The 1990s produced a number of acclaimed hand-drawn animated features from Disney. At the same time, the decade also popularized the production of fully computer-animated movies, which was pioneered by the release of “Toy Story” in 1995. Before 3D CGI animation dominated the market, Disney produced a fair share of classic 2D animated movies. For the decade’s finest traditional animation offerings, the adaptation of literary works into cinematic musicals still proved very bankable as a blockbuster formula.
“Beauty and the Beast” (1991)
Based on the popular French fairy tale “La Belle et la Bete” by Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont, “Beauty and the Beast” tells the story of a young, arrogant prince cursed as an ugly beast by an enchantress. The only way to break the spell is if he learns to love and earn love before his 21st birthday. He meets the beautiful Belle who exchanges herself for her father’s freedom from the Beast, which means she must remain with him in his castle forever.
Now considered a quintessential Disney classic, this elegantly animated fairy-tale romance showcases a charming story of love and redemption. The portrayal of Belle as a Disney princess in this movie made her an iconic character in popular culture. The film was nominated for the Oscar Best Picture Award and it won the Oscars for Best Original Score and Original Song. Aside from becoming a huge hit for both regular viewers and critics during its theatrical release, it also proved successful in the home movie market and it even ushered a new stage musical, which soon became one of the most viable stage productions in Broadway.
“Aladdin” explores the romance between the street-smart peasant Aladdin and Princess Jasmine. However, amidst falling in love, his social status hinders him from marrying the princess. He uses tha magic lamp he retrieves inside the Cave of Wonders to become a prince and be with her. Soon, the evil Jafar steals the lamp, which threatens the entire kingdom through the three wishes the genie of the lamp can grant him.
Adapted from the Arabian classic folktale “One Thousand and One Nights,” this animated masterpiece shines in the key elements of an animated musical Disney is known for: memorable songs, appealing characters, and dazzling animation. It is also faithful to its source material, while still being able to creatively incorporate more contemporary elements to the final piece. It won both the Oscar and Golden Globe Awards for Best Original Score and Original Song and the Annie Awards for Best Animated Feature.
“The Lion King” (1994)
“The Lion King” is an emotionally stirring and beautifully animated masterpiece from its very first shot until the credits roll. Loosely based on Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” this film exudes such emotional resonance in telling the story of a guild-ridden lion cab who goes into self-exile after being tricked to believe that he killed his father. Its quintessential appeal to the masses also leads to the spawning of an equally successful stage production.
More than just being a commercially successful franchise, this Disney classic is also a thematically and technically accomplished audio-visual offering. It won the the Best Original Score and Original Song at the Oscars and the Best Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical, Original Score – Motion Picture, and Original Song – Motion Picture at the Golden Globes. It also won the Annie Awards for Best Voice Acting and Individual Achievement for Story Contribution in the Field of Animation.
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