Why would a university student care about Disney movies right? I mean Disney belongs to your boxed up childhood, doesn’t it? Truth is, adulthood can be exhausting and once in a while, in those moments when you desperately yearn for the simple joys of childhood, go turn off your phone, grab your old DVDs and be prepared to be engulfed by a world of colourful music, powerful stories and loveable characters. Bonus points if you grab your siblings to come singalong!
Now keep in mind, all Disney movies are treasures in their own right, but obviously I had to narrow it down, so my preferences are subjective based on how closely I associate it with my childhood and how my sisters and I bonded over them. That being said, if you haven’t watched some of these animated classics, then you’ve definitely missed out and need to schedule a movie night asap. (Oh! A disclaimer, I haven’t really included any of the recent movies, this is about nostalgia after-all)
- The Lion King
Could you really expect me to put this movie anywhere else but first? Loosely based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Lion King is heartwarming and perfect if you just need to set your worries aside (Hakuna Matata after all, am I right?) Everything about this movie, from the fluid animations, to the characters that pop off the screen, is guaranteed to leave you feeling wholesome and in a sense, connected to the world around you.
- The Emperors’ New Groove
Trust me when I say this movie is HIGHLY underrated. Even if you haven’t watched this as a kid, you’ll definitely enjoy it as an adult! The story follows the self-centered and narcissistic emperor Kuzco who is turned into a llama. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but trust me when I say it’s pure comedy gold! The movie not only breaks the fourth wall, but also features a great deal of meta-humour and honestly, if you don’t laugh at least once during this one, well then, I’m afraid you’ve got no sense of humour.
I reserve my comments on the 2020 remake, but the original animated version is a true gem. I still remember how traumatized and amazed I used to be as I sat with my eyes glued to the screen while Mulan fought off the Huns in Imperial China. Not to mention, the sarcastic humour provided by Mushu adds a perfect comedic touch to a movie that would’ve otherwise been quite serious. Also did you know that Mulan is the only Disney princess who is neither born nor married into royal blood?
- Lilo and Stitch
This Disney classic doesn’t really have many songs you can sing-along to, but what it does have, is a very accurate telling of a sibling relationship. I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve acted out scenes from this movie (both intentionally and unintentionally!) You definitely need to get your siblings down for this one.
- Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid and Aladdin
Yes, I know that’s three movies in one, but Disney was at its best during the Renaissance era, and there’s definitely a lot of nostalgia surrounding these classics. Despite being simple fairytale adaptations, all three of these movies won academy awards for best original score and best original song for Beauty and the Beast, Under the Sea and A Whole New World.
I feel like Pocahontas is also another movie that hasn’t been watched as much as it should’ve been. Although it isn’t strictly accurate historically, it is the first ever Disney movie to be inspired by real life people and events. As such, it is arguably more serious and as one of my friends said, rather depressing. It’s probably the first Disney movie where the heroine doesn’t end up with her love interest and; surprise, surprise, the animals don’t speak!
The soundtrack alone should be motivation enough to watch this one!
In an alternate Disney universe, I’d be Rapunzel from Tangled. At least that’s according to my sisters who claim that I’m, “gullible, naïve, ditzy and a bit vague” (I beg to differ!). Either way, what are you doing with yourself if you haven’t watched Tangled?! It’s absolutely guaranteed to make you laugh with its slapstick and sarcastic humour. Also, the fact that Rapunzel is being held captive by an overprotective mother is something that might be quite relatable to some of us.
- Princess and the Frog
Yet another movie that I think is underrated, mostly because its success was overshadowed by the movies that followed. Princess and the Frog truly did revive Disney with its clever animations and catchy tunes. What I particularly enjoy is that Tiana is an ordinary young woman with an ordinary dream. She is the only Disney princess with an actual job that makes money. It’s an interesting twist on a classic tale. Oh, and did you know, this is Disney’s first fairytale since Aladdin in 1992!
- Frozen 1 & 2
Yes, I know, it’s another movie about sisters. Who can blame me though, Frozen was epic, and I’m not just talking about the storyline, have you seen the animations?! It truly is some of Disney’s finest work. True, the Frozen movies didn’t strictly belong to our childhood, but I think what’s interesting is that both the movies show a significant shift in the classic Disney formula. Gone are the days where the females were portrayed as damsels in distress and love was typically portrayed as between a man and a woman who fall in love within the span of a single day. Frozen and its sequel discuss several thought-provoking themes for adults and present a more mature and progressive version of Walt Disney Studios.
And there you have it. Your list of Disney classics to bring back the nostalgia. So next time you feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities of adulthood, just take a step back and revisit some of these classics!
– Rtr. Tharini Ratwatte
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