What Strange Connection Do All These Disney Animated Movies Have in Common?

We always think of Disney movies as films for children, and often the younger ones at that. But as they are riddled with tragedy, the likes of which William Shakespeare would have written for a grown up audience, I am sure that many of these films leave youngsters asking a lot of questions at the end of the movie.

I love the movie Frozen and by the record box office sales, so does everyone else. When I watched it I noticed something that ties it in with many of the previous animated movies produced by Disney; a central plot device in these films is the death of a character or characters leaving the protagonist/s as orphans or adopted out to mean relatives.

The continued obsession with death is shown by the antagonist’s attempt to kill the protagonist, or someone else important to the plot of the story being gravely ill and dying, or actually dying along the way.

For many, when they think of Disney they think of princesses, but after you take a look at this list I compiled of the Classic Era up to Disney’s first decline in popularity (1937-early 1980s), Disney Renaissance (1989-1999), the Second Decline of Disney (2000s) and the Resurgence of Disney (2010-now), I’m sure you’ll be looking at Disney in a whole new light.

And yes, if you haven’t seen any of these films and are still looking forward to seeing them, take this as a SPOILER ALERT.

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6 thoughts on “What Strange Connection Do All These Disney Animated Movies Have in Common?

  1. Correct! Disney has movies with death.. For children… There is also racism, being bullied and superiority(by this i mean the snobby upper class people who look down on the main character)… All of which, are dealt with in real life… But it isn’t just that.. Disney has stories to relate and portray the life of children in unfortunate circumstances… and its like listening to classical music… though you wouldn’t pick it… classical greats aren’t always (arguably at all) about the best day in the world or happiest times, and they carry story’s….through to ANY language and any age… It has a different impact but it is story telling.. The music can be dark and gloomy to signify a hard time, and at times bright and sharp with stabs to represent shock or anger, pending on context and note etc.. And this is educational for anyone from birth til deaf… So it’s not about the initial death, racism or being the bully or superior one itself.. It’s about the philosophy of dealing with and understanding that these things are in life.. And that it’s not nice to be that person but life goes on and redemption, Justice and a happy life is an option.. If your child is frightened or scared of these moment’s.. Good they are meant to be… Being nasty isn’t nice or rewarding… In those movies the bad guy, NEVER wins.. Death is awful, I agree and when to reveal these things to our children is up to our own discretion… But Disney movies go on to say it will be alright in the end.. There are hard times in life… Why hide it… We will send our children into shock if they don’t know whats out there and it hit’s them… Its why we tell stories.. Its why we write books.. It’s why music exists… To deal, cope and help others to deal and cope with life… Our children are only as smart as the teacher teaches them to be…. Just keep that as food for thought… I’m not telling anyone to rush death into your child’s life… Just merely pointing out that Walt Disney was Methodical, Children was genuinely his life…

    “Walt Disney was very insistent that the designers take the perspective of young children into account when designing the park. Because of this, Walt would frequently stoop down while looking at a partially constructed building to take into account how smaller people would see things.”
    This man went to great lengths to put himself in the children’s perspective and know what was good for his children and the children to watch his movies and set foot in his park.

    My questions to you who oppose the education appearance of death in children’s movies is these..

    Have you done research into the effects of the exposure?
    Did your parents shield you from this exposure? If not..
    Did your life have any negative responses to the exposure?
    Do you have a clear and concise memory of the effects of watching these movies the very first time from that perspective?
    And lastly. In your honest opinion.
    Can you think of any positives to exposing your son or daughter to these educational appearances of death, being bullied, racism and superiority from the main character’s point of view?

    I thoroughly enjoyed these movies and some of them held great significance for me as a child. I saw myself as the main character. they even helped me deal with issues of my own.

    I hope this help’s you in your decision for or against your child’s exposure to death in children’s movies
    Thank you for reading.


  2. Jeremy,

    I wholeheartedly agree with many of the points you have made. We recently acquired some hatchlings (day old chickens) from our youngest son’s preschool where the fertilised eggs were put in place to show the children the wonders of birth and new life.

    We took three of them home and after a few weeks one of them died. We don’t know 100% sure why it is that this one died but we’re fairly sure that the other two picked on this one because it was the smallest of the three and there’s the possibility that the other two might have excluded it from eating as much or drinking as much as they do.

    But both our boys, the 5 and a half year old and the younger one who turned 3 just days ago know that the chicken died and that there was a cause of his death. Our youngest has a theory that possibly a cat got to the chicken or scared him to death. That’s pretty remarkable for a not yet 3 year old (as he was then) to work out.

    Now I am not shielding my kids from these movies and just reading my first page introduction to this I am not commenting either way nor suggesting that it is a bad thing, and based on the sales of The Lion King DVDs and more recently the box office takings, merchandise and DVDs sales of Frozen, my guess is no one is stopping their children from watching these.

    I like your thinking though; should you come across a blog where someone is suggesting that these movies shouldn’t be shown to children, go at them hard and attack them with all your force. Copy and paste what you wrote here. There’s some great points.

    Thanks once again for your comments and I look forward to reading more of your comments should you seem fit to comment on more of my posts.


  3. Interesting post! We just went to see Big Hero 6, another film which is kinda death city (parents died pre-movie, another death early in the film and grief throughout). Terrific movie though, probably useful for teaching about loss and how it’s cool to be into science.

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