Gators and Mice: The Rescuers

            As odd as it is, the main thing I remembered about The Rescuers was the alligators. I couldn’t remember what they did or why they were important, but I clearly remembered their presence. The funny thing is that in the sequel, The Rescuers Down Under, alligators/crocodiles play a large part in the plot as well. Those large reptiles are always thwarting our heroes and helping the villains. After living in Florida for four years and only seeing alligators in the zoo, I can’t really vouch for their negative representation in Disney films (except Princess and the Frog, in which one alligator in particular breaks stereotypes). Then again, it’s not like they didn’t earn their reputation as vicious predators.
            There are many interesting occurrences associates with this film. It did exceptionally well at the box office, but was also the final film of Disney’s ‘Golden Age’ of animation. The Rescuers is also the last Oscar-nominated animated film until The Little Mermaid, which was released twelve years later and signaled the beginning of the Disney Renaissance that children of the late 80’s and early 90’s are most familiar with. It was the first Disney film to inspire a sequel, as well. The technology of animation also improved with this film; the xerography process was altered to give the film a cleaner look, and more colors were added. For instance, Miss Bianca is outlined in purple instead of black. Though this is a small detail to the viewer, it has a big effect on the film as a whole as well as on the evolution of animation technology.
            There are an amazing number of similarities between the villain of this film and that of another—101 Dalmatians. Madame Medusa was actually based on Cruella DeVil; at one point, the animators considered having the villain be Cruella. They even drive the same car; both of them drive it manically, of course.
            I have to say, I really appreciate that Bernard works his way up into the Rescue Aid Society from being a janitor by being a gentleman. His superstitious-ness is cute, but his concern for Miss Bianca’s safety—and his bravery in speaking up about it—signify his strong character. It’s also reassuring to see a strong female lead; she isn’t afraid to speak up for herself or risk her own safety in order to save someone else.
            Although I look forward to completing my (re)Discovering Disney project, I’m also a little sad. I have only five films left, and I find myself watching them a little slower, trying to savor them more. I know The Fox and the Hound will make me sad for days, but the way I see everything has changed because of my father’s death. Moments that didn’t use to be bittersweet are now. For instance, The Little Mermaid is next. I’m already thinking about the end of the film, when Ariel says goodbye to her family after her wedding, as she’s going to live on land instead of in the sea. I know now how hard it is to live far from your family; I feel it more now, because my father is in heaven. I can’t call him, or see him when I visit. Instead I’ll have one more person upon whose grave I’ll place flowers. I have a lot of happy memories, but I have more things that I never got to say. Now I’m left with this heart full of words that I can only write in a letter he’ll never read or say into the wind, hoping my words are heard from above. My life will forever be different.

            Change is difficult as it is, but things ending have always been the hardest for me to cope with. And now everything seems to be ending at once. My father’s life has ended, my project of the past eight months is coming to a close, and the school year is almost over. Next year a new wave of ninth graders will walk into my classroom door, with new quirks and interests and life will be full of new beginnings. Like Mufasa said, it’s the Circle of Life. We’re all moving, life is constantly changing. I’m ready for new beginnings, but new endings are always hard on my heart. Instead of thinking of these endings, I’ll try to think like The Rescuers heroine, Penny. Focus on the new beginnings in life, on being kind and sticking up for those you love—even if those you love happen to be mice and a teddy bear. Love is love, regardless of the recipient.


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