Disney, Pixar, Miyazaki and more of the biggest names in cartoons
The UAE is clearly in love with animations right now. In the past three weeks alone we’ve seen the release of Dreamworks’ Nicholas Cage caper The Croods, a revamp of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, colourful South African romp Zambezia, US 3D shoot ’em up Sky Force, and the crowning release of From Up on Poppy Hill, the latest from Howl’s Moving Castle creator Hayao Miyazaki. To celebrate, we’ve looked back to compile a list of our favourite animations ever.
10 Bambi (1942) Directed by David Hand Having your tear-ducts surgically removed is probably the only state where one would manage to get to the end of Bambi without weeping like a baby. Adapted from Austrian author Felix Salten’s novel, the film is still one of the most empathetic yet coldly direct screen portrayals of death in the history of cinema.
9 Robin Hood (1973) Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman Disney’s Robin Hood in a list of greatest animated films? It rarely even makes the list of greatest Disney films. Yet the rough look of the film is in keeping with the beat-up cowpoke narration of Roger Miller’s Alan-a-Dale, who links the well-worn vignettes of outlaw life with steel guitar and Johnny Cash burr.
8 Belleville Rendez-vouz (2003) Directed by Sylvain Chomet French animation has always tottered between the sublime and the downright strange. Both ends of the spectrum collide in this delightfully retro cycling yarn that switches effortlessly back and forth through the gears from weary Gallic insouciance to frantic, jabbering mayhem.
7 Yellow Submarine (1968) Directed by George Dunning No movie on this list is so completely off the chain as the Beatles’ wonderfully skewed journey through the pop-art mayhem of Pepperland. Released during the height of the psychedelic movement, it could have easily become a hippy-dippy cash-in, but the film takes great care to stay true to the spirit of the Beatles and never drifts off into weirdo-beardo pyrotechnics or mello-yellow flower-power noodlings.
6 Spirited Away (2001) Directed by Hayao Miyazaki A brilliant, bold movie that defies easy description, while at the same time being utterly approachable and easy to enjoy. All the Miyazki staples are in place; what nudges the movie into the realms of genius is the utter faith in its own imagery, allowing each frame to hum with poignancy, wit and drama.
5 Toy Story (1995) Directed by John Lasseter The first and best full-length CGI feature film, Pixar’s crown jewel is so close to perfect that it feels almost cynically exploitative. Shoe-slappingly funny and box-fresh original, this hearty tale of a gaggle of toys and their jaunty suburban odyssey back to their owner’s toy box is an outright delight.
4 Fantasia (1940) Various directors Viewed as a stone cold classic these days, Disney’s high-falutin’ frolic was such a commercial dud at the time of its release that it put the future of the entire studio in jeopardy. A landmark achievement known chiefly for Mickey Mouse’s breathlessly hubristic turn as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Fantasia sets a selection of classical music pieces to delirious, avant-garde animation with astounding results.
3 The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie (1979) Directed by Chuck Jones and Phil Monroe Okay, so it may not be a feature film per se, but this theatrically released compilation of Looney Tunes’ greatest hits still deserves a place on this list. Introduced – by Bugs, of course – as a scholarly investigation into the appeal of chase movies, it manages to cram in all of the best Bugs and Daffy Duck cartoons from the post-war period, plus a dizzying 15-minute compilation of Roadrunner sketches.
2 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) Directed by David Hand Known at the time as ‘Disney’s folly’ for its lengthy production schedule and vast budget, Snow White may not have been the first feature cartoon (that honour goes to Argentinian animator Quirino Cristiani’s El Apóstol), but it’s undoubtedly the most influential: the fact that a huge number of animated movies are still packed with cutely anthropomorphic animals, winsome love songs, plucky heroines and handsome princes isn’t proof of how little the medium has developed, but how much Disney and his team got right their first time out.
1 My Neighbour Totoro (1988) Directed by Hayao Miyazaki The film that first brought Japanese maestro Miyazaki to international attention remains an animated achievement almost without parallel. While younger viewers will adore the movie’s cute furry creatures, including the house-sized Totoro and the 12-legged cat-bus, adults will perhaps best appreciate the film’s delicate rendering of atmosphere, and its attuned understanding of the anxieties and wonders of childhood. What’s more, the lack of sentimentality will be utterly refreshing to those raised on a diet of Disney.