I’ve officially embarked on the (re)Discovering Disney project and am thoroughly enjoying myself– and learning a lot more about my icon– in the process. This post will be organized by the films I’ve watched so far. And The Lion King
has another post…out of order…because I saw it again. And again.
P.S. This post is super long because I might be making this project into a book. Brace yourselves, lads. (ha– Peter Pan reference: 10 points if you got it!)
I had the very best of intentions to watch
Snore Snow White on a Wednesday in September. But then the sun came out, and for the first time this fall (which in Alaska basically started September first), my husband and I were both off work at the same time. Part of our adjusting to post-graduate life and life in Alaska is both sharing a car and opposite schedules. In any case, we decided to take a drive up the Glenn Highway, east of Palmer, to take in the view.
Earlier in the day I had run a secret, hubby’s-birthday-related errand and had to take a road we’d never explored before. I chanced upon a live-here-to-know-about-it scenic drive that gave us breathtaking views of fall foliage. We saw one of the many glacier-fed streams winding through a forest of varying shades of yellow and orange, the white trunks of birch trees showing through gaps where leaves had been before the wind whisked them away. It looked like something out of a movie (but a sweet Halloween movie, like Hocus Pocus, and not anything scary. I don’t do scary). An adolescent moose, looking even more awkward than moose naturally look, scampered into the empty road and back into the orange and yellow forest. In any case, watching my least favorite Disney movie was bumped from the agenda.
As someone who loves Disney so much, people are often shocked to discover my dislike of Snow White. I don’t have anything against her, per se, it’s just that…well, every time I try to watch it I fall asleep. I mean that in the nicest way—if there is a nice way to say that the first animated feature film created under the leadership of my icon—Walt himself, of course—is a total snoozefest. But for my Disney project, I’m willing to give it one more shot.
You know that phrase, eat your words? Well, I’m at the table. I watched Snow White for the fourth time in my life and…didn’t hate it. Albeit I was cooking dinner during the beginning. And flipping through a book in the middle. But in my defense, I had watched through the middle last Christmas, when I received it as a gift (I fell asleep before the end that day). But this time, I stayed awake during the whole film. While the film itself still didn’t completely hold my attention, the bonus features did.
One would think, since bonus features got me into this mess, that I may avoid them in the future. One would think wrong. Clearly I never learn. I explored the extras on both discs and completed the task with a newfound respect for Snow White. Apparently the film was speculated to be the end of Disney—no one in the entertainment world could fathom why anyone would want to watch an hour and a half of cartoons, in Technicolor, at the theatre. The film was completed 2 weeks before the premiere. The animators hung advertisements on telephone poles because there wasn’t enough time to properly advertise it.
The huge success of Snow, supported by 9 whopping returns to the theatre (all smash hits) in the decades following the original release, was completely unexpected. Well, by everyone but Walt, I’m sure. I had no idea that not only was Snow an underdog, but that she sent shockwaves through the entertainment industry, changing it forever. MGM gave Wizard of Oz the go-ahead based on Disney’s animated feature success. It didn’t just symbolize the rise of animation—Disney cemented that Americans, coming out of the depression, no less—could become engrossed in a fantasy world but still actually care about the characters’ and their respective destinies.
My dislike of Snow White has officially ended. Knowing what I do about the history, I can relate to her a lot more. Her voice still kind of irks me (that high of a pitch irritates my ears, but only because my hearing is super sensitive. I often say I have hearing like a bat…because it’s true). I know what it’s like to be an underdog—try telling family and friends, all of whom live in Florida with you, that you want to move to Alaska. I’m pretty sure no one actually thought we’d go through with it. At least, not until we got on the plane.
I’d always thought Snow White was a weak character. She doesn’t do anything to defend herself when the huntsman is about to attack, just cowers and screams. Then, when she runs away, she has a little meltdown and starts seeing things. I get it, fear makes you crazy. But when she comes upon the dwarves, she is still too trusting (considering her step-mom just tried to have her whacked). Then she takes food from a stranger (nice lesson to add in, Walt. Well played) and croaks (temporarily). Why doesn’t she fight back? Or stand up for herself? She just didn’t seem like a strong role model.
As an adult, I see how she didn’t even falter when her royal life was wiped out from under her (even if she did start the film in rags and go flower-picking in a nice dress). She never cries or whines about her belongings or her old life. The only thing she misses is the Prince she met. She picks herself up, dusts herself (and the dwarves’ cottage) off and begins anew. That’s pretty admirable. I also have to remember that strong female characters weren’t exactly the norm in the culture of the 1930’s.
Walt himself is also pretty admirable. He hired 300 additional artists during the depression in order to complete Snow White. If only he were here today to continue that tradition and hire loads of people during this economic downturn. (Although I often visit the Disney jobs site, and they are continually hiring people, so that’s a plus). His constant pursuit of dreams continues to inspire at least me, and I’m sure thousands of others. Thus I have the inspiration to watch every animated feature his company produced (and yes, I did get teary when they mentioned the year he died in the “Disney through the Decades” special feature).
Because I work as a semester-to-semester employee at a University, I often have an entire month off from work. Before you feel jealous, think of having an entire month without pay every May, August and December/January. It stinks. I love my job, tutoring college students, but the schedule can be hard to cope with financially. In my months off, I would mope about not being able to find other employment for just a month and feel super stressed every time we went to the post office (yes, USPS does not deliver to our house. Welcome to Alaska). Next time I find myself temporarily out of work—with the knowledge I’m guaranteed to start back in 30 days—I’m going to take the Snow White route and just move on.
Tangled is my second favorite Disney feature. I saw it in theatres and bought it on Blu-ray (with a coupon, of course). This is most likely because I can –without a doubt– relate to Rapunzel the most. And it has Maximus the horse, who is just plain hilarious. Between him and Pascal, the chameleon, I was in stitches. This is my go-to pick-me-up movie. It makes me laugh and I only get teary at the end. I love the music, as well. (As opposed to The Lion King, my favorite Disney film, which makes me cry over and over and over again. Oh Mufasa—why must you die?! More on that in The Lion King later).
When Will My Life Begin was my anthem until our 6 month mark in Alaska. I was sitting around, going through the motions of living without really trying to make myself happy here. When we first moved to Alaska, we encountered a period of struggle unlike any I’d ever gone through before. We found out later that Anchorage, where we flew into and planned on living, has a kennel law: if you have more than two dogs, Anchorage considers you as a kennel and you can’t rent from any apartment complex. This left my husband, myself and our three large dogs (ranging in size from 45 pounds to 70 pounds) living in a one-room hotel room at a Motel 6. We weren’t allowed to leave the dogs in the room unattended, so everywhere we went from work to the grocery store, the dogs were in the back seat of our rental car (thank goodness for lint rollers and vacuums, or we’d have been out $250 to the rental car company).
Our first month was incredibly difficult. We called every apartment complex in the city, trying to find anything that we could move into. We called privately listed homes, but unlike in Florida, most privately rented homes are through property management companies with similar pet policies to the apartments. We went searching for a house to buy, but we had both been on our jobs for less than a month, which wasn’t particularly attractive to lenders in this oh-so-friendly housing market.
After two weeks in a hotel room that did not have any kind of kitchen—there was a microwave in the lobby and we kept an ice chest in our room, so our meal-preparation and eating was less than healthy or, for that matter, even good—I lost hope. I thought, we came all this way only to fail in less than a month? Some pioneers we are. I started fantasizing about renovating a vacant house my family owned in Oklahoma. I drew up floorplans from memory and priced flooring materials and bathtubs. I talked endlessly about how I’d love to fix up this 1930’s era house.
Right before I drove my husband crazy with talk of wanting to give up and move to Oklahoma, we found an apartment. It’s in the boonies—even by Alaska standards—and while it doesn’t look like people get murdered there on a regular basis, it doesn’t look like the most successful people live there either. But our dogs were okay and it had a kitchen, so I was sold. We found out quickly that our upstairs neighbor was…loud, to put it mildly. To make up for the lack of friendly neighbors, we found a great church just seven miles down the road (which, by Alaska standards, is practically next door).
Unfortunately, the reprieve we felt from not being trapped in a 300-square foot kitchen-less motel room didn’t last very long. A mostly empty apartment (we sold most of our furniture before moving and only brought the necessities, like our television, half my books and most of our kitchen tools/accessories; our new-furniture budget was used on a month in a hotel and a deposit on the apartment), three dogs not used to living in an apartment and a very, very loud upstairs neighbor sent me clamoring back to my dreams of the lower 48. I found a job teaching middle school language arts near Ayden, North Carolina, a small town near a big town on the East Coast. I started chattering about moving to Ayden, and being a teacher, and looking at houses there, and proceeded to drive my husband crazy yet again. Thankfully he is patient and held out hope that I’d fall in love with summertime in Alaska, like so many people have.
Summer in Alaska is truly spectacular. The evergreens, which provided a Currier and Ives setting during the winter, were eclipsed by bursts of green from birch trees and the vast amount of wildflowers. Fireweed, a pink-purple flower, began growing everywhere. Lupine and daisies sprung up along the sides of the road and in fields. I felt like we’d stepped back in time, with warm (ok, it never got higher than 76 degrees F, but that felt warm. Especially since we got six inches of snow—on St. Patrick’s Day. Yes, that is in March) sunny days and the mountains covered in shades of green from the newly bloomed trees. Children play in the lakes and people are constantly canoeing, kayaking or sailing on the same lakes. Fluffy white clouds would dot the sky, and all was well.
Except that it rained. A lot. We’d have four days of sun followed by five days of rain, so on and so forth. But now that it’s fall, and termination dust (the snow that falls on the mountain tops that signals the ‘termination’ of summer) has fallen on the mountains, I can go back and re-write my summer memories to mainly consisting of sunny, warm days (even though most days the highs were in the 60’s, but again—that felt warm).
Rapunzel is a dreamer, but she also makes the best of her situation. She keeps busy and entertains herself. Then she goes out on a great adventures, learns a lot about life and herself, and makes her life what she chooses it to be. That’s kind of like what I did, except I’m already married to the love of my life (that patient, patient man who didn’t rip all his hair out with my moaning and groaning and dreaming about living somewhere else) and we’re already on our great adventure. But I finally learned to enjoy it.
It was mid-August when my in-laws came to visit and we got to show them our favorite places in Alaska and explore new places. It wasn’t until we began exploring all these new, exiting places—and saw lots of wildlife—that I really began to enjoy living here. From seeing a whale in Prince William Sound to a grizzly bear in Denali National Park to playing with a sled dog puppy at the Iditarod Museum (conveniently located across the street from our church and just seven miles from where we live), I began to really experience Alaska.
Instead of focusing on Rapunzel’s “When Will My Life Begin” theme, I focused on finding a new dream. A dream that actually takes place where we already live. I finally realized that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, so I may as well enjoy it.
So now we’re looking to buy a house. In Alaska, land of dreams. Well, my dreams—now.
The Lion King…again
Tomorrow, my favorite Tuesday in October, The Lion King comes out on Blu-Ray. It will be a happy, happy day. Leading up to that, Disney re-released the epic film back into theatres for two whole, glorious weeks.
I may have seen it 3 times in theatres. I may have personally contributed $36.25 of this year’s re-release box office total of (approximately and according to Wiki) $61 million dollars. HA! That’s awesome. Lion King love!
Ahem. Sorry about that. Anyway, it’s not every day that my favorite movie is re-released into theatres (only 3 times in 17 years and I didn’t get to go the second time because it was only at IMAX and Indiana didn’t have IMAX yet. Or if they did it was in Indy, and no one would take me.) ANYWAY, I saw it twice in 3D and once in 2D and it was amazing each and every time.
While I’m not (yet) at the point where I ask myself WWMD (What Would Mufasa Do), I do have a deep and unconditional love for this film. After all, Charlie (our 70 lb collie whom I’ve had since he was a 7 week old terror) grew up watching TLK and even thinks that he is a lion (complete with roar-esque groaning noises). The Lion King love is seriously strong in our house.
I’m beyond happy that the rest of the world–and a whole new generation of kids– have been able to experience this amazing feature in theatres again. And in 3D! Zazu flew over my head. Scar jumped at my face (can you say SCARY?! Huh, s-c-a-r are the first four letters of scary. I wonder if that is a coincidence?!). Basically, it was awesome, and I’m still reeling from it. So I had to tell you about it. Again (x2).
That’s all for now. Pinocchio should be arriving via Netflix/ Quickster (I mean really— why’d they have to change?! No me gusta) mid-week, so expect a weekend report. I say weekend because of course I’ll be in Lion King blu-ray heaven until then. 🙂