Being born before 2000 has it perks – tonnes of classic Disney movies that shaped my childhood. While I (begrudgingly) admit there are some pretty good newer ones, animated Disney movies just don’t feel the same anymore. This is probably nostalgia talking, but you get what I mean. There is a faint memory of my cousins and I building ‘caves’ with pillows and blankets, and roleplaying as lions after watching The Lion King (we were young enough to do that). But, regardless of age, here are some classic Disney movies everybody should watch at least once.
Ah, Tarzan. Phil Collins did a brilliant job with the song, “You’ll be in my heart,” for this movie. Similar to The Jungle Book, we follow the life of another boy raised in the jungle. But this time, the adoptive family are gorillas. A father-daughter explorer duo enters the jungle in hopes of observing and studying the gorillas. Unfortunately, an illegal poacher is disguised as their security guard and takes over the operation once Tarzan shows them the gorillas’ nests. This is another movie that calls for tissues.
Pocahontas is the name of the main character, the lovely lady pictured above. This is essentially a story of colonisation. Captain John Smith, her love interest shown here too, is part of the English group that arrived in search of a new place to live. Pocahontas’ father is Chief Powhatan, leader of their tribe, who is fiercely defensive of his people, especially his daughter. Forbidden love arises between Pocahontas and Captain John Smith, and trouble comes along. Meeko the raccoon, Flit the hummingbird, and Percy the pampered pug become Pocahontas’ friends and allies.
The Lion King, 1994
How many of you can sing along to the opening song albeit knowing none of the words? The Lion King is easily the Disney classic that tops our must-watch list. The story revolves around a lion named Simba and his journey to become the rightful king. Along the way, lovable characters like Timon (a meerkat) and Pumbaa (a warthog) are introduced. You can also watch an emoji version of the animated film below for a cute summary.
Poor boy meets rich (actually, royal) girl and they fall in love. But of course, there are bad people who stand in the way of their love for individual agendas. Jaafar is the villain in this movie, accompanied by his cynical pet parrot, Iago. Aladdin finds a magic lamp that houses a genie who grants him three wishes, as genies do. With the help of Genie, his pet monkey Abu, and a flying magic carpet, we follow Aladdin’s journey to rescue Princess Jasmine from Jaafar’s clutches.
The Little Mermaid, 1989
“Under the sea, under the sea. Darling it’s better down where it’s wetter, take it from me,” you sing as you read this out loud. If you don’t know the tune, it’s high time to find out! The Little Mermaid follows the story of a young mermaid princess named Ariel, who falls in love with a human prince and trades her voice for legs to get closer to him. It is a tale of love, choices, and consequences punctuated with plenty of memorable sing-along songs.
Robin Hood, 1973
Disney did a foxy spin on the tales of Robin Hood and of course, it’s on this list. True to the original fairy tale, our fox version of Robin Hood is a highly skilled archer and swordsman who steals from the rich to give to the poor. There are scenes of folk dancing, poverty, and prisoners jailed for failing to pay the ridiculously high taxes. Our hero’s love interest, is also a fox by the name of Lady Marian. It is a tale of courage, love, and nobility.
The Jungle Book, 1967
Another Disney classic that’s getting a 2019 remake is The Jungle Book. Mowgli is an orphan who was raised by wolves in the jungle. Shere Khan is a tiger who’s notorious for killing people. When he finds out that there is a man (Mowgli) in the jungle, he begins hunting him immediately. Along Mowgli’s journey, he meets Baloo the bear, and Bagheera the panther. Other notable characters include an orangutan named King Louie, elephant named Hathi Junior, and Kaa, a python.
This lovable baby elephant is the star of the show himself, Dumbo. Born with extraordinarily large ears, he was made fun of and teased by people and animals alike. His mother goes berserk trying to protect him, and ends up locked away in isolation. An unlikely ally appears in the form of a mouse, and helps Dumbo unlock his special gift of flying. Prepare tissues because this one will tug at your heartstrings! This beloved Disney classic is in fact getting a Tim Burton remake set to release in 2019. Watch the Dumbo 2019 trailer here.
Seen above is Geppetto, woodcarver and creator of Pinocchio. Geppetto has always wanted a child of his own, hence the creation of Pinocchio in the likeness of a little boy. When he wishes upon a star, Pinocchio comes to life and goes about his days as a regular child. Jiminy Cricket, a literal cricket, acts as a guardian angel-cum-advisor of sorts to Pinocchio and tries to teach him right from wrong. Besides the magical phenomenon that is a puppet coming to life, Pinocchio’s nose also grows longer every time he lies; a reference still used for liars.