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Disney Movies: Live-Action v. Animation part 2

Hello everyone and welcome back to my Disney articles. My love for Disney knows very little bounds and thus I continue my comparison of Disney animation and live-action. For the last article, I compared three movies, Maleficent/Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, and Lion King. This time I will be comparing Cinderella, Aladdin, and 101 Dalmatians/Cruella. Just like last time, I am going to give you the official synopsis, my thoughts on the movies, a few character differences, and the music scores. At the end, I will tell you which version I prefer. Most of these movies and biographies can be found on Disney+. However, for some reason, Disney+ doesn’t have the Cinderella live-action movie. I found the description on the IMDB website.

Cinderella

Animation: With a wave of her wand––and some “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo”––Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother transforms an ordinary pumpkin into a magnificent coach and Cinderella’s rags into a gorgeous gown. Then she sends her off to the Royal Ball. But when Cinderella’s enchanted evening ends at the stroke of midnight, will she get her fairy-tale ending?

Live-Action: When her father unexpectedly dies, young Ella finds herself at the mercy of her cruel stepmother and her scheming stepsisters. Never one to give up hope, Cinderella’s fortunes begin to change after meeting a dashing stranger.

Cinderella is the classic fairytale. A girl with a loving family is suddenly forced to become an indentured servant until one fateful night when she catches the eye of a prince and they live happily ever after. And let’s not forget the iconic glass slippers and stunning ballgown courtesy of Fairy Godmother. I have to say that both adaptations do a great job sticking to this narrative. The live-action version features a special moment with Cinderella and her prince prior to the ball. This moment proves to be the decision to open the palace doors to every eligible maiden in the kingdom. I personally like this scene. It gives depth to both characters and allows for a bit more of a relationship between Cinderella and the prince, instead of having them fall in love at the ball with little to no idea who either person is.

As for the character differences, the live-action does a great job of giving more background to each character when compared to the animated version. The biggest character growth is, in my opinion, Cinderella. In the animation, she is very passive. There is always a smile on her face, she seems to accept the mental and emotional abuse that her stepmother gives her without much complaint. Also, there is a moment where I think she is a bit self-centered. It occurs when Fairy Godmother shows up to send her to the ball. Cinderella almost acts like she is waiting for a makeover every time Fairy Godmother does something magical. And then when she finally gets her dress she is more interested in watching her reflection than listening to the warning. I don’t know if the creators of the live-action were aware of this, but in the remake, the selfishness was gone. Cinderella was more astounded by the magic than by what she could possibly look like. She even wanted to wear her mother’s dress instead of a new one.

The prince has the second biggest character growth. In the animation, he is one-dimensional at best and only cares about looks. He picks Cinderella because she is beautiful and a mystery. He spends the whole night with her and doesn’t even know her name. In the live-action, the two of them have a meet-cute in the forest and we get to see how that affects him. His perspective changes because he met Cinderella. And then at the ball, he knows more about her and it is obvious to see that he is falling in love with her. 

The other characters get a bigger development in the live-action. The Grand Duke is greedy and selfish, a step down from his animation personality. Stepmother was discovered to have a terrible past and that could be a potential cause for her horrendous action toward Cinderella. We may never know unless Disney gives Stepmother her own movie. 

I would say that the music is kind of a wash for me. Most of the songs are relegated to background noise in the live-action and for the animated version, there are only three songs actually sung musical style. “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” is my favorite song from the Cinderella franchise, followed by “Lavender’s Blue” from the live-action.

Time to find out which version is my favorite… *dramatic cape flourish* The live-action. Cinderella wasn’t my favorite princess growing up because she always felt stuck. She got stuck as a maid, stuck as the mystery girl who has a size 4 foot, stuck as the prince’s bride. And yes I know that she got a better life, but the live-action version portrays that better. She doesn’t feel quite as stuck in the end. Add that to the fact that the live-action gave Cinderella a backbone doesn’t make her seem like a pushover.

Aladdin

Animation: Street-smart Aladdin and Princess Jasmine join forces to save the kingdom from the evil sorcerer Jafar. Along the way, Aladdin learns to believe in himself with help from a hilarious Genie… and three wishes that can change everything.

Live-Action: From Disney comes the thrilling and vibrant live-action adaptation of the animated classic Aladdin, the exciting tale of the charming street rat Aladdin, the courageous, self-determined Princess Jasmine, and the Genie who may be the key to their future.

Aladdin has an interesting history. The story of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, a story from The Thousand and One-Nights. The legend goes that there was this King felt so betrayed by his wife that he takes a new bride every night and kills her the next morning. Finally, Shahrazad becomes his wife. To save herself she tells a magnificent story only the ending is incomplete and she will tell the ending the following night. It is said that she told her stories for a thousand and one nights until the King fell madly in love with her and decides not to kill her. I haven’t read any of her stories but they sound interesting and it’s on my bucket list.

As for Aladdin itself, it’s not bad. A homeless boy catches the eye of the princess when she’s out for a walk in the market. He finds a magic genie by doing the bidding for the bad guy, gets three wishes, almost blows the entire kingdom up, then finally gets the girl in the end. Both versions keep to this basic plot, each version complete with its own flourishes and embellishment.

For me, the biggest and most dramatic character development came from Jasmine. In the animation, she is mostly passive with a few moments of a flared temper. In the live-action, she is more outspoken than passive and you can see the toll that pressure takes on her. By the end of the movie, Jasmine is a strong woman, capable of leading the kingdom in her father’s stead. The second biggest change is Genie. As we all know Robin Williams wasn’t around to be Genie in the live-action. So Disney went with Will Smith. I heard once that Smith wanted to make Genie his own, not be shoved under the enormous spotlight that Williams left behind, but take the greatness Williams left and add a Smith spin. I think he did a good job. It would’ve been an impossible feat to replace Williams so I’m glad that Smith didn’t even try. And in the live-action, Genie got himself a girl and two kids. In the animation, Genie makes a comment about how a good woman is hard to come by and that she should never be let go once she is found. It seems like he took his own advice. The addition of Dalia, Jasmine’s handmaiden, is Genie’s love interest. She is a great addition to the movie. Dalia acts as a sounding board, friend, and confidant for Jasmine and she adds a depth to Genie that was never achievable in the animated version.

Now onto the music. Personally, I prefer the music in the live-action version. It’s got more pep, I guess, to it, and even though I don’t like most pop songs I do like this stuff. Will Smith is also a great singer so his voice is a great addition to the Genie character. I also like how Jasmine got her own song in the live-action. I think her getting her own song only adds to her newfound power and confidence.

The moment you’ve been waiting for… I prefer… either, both. It’s a tie. There are moments where I like the animated version and for other reasons, I only like the live-action version. In the animation, I prefer Genie simply because it’s Robin Williams, but I prefer Jasmine in the live-action version.

101 Dalmatians/Cruella

Animation: Pongo and Perdita lead a heroic cast of animal characters on a dramatic quest to rescue their Dalmation puppies from the villainous Cruella De Vil.

Live-Action: Emma Stone stars in Disney’s Cruella, which explores the rebellious early days of one of cinema’s most notorious – and notoriously fashionable – villains, Cruella de Vil. Set in 1970s London amidst the punk rock revolution, the movie follows a young grifter named Estella and reveals the series of events that cause her to embrace her wicked side and become the raucous and revenge-bent Cruella.

The whole idea of 101 Dalmations was a crazed woman who wants a new fur coat from puppy dalmatians. Pongo and Perdita, two dalmatians, have fifteen puppies and Cruella wants to buy them for their coat. Since the puppies are not for sale Cruella has Horice and Jasper steal them and 84 other puppies. Pongo and Perdita use all of the dogs in London to find the puppies. Good wins and Cruella, Horace, and Jasper all go to prison. Cruella is a different story. It starts as a young girl with black and white hair who wants to be a fashion designer in 1970’s London. There is a new villain to her story with Horace and Jasper her “brothers”.

Now that we know more of Cruella’s story I can see that she has the biggest character shift, after her being Horace and Jasper. Cruella is an angry, fur-obsessed woman, who is a terrible driver. Estella, from the live-action, was a scared orphan. She lost everything and then tried to hold on to anything she could so she would never feel that loss again. After Estella turns into Cruella she becomes more cunning than angry, always has a plan, always has an angle. Still a terrible driver though. She says something that fits her story perfectly, “But people do need a villain to believe in, so I’m happy to fit the bill.” She knew that she was never going to win by being good, so she was bad.

Horace and Jasper––where to begin. In the animation, they were two dimwitted knuckleheads hired to kill 99 puppies. In the live-action, they’re thieves, henchmen, dognappers, but most importantly, brothers. Horace and Jasper were two thieving kids who met Estella near a fountain; they take her under their wing and teach her how to steal. Flash forward ten years and they’ve become a family, willing to do just about anything for each other. I must say that Horace has some of the best one-liners of the entire film. 

And of course, we can’t forget about the Dalmations. In the animation, they’re the heroes, while in the live-action, they’re cute sidekicks. This time, there are three dalmatians and two new additions––Wink and Buddy, street dogs. Their greatness is something you must witness for yourself. Don’t worry, no harm comes to any of the animals in the movie.

The music in both movies act as a way for the scenes to move along––present, but not forefront like in musicals. They help bring forth the emotions that are hidden in the subtext. Therefore, it doesn’t affect my vote very much… OMG. Just remembered Cruella’s signature song that Roger wrote. Both versions have that song. In the animation, Roger plays that song before Cruella comes into their home. In the live-action, Roger is humming a few bars at the very end of the movie, like after fancy credits end of the movie. Very cute scene, must stay on and watch. However, before that adorable scene, there is a much darker version to the jovial one from the animation. I prefer the dark version because it fits Cruella. Still not a big sway on my vote but definitely mentionable. 

If it isn’t already obvious, Cruella is my favorite. I just love how Disney is finally telling their stories. They are so much more interesting than the stories of the princesses. Princesses embrace the cliches while the villains break them with a sledgehammer. They’re bold and fierce and you can’t help but love them. I for one can’t wait for more villains to have their stories told.

And there we go. My views on Cinderella, Aladdin, and 101 Dalmations/Cruella. I had so much fun watching and rewatching these movies so I could share my thoughts with you. Thank you so much for sticking with me for this part 2. Hope I didn’t disappoint. No idea if there will be a part 3, that will just depend on how many more movies Disney remakes.

My name is Sydney. I am currently a Junior at Winona State University. I love to write short stories and fantasy stories. I am an avid Disney fan.
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