney character faces some conflict and it usually is an obstacle getting in the way of them pursuing their dreams.  No matter what the conflict is, their dream is always realized.

Disney teaches us that no matter what life throws at you, if you truly believe in yourself you can accomplish anything. They even had a firework show at Walt Disney World called “Wishes” that told the story of character’s wishes and how their dreams came true because they believed in them with all their heart. Just listen to your conscience; Jiminy Cricket!

Disney characters have been through very difficult hardships. Sleeping Beauty was put to sleep while her Prince fought a dragon, Quasimodo was trapped in Notre-Dame, Snow White was running away from being killed by the Queen and Sully and Mike where running away trying to save Boo and themselves from being captured by  the Monster Inc Company.

Even though these conflicts would never happen to real life people, viewers of all ages can connect to any of these characters and situations.  Children see that they can do anything no matter what and older viewers and parents are reminded the same thing when they watch.

There are so many songs that are written that are about pursuing your dreams and never giving up. Some of my favorites include “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid, “Just Around the Riverbend” from Pocahontas, “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” from Cinderella, “The Second Star to the Right” from Peter Pan, and of course “When You Wish Upon a Star” from Pinocchio.

“Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, Zip-A-Dee-Day My Oh My, What A Wonderful Day!”

Disney has defiantly created a culture for people who have grown up watching their movies. They know that people love their movies and their values and they use that towards their advantage. They use Synergy through all their different media channels they have which helps continue to promote them. That way they are in complete control on how they are advertised and how the public continues to see them.  

I do not believe at all that they exploit anything or give false view of reality. As I said before in my “Leave the Mouse Alone!” blog, Disney helps us escape reality and helps keep our wishes alive. Disney does not want us to feel like nothing can live up to their expectations, but to believe in our wishes and we can all live our own magical moments. Also, as a child I would not want to watch a movie about the ‘real-world,’ that would be too scary.  

Also, I think Disney adds in subliminal messages in their movies. Since their main audiences of their movies are children, they cannot add in any huge travesty because they may scare the children. They use magical characters, songs and comedy to cover up some negative situations in Disney movies. As a child I did not understand these at all but as I got older I was able to see more into the movies. This new knowledge did not make me sad or upset at the movies, it helped me appreciate the movies in a more mature light.

For example, in The Little Mermaid, Ariel’s voice being taken away, and her capture by Ursula (who is really her Aunt) sheds a new light on the movie. It shows that no one should ever silence you no matter what they say they will give you, and to be careful about whom you trust. Now I see more into the movie than just a mermaid who falls in love, and now I love the movie even more. I challenge you to go out and find a deeper meaning in the Disney movies! They are there; you just have to pay close attention.   

Disney has a huge effect on anyone of any age. Disney reminds people to love. Disney reminds people that they always have a family. Disney reminds people that they can have anyone as a friend. Disney reminds people to never give up on their dreams. Disney keeps the magic alive in people’s hearts. No matter how old anyone gets and how stressed out they get with life, Disney is there to take you back to your childhood where magic is real, because with Disney, magic is real.


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