Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Dreaming of Disney

Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather! If you watched Disney movies as a child, you may know that they’re the three good fairies in Sleeping Beauty. When the Disney Channel ran the movie in December, I taped it to watch with my husband.  He’d never seen it, and I had fond memories of seeing it as a child.

When we were kids, a Disney movie came out, you saw it, and that was it until it was shown at the theaters again several years later. Yes, there was life before videos.  And we less fortunate children of the 50’s and 60’s had to survive on our memories and the Disney books that helped keep those memories fresh.  Instead of binge watching a video of Sleeping Beauty, I thumbed through a book with beautiful illustrations of Briar Rose, Prince Charming, the three good fairies and the evil fairy Maleficent.

When I heard Once upon a Dream sung by Briar Rose aka Princess Aurora I couldn’t stop smiling, and it’s been in my head for several weeks now. A girlfriend reminded me that it was Disney who introduced many of us to classical music, and sure enough, when I googled the song, I found that the words were set to the Garland Waltz from Tchaikovsky's ballet The Sleeping Beauty

Along with Sleeping Beauty, originally released in 1959, there are three Disney movies I associate with my childhood: Cinderella, Snow White and Dumbo.  I enjoyed Lady and the Tramp, Bambi and 101 Dalmatians, but I have the strongest memories of the first four. I suspect my fondness has to do with the release schedule for Disney’s older movies. A movie like Cinderella, originally released in 1939, would be re-released every few years for a new crop of youngsters, and these four must have come along in my formative years.

I recall my middle sister and I especially loving the movie mouse Gus in Cinderella because our father’s name was Gus, and he was sometimes a bit plump just like the mouse. We had that book too.  I don’t remember having a Snow White book, but I remember seeing the movie with some cousins when we were visiting relatives in the South, and I have a vivid memory of one of my older cousins being taken out of the theater in tears because she was so frightened by the evil Queen. Between the stepmothers in Cinderella and Snow White, is it any wonder that stepmothers have gotten such a bad rep?

It was Dumbo that brought me to tears.  Years later, I cried again when I saw it on TV as an adult.  Can you recall the scene where Dumbo’s mother has been locked up and the only way mother and child can hug is when she stretches her trunk out between the bars to nuzzle him? That’s the one that gets me.

 Just thinking about all the Disney movies I’ve enjoyed is bringing a smile to my face.  Though I didn’t see every single one at the theater, I saw snippets of most on Disney’s Wonderful World of Color on Sunday nights when our whole family gathered ‘round the television. Those were the times I saw Pinocchio, Peter Pan and who knows what else. Have I made you smile?  Are you dreaming of your favorites right now?

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