Walt Disney Animation Studio has produced 60 films over the years, since their first feature film in 1937, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfsto their new Oscar-nominated film Encanto, which was released last November. Depending on when the movie was released, Disney has categorized its movies into a specific era: The Golden Age (1937-1942), The Age of War (1943-1949), The Silver Age ( 1950-1967), The Bronze Age (1970-1988), The Disney Renaissance (1989-1999), Post Renaissance Era (2000-2009) and The Revival Era (2010-Present).
Perhaps the best-known eras are the Disney Renaissance and the Revival era. In the era of the Disney Renaissance, princess movies like The beauty and the Beast, The little Mermaidand Pocahontas came out, while Revival Era presented the new films of Frozen, Moanaand Ralph’s Wrecks. The Wartime Era was their least popular, with almost every film released during this era being virtually unknown today. It wasn’t until the Renaissance and post-Renaissance that Disney studios started releasing more movies that are still popular today. In fact, many films from these two eras were adapted for live-action films such as Aladdin, The beauty and the Beastand Mulane. While all of the movies released by Disney Studios are worth watching, you’ll want to know more about the different eras and the best movie to watch from each.
The Golden Age: 1937 – 1942
The golden age of Disney studios marks the transition from short to feature film. In addition to an already successful studio, Disney Studios decided to move from their popular whimsical symphonies to Technicolor feature films lasting an hour to an hour and a half. With the introduction of these feature films, the old style of producing multiple shorts slowly died out.
As the first feature film produced by Disney Animation Studios, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), is one of their most notable films to date. The story is adapted from a Brother Grimm’s story of a similar plot. Using both songs and the spoken word, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was also the first animated work to use the multi-plane camera to create the illusion of three-dimensionality.
War era 1943 – 1949
The Wartime era was aptly named because it was the time when America joined the war. Due to most writers being written, the films purchased at this time were mostly anthologies. By producing anthologies, Disney Animation Studios was able to reduce the cost of producing movies. Unfortunately, this era was one of the lesser-known Disney eras with only a handful of movies released.
One of the anthologies produced at this time is The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949) which adapts two literary classics: The wind in the willows by Kenneth Grahame and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. This semi-scary tale combines these two separate segments into one hour-long film.
The Silver Age 1950 – 1967
The Silver Age is also known as Disney’s Restoration Era or Post-War Era. Regardless of the name, this era is characterized not only by the return to blockbuster films but also by visual innovation. Bright backgrounds and colors are used to give films from this era a more magical feel. Ordinary scenes are lit and enhanced to add charm and warmth. The goal was to continue to reduce production costs while speeding up the film release process.
The sword in the stone (1963) is one of many films produced during this era. Despite the poor reviews from critics, this film was actually a box office success. Combining song, bright colors and humor, this film is full of interesting lessons while being enjoyable to watch. It was also the last movement to hit the market before Walt Disney’s death in 1966.
The Bronze Age 1970 – 1988
In the Bronze Age, Disney decided to deviate from classic storylines based on fairy tales and books and move on to new, original storylines. While it was a new and exciting time for the future of Disney Studios, this era was also known as the Dark Ages as it directly followed the death of walt disney. The original storylines seemed like a good idea at the time, but ultimately didn’t go down well at the box office. The scripts were new and interesting, but the budgets were among the highest of any of their films.
Perhaps one of the most expensive Disney films has been The fox and the hunting dog (nineteen eighty one). Critics praised this film’s acting and animation, but said it wasn’t groundbreaking enough. The film was a box office success regardless and was considered one of the best Disney films that Walt Disney himself was not one of. It is one of the Disney films whose popularity has increased over time, making the film more popular later than when it was initially released.
The Disney Renaissance 1989 – 1999
In the next era, The Disney Renaissance, Disney returned to its roots by returning to adapting classic fairy tales into animated films. They still used some techniques learned in the Bronze Age, but eventually decided to return to simple plot structures, story adaptations, and songs.
Known as one of Disney’s darkest films, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) incorporated all the characteristics of the Disney Renaissance. The dark subjects of torture, religious persecution, lust, and even genocide make this film stand out among others from this era. To offset the dark subject matter, comic relief in the form of three talking gargoyles contributes to the film’s success. The anthems included in this film such as God Help the Outcasts and Hellfire help show the diversity of dark and light themes.
Post-Renaissance period 2000 – 2009
In the post-Renaissance era, films have changed plot and visual styles to create stories that touch on family, personal growth, and finding one’s own identity. After the success of the Disney Renaissance era, Disney Studios had high hopes for the post-Renaissance era. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned as many movies from that era flopped at the box office. Dinosaur (2000) was Disney’s first film to be shot in real locations, as opposed to the studio, and was digitally generated with prehistoric dinosaurs. This film was also a hybrid of live action and animation styles. Of all the films of this eraDinosaur brought in the best at the box office.
The Revival Era 2010 – Present
The age of revival is the age we find ourselves in today. It’s a mix of all the styles, themes and ideas from the history of Disney animation studios. After the unexpected news of the post-Renaissance era, Disney was able to revive its name with the success of its early films from that era. As of now, there’s no official word on a new era for studios.
Tangled (2010) adapts the story from Rapunzel in a fun, action-packed movie. Tangled is the most expensive Disney film ever made with a budget of 260 million. The film actually spent six years in production to make it one of the most well-known of that era.
Vin Diesel took to social media to tease the start of production on Fast 10.
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