Monday, June 9, 2008

The Meeting

Joe’s heart pounded in his chest. She had finally arrived! This was his opportunity – to have his first conversation with her; to get to know her; perhaps even let her know his true feelings! Now all he needed to do was instigate. With much trepidation, he decided to take the plunge.

“hi” he typed, and began to pray. If only she would say something back – no matter what she said, it would be a dream to him; it would make his day; he would treasure the words forever.

“hi” Grace replied. Try as he might, Joe couldn’t work out exactly what she meant by the word – was it a simple greeting, or was it something much, much more? He decided to risk talking to her a little longer.

“how r u?” Joe asked, immediately kicking himself for his stupidity. He could just picture her telling all her friends at school the next day about that idiot Joe who couldn’t think of anything better to say than “How are you”.

“gd u?” Joe’s emotions soared to higher heights than he had ever known. Not only was she in his presence, she wasn’t unhappy as a result of it! And what’s more, she was interested in his feelings! Joe doubted he had ever known such ecstasy as he carefully contemplated his next words.

“yeh im gd” he replied, before adding “wots bin hapnin?”
Her reply took only a minute, but it felt like an eternity as Joe sat with his fingers drumming the table in front of him.

“nt much u?”

Joe had a dilemma. Should he tell her what he was actually up to – sitting at his computer, hoping and praying that she would talk to him? Or should he play hard to get, making her press him for information? He decided to take a more light-hearted approach.

“jst skool lol” he typed, knowing that it would be a good ice-breaker. Joe knew that anything would pass as deep and meaningful unless you laughed out loud after stating it.

“lol” came her reply. Joe almost leapt out of his seat. She was laughing too! They were laughing together! They were having a shared experience that they would remember and reminisce on forevermore! Steepling his fingers under his chin, he contemplated his next move – but before he could type anything more, Grace took the initiative.

“brb” she wrote. This encouraged Joe. Surely she was off to ring her friends – to tell them about this boy from school that she was talking to for the first time – this wonderful, hilarious, charming boy that she’d never even noticed until this afternoon. Surely she was asking their advice about how to show him she was interested! Joe decided he’d better acknowledge that it was ok for her to do this – that he would wait for her, no matter how long she would be.

“k” he typed, knowing that upon her return, she would be thrilled to find this message written solely for her – to know that he was rapt by her attention.

Three minutes passed, and Grace returned.

“g2g bi” she wrote. Joe’s heart sank. They were just starting to get to know each other – surely she couldn’t despise him already? What had he done wrong? How had he messed up this perfect opportunity? In despair, he reached out to her. He had to let her know what she meant to him – he had just this one last chance to win her over.

“k bi” he wrote back, and immediately kicked himself again. Now he had completely blown it. There was no returning from this. Head in his hands, he let a tear roll down his cheek. There he sat for twelve minutes, before getting up and reaching for the power button.

It was then that he saw it. In the moments before signing off, Grace had left him one last message.

“c u l8r”

Joe smiled. He was in.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Anastasia and the prevalence of Disney

I re-watched Anastasia tonight. It’s probably the first time this millennium that I’ve watched this particular film, and it really strikes me as an interesting movie for a number of reasons, the most particular of which I’ll outline in this post.

Anastasia is one of only three traditionally animated films in my lifetime that’s made true blockbuster status that WASN’T made by Disney. (The other two are The Prince of Egypt and The Simpsons Movie) It’s formula is much the same as the traditional Disney princess movies, and that’s probably what made it successful. In fact, when I found out as a fourteen year old that it was made by Fox and not by Disney, I was taken aback – I (and I assume many other children at the time) just naturally assumed it was a Disney film.

Don Bluth (the director/producer of Anastasia) somehow managed to overcome the hurdle and create a film that could rival Disney in terms of quality and entertainment value. The question that I have though, is whether or not they’ll last the test of time, as Disney films have. He’s got quite a challenge in that regard.

Let me elaborate. Put your hand up if you’ve seen Snow White. That was the first full length animated movie, and it was made way back in 1947. Odds are you’ve seen Pinocchio, Bambi, Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty too – and all those movies (and many others) were made before 1960.

Why have you seen them? Because they’re Disney movies. Due to Disney’s continued presence in the movie industry, and the continued trust that parents place in Disney’s animated films, kids keep watching Disney movies. And because I was watching Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin when I was growing up, it meant that I would recognise the brand, and as a result I would want to watch the earlier movies by Disney too. It also means that Disney can keep re-releasing these classic films, and people will keep buying them. Is it because they’re classics, or because they’re Disney? Most people would say that the two are one in the same.

Back to Anastasia, or more specifically, Don Bluth. Anastasia wasn’t his only classic – he also made classics such as All Dogs Go to Heaven, Thumbelina and my personal favourite, The Land Before Time. Interestingly enough, one of his biggest successes came two years before I was born – An American Tail.

I haven’t seen An American Tail. I haven’t even seen it available on DVD. What was supposedly a classic animated film seems only recognisable by those who were kids when it was released. In the same way, kids these days haven’t seen The Land Before Time (unless they’ve seen one of the dodgy sequels), and I doubt they’ll see Anastasia. Not because they’re not good movies, but simply because they’re not recognisable.

I’m still processing my line of thinking here, and this blog has gone on long enough as it is, I feel. But one very, very interesting thought to leave you with – Don Bluth had his start in animation through Disney. So did The Prince of Egypt’s creator Jeffrey Katzenberg. The question I have for you is this – can animated films thrive WITHOUT Disney?