Even the creators of the most classic kids’ movies had to rip themselves off from time-to-time. A viral tweet has demonstrated what many animation experts and historians already knew: Disney (and other animation studios) frequently copied existing scenes from some movies and just reused them with minor character changes in others.
A fascinating side-by-side video of several scenes from Disney movies is making the rounds on social media. In it, you can clearly see the exact same movements from The Jungle Book paralleled in Disney’s Winnie-the-Pooh, down to the exact same way that Christopher Robin and Mowgli both throw their rocks over a cliff. The initial tweet from Fred Schultz has garnered thousands of responses, including several people pointing out similar duplication techniques in other Disney movies, and also, within different animation genres entirely.
Here’s the video:
Is this scandalous? Should you rethink your childhood? Hardly. Before the advent of computer animation, it’s important to remember – and remind our children — that animated features were hand-drawn. Also, by the 1960s and 1970s, Disney was not exactly the stalwart of animated classics we think of today. In fact, in 1984, Michael Eisner was dead-set on doing very few Disney animated movies altogether, mostly because of the immense amount of resources required to draft new animation. One early ’80s Disney film — The Great Mouse Detective — was produced on the tinniest of production budgets, but surprisingly resulted in becoming a huge hit. In fact, if it weren’t for the success of The Great Mouse Dectective, some historians believe that we would have never entered into the “golden era” of Disney movies like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast.
What does this have to do with Disney ripping itself off? Well, the larger point is, creating feature-length cartoons in the era before computer animation was expensive as hell and time-consuming. We tend to think of Disney as a huge money-making children’s media empire, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t cut costs where they could. So, if you’re watching this side-by-side viral video with your kids, the lesson shouldn’t be about Disney being unoriginal. Instead, it’s all about animators being innovative, and figuring out how to make something new by working with what they had.