Wednesday, 29 November 2017

The Enduring Power of Fairy Tales

To what do we credit the enduring power of fairy tales? 

At first they may appear to be merely entertaining stories about fantastic places and strange events. Looking at them again, they might appear to be straightforward morality tales or instructive lessons: whistle while you work, a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, have courage and be kind. Academics have built careers constructing socio-cultural and psycho-sexual interpretations. Fairy tales can bear many interpretations and be enjoyed on many different levels.

There is, however, something deep at the root and core of fairy tales that invites them to be reread and reinterpreted and reimagined every generation, from paintings on cave walls to CGI musical spectaculars on the silver screen. This enduring power is wonder.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Top Five: Favourite Non-Disney Versions of Disney Things

Disney has left an indelible mark on fairy tales, to the point where it is virtually impossible to think of the stories of Grimm and Perrault, of Barrie and Carroll, without thinking of how Disney visualized them. Yet these stories are part of the common heritage of the West and Disney is not the only artist to have approached them. The following is a list of mine and Ashley's favourite non-Disney versions of stories typically considered the be Disney's own property. In some cases, our love for these renditions supersedes that of the Disney version, either from quality or nostalgia. At the very least, they are well worth the time to check out.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

After Walt's Era: Top Fives

I just can't let it go! Having discussed "Life After Walt" in the closing chapter of Walt's Era and touched on it in my conclusion, which included a "Top Five", I'm going to carry on in a fashion. I have no inclination whatsoever to go systematically through every Disney film made from 1968 to today. Please God no. But I can offer up my top five films, animated and live-action, from each of the company's major eras.

First would, of course, be the era of Card Walker and Ron Miller, from 1968 to 1984. This was the era immediately after Walt's passing, when the company tried in fits and starts to find its way without its founder. That came to an end in 1984 with chaos on the board of directors, several takeover attempts, and finally the introduction of Michael Eisner. It was this era I actually grew up in, incidentally. It's easy to be negative about Eisner from the controversial final years of his reign, but for an entire generation, Eisner was the only face of Disney they really knew. When I sat down on Sunday nights to watch Wonderful World of Disney, it was not Walt Disney who greeted me, but Michael Eisner. Finally it is the era of Bob Iger, who took charge of the company after Eisner was escorted out. Though originally slated to end this year, the loss of Iger's heir apparent, Tom Staggs, forced him to stay on for at least a few more years, with preparations to stay on even longer if necessary.

My reaction to each of these eras is a little different. Having reached the end of Walt's era and having studied Walt Disney World's history a bit more, I have a greater appreciation for what Walker and Miller tried and accomplished during their time. They were up against incredible challenges, and even though their experimentation didn't often work, at least they tried. Eisner's era was the Disney Renaissance, phenomenal in the beginning, a little more questionable towards the end. As a fan of classic Disney, I'm growing less and less enchanted with Iger's transformation of the company into a high-end IP management firm, of which "Disney" is merely one brand, easily discarded as the needs of marketing demand. I recently saw a comment that jokingly, but accurately, described Iger's reign as the Anything-But-Disney Decade. Keep in mind that as I rank these top fives from each era, I'm only counting Disney and none of Iger's acquisitions.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Walt's Era - Part 19: Conclusion and Top Fives

What does one learn by watching every Disney film of Walt's Era, in order? 

Almost all of these films I had seen before, in one way or another, mostly through building up our own DVD collection. Walt's era has long been an interest of mine and my favourite era in the company's history. It was, after all, the era when the company rose to ascendancy, built Disneyland, and produced nearly all of my favourite Disney films. Yet I never sat down to watch them in order, which turned out to be a monumental task that was great in the good years and surprisingly tedious and demoralizing in the not-so-good ones. Here's what I learned...

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Now's the Time we say Goodbye...

This has been a hard decision to make, and has been a long time coming, but after four years of adventures in yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy, it is time to draw this blog to a close.

We've been on a wonderful journey these past four years, and I'm sure there is still plenty to talk about in regards to the true life inspirations behind Disney films and attractions, but for as much as we've loved doing this blog and having a venue to share our own unique approach to Disney fandom, we just don't have the time to devote to producing the best blog we possibly can anymore. Just on the cusp of finishing a grand project of watching all of Walt Disney's films in order, and the way that this blog has often dominated our habits of reading and traveling and writing and otherwise how we spend our time, Yesterday, Tomorrow, and Fantasy is a lot of work. That would be fine if it was an all-consuming passion (and a revenue-earner), but we also try to lead healthy, balanced lives that don't completely revolve around Disney. That's the essence of what this blog has been about: to explore life beyond Disney. Both Ashley and myself hold down multiple jobs and volunteer for a variety of organizations, as well as carry on interests outside of the Disneysphere. And honestly, after watching all the Disney movies, what else is there really to do?!

I also wish I could say that the current direction of the Disney company wasn't negatively influencing this decision, but it is. We still love the things we have loved about Disney - the films we've loved, the attractions we've loved, the interest in the company's history, the warm place it's held in our own lives as where we were engaged and honeymooned - but we also recognize that Disney is very much intent on pushing non-Disney IP on us and demolishing or vandalizing everything we actually did love about the parks. Each new development feels like a validation of not centring our lives around Disney, and clearing room for the hours-long line-ups of fans with less discriminating tastes in IP and theme park design. 

Since we still love the things about Disney that we have loved, I may still want to write about them now and then. From now on, you'll find anything I have to say over on my other blog, Voyages Extraordinaires: Scientific Romances in a Bygone Age. In fact, this very day I posted an article about The Island at the Top of the World and Tony Baxter's ill-fated Discovery Bay. The circle for Yesterday, Tomorrow, and Fantasy is coming around... It started more or less as an offshoot of my other blog, where I could write about Disney stuff freely instead of straining connections to Victorian Science Fiction. Now we're streamlining operations again.

Since Walt's Era isn't quite over yet, November will feature the final chapter, as well as a couple follow-ups on our regular schedule. Our final post will be on November 29th, with a final inspirational word about what we hoped to accomplish with Yesterday, Tomorrow, and Fantasy. And with that...

See ya' real soon!
Why? Because we like you!