The "nothingness" I decided upon was to curl up on my couch with my cat and watch movies. I ended up watching Sleeping Beauty since I'd snagged it for relatively cheap on a Black Friday sale, and it'd been years since I'd seen it. Also, probably what I was more interested in, was watching the bonus features. I love watching the making-of documentaries of the old, classic Disney movies. They just positively fascinate me. That level of craftsmanship is just plain extraordinary. The drawing and redrawing and inking and painting of each individual cell.. nobody would do that now. We have computers. The time and dedication that went into these, it blows me away. We don't pay attention to it. We watch them, we get maybe a bit nostalgic... but, really, we've grown up with these, we've seen them a million times... it's hard to see them with new eyes.
There is a definite cutoff in the quality of Disney animation. I highly doubt we will ever, ever see a return to the original glory that they used to be. Those days are over. The closest things to quality now are the Pixar computer-animation incarnations - which, don't get me wrong, are wonderful in their own right. But pen on paper? No, that's done. It's been interesting to watch the making-of for the more modern movies (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, etc - the Little Mermaid, especially, that was the resuscitation of classic Disney, they were hellbent to bring it back and they did. There was a lot more focus on music, too - Alan Menken, Howard Ashman - these men were genius. Alan Menken did resurface to do some work on Enchanted, but, well, I'll be honest - I thought those songs were ridiculous, nowhere near the genius of, say, "Under the Sea" or the like) in comparison with the classics (101 Dalmatians, The Aristocats, Sleeping Beauty), when you were literally looking at archive footage and people reminiscing. They would use the same actors/actresses over various films (Maleficent and the Stepmother in Cinderella are the same; Flora from Sleeping Beauty, The Fairy Godmother from Cinderella, and an elephant somwehre in Dumbo,the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, all the same; Lady from Lady & The Tramp and Merryweather from Sleeping Beauty, the same. Nothing obvious, but if you listen, you can hear it) - not going after "Names". (I'm sorry, as much as I love the movie, having Eddie Murphy in Mulan was just, well, odd to me.) Sleeping Beauty, the focus was on on the art. The backgrounds, the painting, the whole visual shebang. The background artist actually overruled the animators on a few occasions. 101 Dalmatians - they were doing a new style, where they allowed some of the sketch marks to be shown, where the animator's original drawings actually made it to the screen, unlike the others where they go through so many hands and variations. Still, again, my favorite thing is the color - the hand painted cells. Even when I was little, I could notice the difference. For example, in Aladdin the colors and lines were beautiful; in the sequel(s), it was just black lines colored in. It looked cheap. I wanted nothing to do with the sequels. Even as a kid I could tell the difference.
Speaking of which... Walt Disney must be rolling over in his grave, if he knew about all these shitty sequels and prequels and midquels that were pervading the market. In his day, his vision was to create new and unique and original works of art - each movie took years and unfathomable amounts of hard work. Now, they're spitting out half-ass imitations to make a buck. It is so beyond what Disney was supposed to stand for... But, like I said.. those old days are dead. It makes me a little bit sad, because I was around when it was new and interesting. The Little Mermaid, Beauty & The Beast, Aladdin - even as far forward as the Lion King - this was the end of Disney's Renaissance. Everything after became crap. There are still a large handful of 'classics' that I've never seen - Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Tarzan- I don't consider them classics. At all. There are some that I have seen (Emporer's New Groove) which, while well-received, I personally don't care for. Perhaps I'm an idealist. Perhaps I'm just being ridiculously nostalgic. I miss the era when an animated feature film was truly a work of art. Now, well, they're shit. (Again, I am not lumping in the Pixar movies - these are a different creation and so far I have loved every one that I have seen. Still, they are a different beast than what I am talking about).
Anyway. I find myself snatching up the classics when I can - I'm still down Beauty & The Beast and The Lion King due to the ridiculous Vault conspiracy, I may have missed Cinderella but that one recently just stashed away and I could probably find on the cheap if I wanted to. Still, I'm afraid that we are the last generation that will ever truly appreciate the masterpieces that these were - and maybe even at that, I'm part of the minority. I know my friends and I will all still confess our deep down love of the classic Disney movies (we have no shame), but I think the movies are actually falling into a place where they are more in favor with the adults than with kids. Kids these days... (excuse me while I shake my fist and command them to get off my lawn)... they just don't appreciate the same things. I feel I am fortunate to be in the generation that I am in - kind of caught between the old and the new, and fully able to embrace both - but eventually I'm just going to be an old crazy woman bemoaning the good old days.
EDIT: I stand corrected.... According to Wikipedia (the Source of All Knowledge), Disney's going to give it another go. Supposedly they announced that "Home on the Range" was going to be the last 2D animated Disney movie, ever (I barely even remember this movie coming out??)... but, WAIT! They are creating "The Princess and the Frog" to be released next year. It's being written by the genius behind The Little Mermaid and Aladdin (yay!). Alan Menken was almost attached to it (would have been yay) but since he was doing Enchanted, they went with Randy Newman (all I remember is he did Toy Story and a satirical appearance on Family Guy... so, um, less yay.) Still - this might actually Not Suck. This will remain to be seen... Also what is nice is that apparently the main character is 19ish... which if you ask me is a much more reasonable age to be considering marriage and the like, rather than the traditional age of 16 in Little Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty, etc etc (I mean, seriously. WHY?) Also, Rapunzel. This one is going to be GCI (boo) but made to look done in traditional hand-drawn (um, ok) or something like "hand drawn 3D" (um, what?). So, the bastard child of pencils and computers. Interesting. We'll see how these go...
Also, Beauty & The Beast is re-emerging in October 2010. Screw you, Amazon & Ebay. I can wait. I don't need to pay $30+. so HA.
/end soapbox rant.