YouTuber Ralph Bagay counts down the 5 most influential Disney films in his life.
#5. The Emperor’s New Groove
The Emperor’s New Groove shows a unique side of Disney storytelling (thanks to production problems) as it boldly ditches the songs and the romance to focus on the humor. On paper, it sounds like a Disney folly but it’s surprisingly clever, well-thought-out, and genuinely funny. All that without forgetting the tried-and-true Disney heart. The way the story unfolds feels random yet everything works out nicely in the end. A breath of fresh air, this offbeat buddy comedy never fails to entertain me despite countless viewings. It’s a distinctive departure from the Disney formula and that’s exactly what makes this rare film memorable.
#4. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Hunchback of Notre Dame makes the list because of, wait for it, Judge Claude Frollo. He is easily one of Disney’s most memorable albeit underrated villains. Arguably the darkest and most evil, what makes Frollo even more disturbing is that he’s a human being. He doesn’t need powers nor use magic to appease his selfish desires. Heck, someone like him could be living next door. This film is also proof that animation is not just for kids and must therefore not be treated as a genre. It is an art form and it can tackle serious contemporary issues such as religion, corruption, social injustice, and even lust.
#3. The Lion King
The Lion King is wildly considered to be Disney’s crowning achievement due to its roaring success. Puns aside, all of the elements that make up an animated tour de force come together perfectly in this masterpiece. People were in awe the moment they heard the Zulu opening verse of “Circle of Life,” cried when Mufasa died, fell in love with the songs, laughed with the sidekicks, cheered for the villain, and rooted for the protagonist as he faced relatable life challenges. It is as moving as it is entertaining and it taught me to learn from my mistakes instead of running away from them.
Dumbo is a beautiful example of a good, simple story told in a good, simple way. It’s easily my personal favorite from the Walt-era Disney animated films as it delivers the universal theme of soaring high (literally) despite adversities without forcing it on the viewers. Truly, less can be more as this timeless film continues to inspire generations with its “nothing can bring us down even if our big ears are extra… big” message within 64 minutes.
Aladdin has been and will always be a special film to me. I remember watching it for the first time when I was a mini-rockstar and called it the greatest film ever made. You can’t blame that kid. The visuals, the songs, the characters, the story – everything about it shows why filmmakers make films and why we enjoy films. The best part? It taught me that like a lamp, “it is not what is outside but what is inside that counts.” Rest in peace, Genie.