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Animation: Walt Disney’s Legacy and Characters Essay

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Mickey and Charlie Chaplin

By claiming that Mickey was not a clown, since he was neither silly nor dumb, Ted Sears made a witty commentary on the nature of comedy that Mickey had to offer. At this point, a parallel between Mickey and Chaplin’s famous character should be drawn. Unlike a million stock characters, these have very distinct personalities; therefore, the comedy comes not only from the misery that they suffer but from the way, in which they address these situations based on their unique and well-developed personalities.

The quote, therefore, allows re-evaluating the impression that Mickey leaves. On the surface, it seems that the comedy comes from the troubles that Mickey has to go through. A closer look at the character, however, will reveal that Mickey Mouse, with all his seeming “silliness,” in fact, often proves to be the winner in the end.

Both the Tramp and Mickey Mouse often have to face injustice, greed, and other vices of society; and both seem to handle their losses pretty well. However, what makes the public adore them is that they are never threatening. With their innocence and touching belief in humanity, they are incredibly relatable and easy to sympathize with, which their creators were obviously counting on.

Walt Disney’s and Grimm’s Snow White

One of the greatest accomplishments of the Golden Disney era, Snow White was obviously a challenge to the traditions created by the Grimm brothers. First and most obvious, Disney had to rewrite the story so that a three-page narrative could be extended to a 1.5-hour feature film. In addition, the characters and the very idea behind the legend had to be changed entirely. Even with the alterations made to the initial cruel story so that it could be told to young children, the characters clearly needed development, and the plot twists required explanation.

Walt Disney handled this task perfectly. Though feminists may argue about the focus on Prince Charming and the “happily ever after,” Snow White is not bland – she is portrayed as hard-working, honest, and reasonable. Every dwarf was given a unique personality, and the Evil Queen has left a huge legacy in the Disney culture, has become one of the most intimidating and malicious characters in Disney history – which is saying a lot, given a wide range of delightfully dreadful villains (e.g., Shere Khan, Ja’far, Scar, to name a few). Impeccably designed, with the necessary alterations made here and there, the new story of Snow White was destined to be a hit.

Fleisher Brothers vs. Walt Disney

With a huge success that followed Disney’s attempt to introduce the American audience to animation, a lot of studios were trying to repeat Disney’s success. The Disney formula, however, was by far too unique and distinctive to copy it entirely. As a result, another major animation studio, Fleischer Brothers, tried to come up with a different approach. Since the very beginning, Disney has been known as the producer of “safe,” family-friendly movies with a timeless message offered delicately to the audience. The Fleischer Brothers, in their turn, decided to take chances by creating more “adult” content with more sophisticated humor.

The moral in the shorts made by the Fleischer Brothers were often one-note and obviously shoved into the movie so that it could be green-lighted and broadcast on the “big screen.” For instance, the shorts like “Three Orphan Kittens” (Disney) had mainly the “cutesiness” of the lead character in focus, whereas the charm of Hunky and Spunky (the Fleischer Studios) concerned the comedic behavior of the characters and the troubles that they got into. While the similarity between the characters is obvious, the dilemmas that the two series tackled were quite different, Disney playing a relatively safe card and promoting kindness, love, etc., and The Fleisher Studios offering their viewers a cautious tale about a topical social issue (i.e., the stranger danger, etc.).

Disney and the Stratified Culture

For a number of reasons, the animation is often disregarded as an art form, the main argument being that its primary audience is children. The assumption that children are incapable of appreciating the artistry of a specific work is, however, erroneous; instead, they are often unable to express their ideas and fascination with the animation. Disney was one of few people, who understood the power of animation and gave credit to children’s ability to see its beauty; therefore, he was promoting animation as one of the forms of art and, therefore, a phenomenon worth being viewed in an art gallery. Put in an art exhibition, the animation will provide adults with an opportunity to wander into the realm of childhood and see the world through the lens of a child, therefore, relating to the latter.

Though art galleries of Mickey Mouse cartoons nowadays exist only in the realm of the Internet reality, one must admit that an impressive breakthrough has been made since the first Disney animated short was broadcasted. Mickey Mouse cartoons have been discussed in a variety of radio and TV shows; evaluations of the effect that Disney movies and animated shorts have had on the American culture have been carried out in magazines and journals. In a way, the works of Disney have been put into an art gallery; with an unceasing discussion of the effects of Disney’s works on children and adults, the “exhibits” are always on display, and this art gallery will hardly ever run out of visitors.

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1. IvyPanda. "Animation: Walt Disney's Legacy and Characters." April 4, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/animation-walt-disneys-legacy-and-characters/.


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IvyPanda. "Animation: Walt Disney's Legacy and Characters." April 4, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/animation-walt-disneys-legacy-and-characters/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Animation: Walt Disney's Legacy and Characters." April 4, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/animation-walt-disneys-legacy-and-characters/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Animation: Walt Disney's Legacy and Characters'. 4 April.

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