I am a child at heart, and I don’t think that I will ever lose my childlike wonder for the world. Growing up, I was completely enamored by Disney’s animated films and cartoons and was entrenched in a world of magic and enchantment. I watched every Disney flick from “Mulan” to “Tangled.” I got lost in stories of princesses and witches and talking animals. Something about the magical world of Disney woke up my imagination and gave me stories that were larger than life.
Disney’s recent live action recreations of their animated classics, including 2014’s “Maleficent,” 2015’s “Cinderella” and this year’s “The Jungle Book,” have proven very successful. “Maleficent” made 758 million dollars in the US box office alone, while “Cinderella” maintains a respectable 84 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. “The Jungle Book” is still crushing the box office, having earned more than 600 million dollars worldwide in less than a month with an incredible 94 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
There is a reason for this success. Disney’s formula for making nostalgic entertainment is unbeatable. I love how Disney takes a familiar tale and adds a twist to it for a live action film. Not only do I get to relive my childhood fantasies, but I get to view fairytales through a new lens.
Maleficent, played by Angelina Jolie, gave me an inside look into the mind of a villain and gave me a new perspective on a classic fairytale and what it means to be a villain. “Maleficent” has a new feminist vein that glorifies love between women instead of hate. Plus, seeing the Sleeping Beauty tale in live action was a glamorous experience filled with charm and allure. Watching “Maleficent” in theaters, I had the comfort of revisiting one of my childhood favorites while seeing it in a whole new light.
Last year’s “Cinderella” remained very true to the story of the animated classic, but watching it in live action was spectacular. It was amazing to view my beloved fairy tale characters as real-life human beings, with lovely actors like Lily James and Richard Madden. I was dazzled by the splendor of the setting and the costumes. There’s something endearing about watching a cartoon come to life with such grandeur.
As for “The Jungle Book,” the most recent in Disney’s parade of live action remakes, I can’t even begin to describe the emotional rollercoaster I felt watching it in 3D in theaters. Watching Mowgli in the flesh interact with all his animal friends—and enemies—brought back happy memories of my carefree childhood. I remembered being filled with glee whenever another familiar character appeared onscreen for the first time. Another thing that makes Disney special are the unforgettable songs that never quite leave your memory. In this case, when Mowgli sang “Bear Necessities” with Baloo, my heart sang with joy. I was overcome with nostalgia—the key to the success of Disney live action remakes.
Disney has several live animation remakes currently in development, including “Beauty and the Beast,” starring Emma Watson, and “Dumbo,” directed by Tim Burton—whose 2010 “Alice in Wonderland” could easily be seen as the bellwether of this live action trend. But I personally can’t wait to see what they will do with another iconic villain in the upcoming “Cruella,” starring Emma Stone. Bring on the live action remakes, Disney, because I never want to lose my childhood magic.
Sabrina Leung ‘18 is the Digital Editor majoring in International Relations-Political Science with a minor in History. She is best reached at email@example.com or @sabrinatzleung on Twitter.