All of the recent and upcoming Disney live-action remakes have left me with mixed feelings.
I was born in 1990, which means I was born in the early years of what is referred to as the “Disney Renaissance.” It’s hard to believe now that the studio had been in a bit of a slump, but the 1990s brought it back firmly to being the powerhouse it remains now.
It’s hard to explain just how much the movies from this era were staples of my childhood. My younger brother and I nearly wore out our VHS tape of “Aladdin” as well as its two direct-to-video sequels. “The Lion King” and “Beauty and the Beast” were the other mainstays.
Because of this, all of these movies remind me of a certain time of life. I’m prone to nostalgia as it is, but few things take me back more than Disney movies from the ‘90s.
I think this is why I’m so conflicted about the slate of remakes. I didn’t think much of it when “Cinderella” was released in 2015 or even when “The Jungle Book” came out the following year, probably because I felt less attachment to them.
I felt some hesitation when the live-action “Beauty and the Beast” came out in 2017. I’ve always related to Belle, probably because she has “her nose stuck in a book,” which I did too as a kid. I watched the movie in IMAX, and I remember sitting excitedly in my seat waiting for the movie to start.
In hindsight, this surprises me, because when I saw the first trailer for “Aladdin,” I immediately got nervous they were going to mess up a childhood favorite. It’s odd too because you would think one could trust Disney of all film studios to make a high-quality movie. They have a pretty good track record.
I haven’t quite been able to figure out why I’m so hesitant. Everyone I know who has seen the movie said it’s a fun, updated version of the original.
But still, I have not seen the new version of “Aladdin,” despite how much I love the original. For some reason, I think I imagine it changing how I remember the animated classic.
The same holds for the computer-animated remake of “The Lion King” slated for release in July. To this day, I argue that it is the best animated film Disney has ever made. It is a masterpiece.
My reaction to the first trailer for this one was a bit different though. My first thought was that it looked absolutely beautiful. It’s clear that the animation is incredible, and it doesn’t hurt that James Earl Jones will reprise his role as the voice of Mufasa.
I’m sure I will eventually see both “Aladdin” and “The Lion King.” And I’m sure I will enjoy them both. I’m sure they will include references to their source material that plays right into my sense of nostalgia, as “Beauty and the Beast” did.
When any remake or reboot is released, people are upset that something they love has been ruined. I don’t feel that any of my childhood has been ruined. But these remakes do require me to separate the two versions of the story in my mind.
I’m trying to acknowledge that a new version of one of my favorite things doesn’t change my memories of the first one. Hakuna Matata and all that.