Saturday, June 8, 2013

Top Ten Saddest Disney Moments

Some of These May Make You Cry

By the time Walt Disney got to "The Jungle Book," the final film which bore his personal fingerprint, he knew how to make animated films like nobody before or since. Against opposition from his own animators, Disney told his writers to take the basic Rudyard Kipling tale and lighten it up until the story was more family-friendly. The result was an animation classic, one of Walt Disney's biggest hits. It has withstood the test of time and was the pinnacle of the Disney legacy.

Walt Disney wasn't born with this knowledge, though. Year after year, film after film, he learned hard lessons about what the audience would accept, what would make it laugh, what would make it cry, what would leave it indifferent.

Being a wise man, Walt knew that you don't always keep everything light and fluffy. Sometimes, the biggest moment of a picture, the one that really reaches an audience, must follow something sad and even tragic. It doesn't have to be a death, and indeed some of the most emotional moments just involve a simple display of normal feelings. The audience appreciates that cathartic release, and this magnifies an ultimately pleasant outcome. The Disney studio carried on Walt's legacy after his untimely death, and its animated films have followed Walt's guiding principles. Accordingly, there have been spectacularly sad moments since, but it all stems from the man himself.

Herewith, a list of the ten saddest moments in Walt Disney animated films.

#10 Shang of "Mulan" Dies

Mulan Shang
Mulan and Shang.
In the original "Mulan," Shang and Mulan seem to be getting along quite nicely at the end. In "Mulan II," however, Shang must let go of the rope that he and Mulan are hanging from over a canyon in order to save Mulan. They had broken up by this point, but he still made the ultimate sacrifice for his true love.

#9 Kerchak Dies in "Tarzan"

Tarzan Kerchak
Tarzan and Kerchak.
In "Tarzan," Kerchak, Tarzan's "father," never really accepted Tarzan as part of his family, but Tarzan finally proves himself. Kerchak, with almost his last breath, finally calls Tarzan his son. This galvanizes Tarzan into action, and his retribution is terrible and swift.

#8 John Smith Must Leave Pocahontas

Pocahontas John Smith
John Smith and Pocahontas.
In "Pocahontas," Pocahontas has fallen in love with John Smith, but fate intervenes when he is shot. Smith must leave, and their love never is consummated. There was a sequel, "Pocahontas II," that had a resolution that wasn't a whole lot happier.

#7 Cinderella's First Dress is Destroyed

Cinderella dress
Cinderella and the ruins of her first dress
The evil stepmother in "Cinderella" doesn't want any competition for her awful daughters at the King's Ball, so she has them destroy any chance that Cinderella has of attending. The step-sisters tear up Cinderella's dress that took so much time and effort by Cinderella's friends to make.

#6 Eric leaves Ariel for Vanessa in "The Little Mermaid"

Prince Eric Vanessa
Prince Eric and Vanessa.
Ariel of "The Little Mermaid" has met Prince Eric, but Ursula, who gave Ariel the opportunity to meet him, wants the prince for herself. Eric is hypnotized by Vanessa's voice, which is Ariel's because Ariel gave Ursula her voice as part of the bargain. He decides to marry Vanessa, and Ariel cannot object because she has no voice. Believe it or not, the Hans Christian Anderson short story on which this is based is a whole lot sadder.

#5 Quasimodo Pelted By the Crowd in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame"

Quasimodo The Hunchback of Notre Dame Disney
Quasimodo of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" at first is a big hit at the annual Feast of Fools, but then things go tragically wrong for him. He is tied down and pelted as he cries to Frollo for help. Even after he is released, though, his humiliation deepens as the crowd disdains him as he runs back to the cathedral.

#4 Snow White's Rest in "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs"

Snow White sleeping Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 1937 Disney
Snow White sleeping.
Snow White in "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" is laid to rest after having the Evil Queen's poisoned apple, the dwarfs thinking her dead. They are so sad and love her so much that instead of burying her, they put her in a glass coffin for all eternity. The sadness of this scene sets up the cathartic kiss by the prince.

#3 The Pound Scene of "Lady and the Tramp"

Lady Tramp pound Disney
The pound puppies.
Lady of "Lady and the Tramp" is sent to the pound by mistake. When she gets there, she is terrified at how the dogs cry and whine, hoping for a way out. She ultimately is rescued, but the sight of cuddly puppies maltreated is a very sad scene.

#2 Dumbo and his Mom

Dumbo mother Disney
Dumbo and his mother
"Dumbo" loses his mother after she is imprisoned for having lost her temper in defending Dumbo. Later, lonely, Dumbo seeks out his mother in her cage, and she comforts him. This touching scene was accompanied by the epic Frank Churchill/Ned Washingon song "Baby Mine."

Dumbo Disney

If that sequence doesn't bring a tear to your eye, nothing in a Disney film ever will. World War II Four-Star General "Vinegar Joe" Stillwell wrote that viewing "Dumbo" soon after Pearl Harbor was his happiest moment of the war, and he likely was thinking of this scene.

#1 Bambi Cries

Bambi crying
The hunters in "Bambi" send the forest animals out on a wild goose chase. Bambi's mom, however, hears a sound and warns Bambi to run and not to look back no matter what happens. What follows is the most shocking moment in any Disney film and, because of the context, perhaps in all of cinema. In this disturbingly dark scene, Bambi realizes what happened to his mother.

Bmbbi Disney


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