My Disney Top 5 - Disney Romancesby Chris Barry, contributing writer
Valentine's Day is just around the corner. Rose prices have crept up. Boxes of chocolates are stacked in just about every store you venture into. It's the season of love. Then again, it's pretty much always the season of love isn't it? After all, love makes the world go round. Love will keep us together. Love is the drug. Love is all you need. Love will make you quote The Captain and Tennille and John Lennon in the same paragraph!
I stand here proudly and announce to you, my loyal readers, that I am, in fact, an unabashed and fairly hopeless romantic. One might take it a step further and say that I am, in fact and in many ways, a total sap when it comes to romance. Some of the things that I do get pretty sappy about, unsurprisingly, are the plentiful romantic moments that feature prominently in Disney's legendary canon of animated films. I can't help it and I won't apologize for it. Disney does romance well. They always have and I imagine that, based on their success, they always will. Everyone likes a good romantic moment and we Disney fans have so many to choose from throughout the company's cinematic history. So, in honor of the upcoming holiday of love, let's take a look at my Top 5 Disney Romances.
5 – George and Meg from Paperman
I'm expecting to get some mixed reactions to this animated short even making my list over the likes of Cinderella and Prince Charming, Aladdin and Jasmine, or even Lady and the Tramp, but I will defend this choice to the end. With no dialogue at all, the creators of this film were able to capture that moment when you first see someone that you just can't get out of your head and know you never will. The main character struggles to get his dream girl's attention and when the magic paper takes over, I love how it never gives up until it has, in fact, brought them together. It's beautifully animated and one of my all-time favorite Disney shorts. We don't get to see how the romance pans out, but it doesn't matter. This short perfectly captures the magic that happens at the beginning of a romance. As an audience we can only hope that these two made it.
4 – Belle and Beast
Beauty and the Beast is a magical film in so many ways. From the very first notes of Belle, the opening musical number, you know you are in for a treat. The music, the animation, the characters, and the story all combined to bring audiences in 1991 to their feet in applause.
What makes the story of Belle and Beast such a true love story is the fact that they are essentially enemies when they first meet. Beast is not the handsome prince that sweeps Belle off of her feet. It isn't love at first sight and Belle isn't standing by, swooning, waiting for a prince to kiss her. As she remains trapped in the castle, she begins to uncover the real person hidden beneath that beastly appearance. They become friends. They grow together, and peel back the layers to uncover the truth as they gradually get to know each other. As the song says, "Barely even friends, then somebody bends, unexpectedly." Their dance in the ballroom is one of the most endearing moments in Disney's vast animated history.
3 – Wall-E and Eve
Leave it to the geniuses at Pixar to turn two robots into a completely believable romantic couple—and all with essentially no dialogue between them. After being alone for hundreds of years and watching way too many classic romantic films, Wall-E is finally given someone to love when Eve arrives on Earth. Consider what he goes through just to be with her and you begin to see that even inanimate objects can find love in the Disney universe. Wall-E and Eve's dance through space is about as romantic as anything that two humans have ever displayed on film.
2 – Eugene and Rapunzel
I'm such a huge fan of Tangled. It's beautifully animated, the songs are fantastic, the characters are memorable, and it really is a wonderful story. The beauty of Eugene and Rapunzel as a couple is that they both save each other. Their lives are forever changed for the better just by meeting one another. Once again, much like Beauty and the Beast, this is certainly not a "love at first sight" story. They start off as very antagonistic towards each other and as they move through their adventure together, they begin to let down their guard. They change and realize that what they want and what they need is right in front of them.
There's a moment in the "I See the Light" scene where Rapunzel is staring off at the beautiful lanterns floating so elegantly over the water. She's waited for this moment her whole life. She stops and pauses and has the "light bulb moment" that Eugene is the one for her. She turns around and he's holding a pair of lanterns, one for each of them to release. That whole scene, one of my favorite romantic scenes in any film, is as pure as Disney magic gets.
1 – Carl and Ellie
What's amazing about the opening sequence of Up is that an entire love story and life story is told with no dialogue in just about five minutes. When it's finished, you become completely engaged and invested in this couple's long beautiful life together. It's an extraordinary piece of storytelling. You see them meet as kids and become friends. They fall in love and build a life together. They go through the painful hardship of not being able to have children and yet, they persevere and decide to make their life an adventure together. Life's little obstacles stall their dreams and yet, it's still the simple moments of cleaning the house together that show you just how much they truly do love one another and want to be with each other.
It's the pain and sorrow the audience feels upon Ellie's death that sets us up for the whole premise of the film. At that point, we would follow Carl anywhere he needed to go to make that dream come true. Towards the end when he experiences heartbreak again and then finds the photo album, he realizes that Ellie already had her adventure. There life together as a couple was the adventure. What could possible be more romantic than that?
It seems that when I was compiling this list, I decidedly left off the "love at first sight" and "love's first kiss" stories that made up Disney's early days. It's certainly romantic when Cinderella meets her Prince Charming and gets everything she's ever wanted and deserves. However, I felt like these choices were a little more, I hate to say realistic, but that's the best word I can use for my choices. Carl and Ellie ring true to me. Despite the whole magic hair thing, so do Eugene and Rapunzel. George and Meg could be anyone. The Beast and Belle certainly fight like a couple in love. Wall-E and Eve? OK, Wall-E and Eve aren't exactly realistic but the unlikeliest of couples finding themselves together is a theme that I can definitely get behind.
Love grows. Love sometimes takes work. It's not always so easy, but it's always worth it in the end. This list plays to the aforementioned sap in me, but for the most part, they are also stories of well-developed love—love that has overcome some obstacles and thrived, and to me that's truly the best and most real love of all.
As I said before, Disney certainly does romance well. It's a persistent theme in any great work of art. Disney, in particular, has always been able to sell you on true love's first kiss just as easily as they can make you believe that robots and lions and dogs feel the same passion for each other that people do. It's really one of the things that Disney does best. I guess that's why an old romantic sap like me became such a big Disney fan in the first place.