Words by Misha Fabian
As a kid, I grew up watching Disney movies. I memorize a great many of them by heart and I don’t mind watching them again and again. I guess that’s the beauty of those kinds of movies–they never age. Watching them is like being transported into your childhood again and you see the world with all sorts of wonder and awe. With that, I offer you 10 of my favorite Disney Original Animated films (sorry, Pixar) and the valuable life lessons that they teach.
Apart from having catchy tunes (hello, I’ll Make a Man Out of You?), witty repartee from one of the most beloved sidekicks in Disney history, and the quest to protect both her family and her country, Mulan imparts us with a valuable lesson: it’s totally okay to be different. Mulan was unlike other girls in her village–made evident by her visit to the Matchmaker at the beginning of the movie. This does not mean she was any less of a person and she soon proved that she was more skilled in other areas by going on to fight the ruthless warlord Shan Yu and save all of China.
9. The Princess and The Frog
Despite being one of the more severely underrated Disney original animations, this movie proves itself time and time again to be a gem. Apart from being the first African-American Disney princess, Tiana breaks away from the usual stereotype for Disney princesses by showing that sometimes, you just can’t rely on fairy godmothers, magic spells, or a prince to come and make your dreams come true. Sometimes, you need hard work and determination in order to reach your dreams.
Perhaps one of the more controversial Disney animated films, Pocahontas paints a very clear picture of the social divide and harm caused by racism. Luckily, we live in a time where people are more accepting of one another regardless of race, gender, or social class. Nevertheless, the film always serves as a reminder to accept and love the people around us in spite of our differences because doing so would make the world a better place. Bonus points for Colors of the Wind which Pocahontas sings to John Smith in order to teach him about valuing nature for what it is and not for what he could gain from it.
7. Lion King
Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba! The opening song of one of Disney’s most popular movies of all time sets the tone for an action-packed, rollercoaster of emotions thrill ride that keeps the watcher glued to the screen from start to finish. Lion King is peppered with tidbits of wisdom all throughout the film but perhaps my favorite one is the line that Rafiki throws Simba when they talk about his past: “The past can hurt, but the way I see it you can either run from it or learn from it.” It reminds us that a fresh start can be found once we look for one and our pasts, no matter how painful, can help us be better in the future.
6. Lilo & Stitch
Disney is a fan of creating unlikely friendships and this movie is the perfect feature of such a tandem. Experiment 626, or Stitch, as he is more fondly known, lands on Earth one fateful night and ends up at a dog pound where he is soon adopted by Lilo. What happens next is a heartwarming series of events that show how family (or, as Lilo calls it: ohana) is when no one gets left behind–even when you are not related by blood.
5. Beauty and The Beast
Speaking of unlikely friendships, the one in Beauty and the Beast blossomed into something more. Belle, yearning for more than just her provincial life, has her life turned upside down when she falls captive to the Beast in his castle. The Beast, who was once a handsome prince, had a curse placed on him and the members of his household for his cruelty towards an old woman. Because of this, he was determined to start anew and show that he really had changed for the better. Eventually, the two fall in love and the curse is reversed, proving that love really is more powerful than any spell and that we must always try to find the good in others.
4. The Little Mermaid
Ariel probably accurately depicts the struggle of teenage girls everywhere who just want to be a part of something bigger and be permitted to go out and chase their dreams. While I do not advise defying authority and placing yourself in very tricky, possibly dangerous situations (In fact, please don’t do that), I do hold on to this movie because it serves as a reminder to hold on to your dreams and do whatever you can do to reach them.
A WHOLE NEW WOOOOOORLD! A dazzling place I never knew! Full of color and life, Aladdin takes us on a magical carpet ride to the land of Agrabah and beyond and it is a beautiful reminder of how we should go out and see the world, explore all we can out of it, and drink in every experience we possibly could.
2. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Another one of Disney’s more controversial films because it tackles the sensitive topic of religion, The Hunchback of Notre Dame packs some pretty powerful punches in the area of social justice. Set in 15th century France, the film showcases the beauty of the Notre Dame and brings light to the struggles of the marginalized classes- especially those of Quasimodo, the hunchbacked bell-ringer of Notre Dame, and of Esmeralda the Gypsy and her people. Quasimodo sings a beautifully powerful song called Out There where he sings about how normalcy is a gift that many people seem to take for granted while Esmeralda yearns for divine providence in God Help the Outcasts. They are aided by Captain of the Guard, Phoebus, in their quest to protect the Gypsy community even though he was under threat of death. Overall, the movie teaches us to always choose to do what is right, even if the cost would be great.
Bless my soul, Herc was on a roll! This movie is a personal favorite of mine, thanks to its play on Greek mythology and the journey that Hercules undergoes to make himself a true hero. The character development that Herc has throughout the film is astounding, from thinking that a true hero merely lies in the acclaim and praise given by other people to realizing that a hero is someone who goes above and beyond for other people in order to give them a better life–even if it means risking your own. According to Zeus, “A true hero isn’t measured by the size of his strength, but by the strength of his heart.”
What’s your favorite Disney movie? Comment down below!