Back when my partner and I first moved in together, we set about on a task that soon became much bigger than we could have imagined: we were going to watch every Disney film. When we started, Disney+ had a Through the Decades collection, where you could watch the films and the shorts in order. We started with this, but unfortunately the collection was removed (boo!) when Star arrived. So we switched to the D23 list. Many of these films are ones I have seen many, many times – others I had absolutely no knowledge of prior to this. The D23 list is only films released by Disney, whereas the Disney+ collection also contained those they acquired. Hence why we watched the original Swiss Family Robinson, produced by RKO, before the collection was removed. The D23 list doesn’t contain these, and some of these movies aren’t available anywhere to watch, but for the purposes of this I’ll note the ones we’ve had to skip over. Hopefully I’ll be able to watch the missing ones eventually!
So yeah, recently I decided I should note down my thoughts on them. I’ll be sticking to five films per post for the time being. Anyway, hope you enjoy this as much as we’re enjoying watching them, and definitely let me know if you’ve done anything similar! For this I am working off the D23 list, so some of the earlier films we watched won’t be included.
1937: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
An absolute classic, this definitely falls into “have seen so many times I lost count”. I suspect it’s the same for most people. The story of a princess with an evil stepmother who flees into the woods and immediately starts cleaning the small cottage she comes across. Snow is the original princess, the first full length feature put out by Disney, and she has a pretty awesome dark ride too. There’s not much more that can be said about this, really. Live action remake of this is due in 2024.
Ah, Pinocchio! A beloved classic tale of a puppet turned real boy, who must learn how to be a real boy. He skips school, ends up briefly as an actor, before finding himself on ‘Pleasure Island’. The remake of this arrived on Disney+ fairly recently, but I haven’t yet watched it. Like Snow White, I’ve seen this film a lot. It’s fun, and it introduced us to Jiminy Cricket, who became an absolute icon for Disney.
This actually ranked really low on my list of Disney films when I was a kid, and it’s one of the few I haven’t actually watched that much. I just didn’t have the appreciation for it, or the patience for films lacking dialogue (see also the non-Disney animated film: The Snowman). As such, it’s the first one on this list that I didn’t already know inside out. And, to be fair, it’s great. Wonderfully imaginative, a brilliant combination of music and animation, and some great moments of humour. Some parts…truly do not hold up well, but because I wasn’t fussed on this one I never got around to watching Fantasia/2000, and though there is a very long time to go until we get to that one, I’m really looking forward to it!
1941: The Reluctant Dragon
And so we have the first film on the list I had never ever seen at all. This was pure delight. For those as unfamiliar as I was, Robert Benchley wants to pitch a book to Walt Disney, so travels to the studios clutching The Reluctant Dragon. He makes his way through a variety of different areas in the studios, discovering the work that goes into making any animated features. You can really see the joy behind this, as they combine animation with live action, and get to show off the behind-the-scenes elements. Not to mention if you know your Disney films, there’s some great easter eggs for what was coming up next.
Oh Dumbo. Turns out there were some parts of this film I had totally forgotten, but for the most part I remembered the key bits – including the absolutely heart-breaking “Baby Mine” scene. This film still makes me weep. Poor little elephant. Most are familiar with the story – Dumbo is a circus elephant born with huge ears, and is ridiculed by those around him. Others will also hopefully be aware of the more problematic elements of the film, which truly do not hold up.
So these are the first five films we watched, quite a long time ago at this point! Just to give you an idea of where we are at the time of writing this…we’re only on 1954! A long way to go until we hit more of a slump era for Disney, and we are way off the live action remake period, but safe to say some of these films are really enjoyable to go back and rewatch. I might even be able to catch up with myself on this list before we go too far.