Monday, December 8, 2014

Robin Hood/The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Alright everyone, now we really get to a good Disney movie for today. Why do you ask? Because I am now going to look at “Robin Hood,” released in 1973, which, if I remember correctly, is my brother’s favorite Disney movie. As a Disney movie that came after “Sleeping Beauty,” it’s a great entry, possibly better than “The Sword in the Stone” or “The Fox and the Hound,” but may not be as good as “The Jungle Book” or the next film I will look at after this one. Steven D.Greydanus stated in his review, “On the down side, it suffers from uninspired animation and a one-dimensional title character (fine Brian Bedford); on the up side, it benefits from strong supporting vocal talent (Phil Harris as a Baloo-like Little John, Peter Ustinov as Prince John, inimitable Andy Devine as Friar Tuck, Pat Buttram as the Sheriff of Nottingham), a catchy country-themed soundtrack courtesy of Roger Miller as Alan-a-Dale, and a fine swashbuckling plot.”

Besides that, the pride of having the story with animals puts a certain charm, and helps look over twists like not having Merry Men and the diverse accents (British Bedford, Southerners Devine and Buttram, etc).

When looking at the cartoon adapting the source material, the famous archery contest/trap part is famously retold, while a throwaway joke referring to Robin and Little John’s meeting on top of a river-spanning log does have a moment of silly humor. The “rob from the rich” half of Robin’s ethic is never shown connecting with anyone other than Prince John, whose reign the cartoon is at doesn’t really make clear is strange, like the lyric in the one song “Prince John, that phony king of England,” and there’s a throwaway line telling how John tricked Richard (also voiced by Ustinov) into leaving England “on those crazy crusades.” The taxation policy is clearly seen as unfair. The “give to the poor” part is also emphasized, along with the sufferings of the overtaxed population, holding the legend’s moral orientation.

Greydanus said that, “Worth noting is jovial, pugnacious Friar Tuck’s status as one of the few positive representatives of Christianity in a Disney animated feature.” As a religious person, he’s allowed to suggest to the gospels (“Your last farthing? Aw, little sister, no one can give more than that!”) and say things like “Thank God! My prayers have been answered!” like he really means it. When Prince John plans to hang Friar Tuck in order to lure Robin Hood while he’s hiding, even Sir Hiss, voiced by Terry-Thomas, is stunned. “Hang Friar Tuck? A man of the Church?”

See the movie because you will love it.

Next up for today will be “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh,” released in 1977. This movie is based off of the famous A. A. Milne tales, which are told so long ago to Pooh bear himself under the close attention of Christopher Robin.

In retelling these stories, the Disney animation studios would inevitably to that. Greydanus mentioned that, “Disneyfied Milne’s creations, as it did everything it touched, from the dwarfs in Snow White to the satyr in Hercules.”

However Pooh and his friends, though visually made from Ernest H. Shepard’s classic illustrations, somehow come to life from the Disneyfication process more unmistakably themselves than any storybook characters in any other Disney film, while Milne’s distinctive voices still has the quality in with a clarity and integrity surpassing that of any other author Disney adapted, from Collodi (Pinocchio) to Barrie (Peter Pan) to Hugo (The Hunchback of Notre Dame). The only author to get anything like this similar treatment was Lewis Carroll in “Alice in Wonderland.”

The end result isn’t perfect but it’s up there as the most charming and delightful films for even infants. Greydanus even admits, “Actually an anthology of three featurettes based on Milne’s writings, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh includes the well-known tales of the Honey Tree and the Blustery Day, among others.” The voice work is great as well, from Sterling Holloway’s warm, fuzzy rhythms as Pooh (he also voiced Cheshire Cat and Kaa from “Jungle Book”) and John Fiedler’s fearful little tones as Piglet to the rich narration of Sebastian Cabot (who voiced Bagheera in “Jungle Book”). This is a timeless film for the entire family to watch.

Hope you all enjoyed today’s entry, stay tuned for more “Disney Month” coming right at you.

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