The Walt Disney Company is responsible for some of the most recognizable music of the 20th and 21st centuries. From “When You Wish Upon a Star” to the recently Oscar-nominated “How Far I’ll Go”, they’ve put out so many great albums, and have more platinum albums (20, according to the RIAA search function) than Led Zeppelin (18), Madonna (17), or Bob Dylan (15). Kids around the world learn the lyrics to their favorite songs, from their favorite movies– every girl knows the feature song for their favorite princess, at least.
But that’s not what we’re talking about.
A John Williams Moment is a moment in a film that is carried by the music. The last time I talked about these, I talked about the man himself, and that was easier to some extent. That’s because John Williams moments are generally not musical numbers (there will be some exceptions in the list, but bear with me for now). Disney, on the other hand, is the champion of the movie musical, more so than most other studios. This means that many moments of high emotional impact are sung– “Let it Go”, for example, or “Part of Your World”. That’s not a John Williams moment. Luke looking out at the binary sunset contemplating his future and dreams, that’s a John Williams moment. But given this is Disney, some of the following “moments” are more full scenes/sequences. Here are what the rules will be:
- It has to be something that Disney put their name on. This list will not have PIXAR (they deserve their own list), LucasFilm (kinda covered that in the last post), Marvel (they don’t really have great scores), or Touchstone pictures.
- If there is singing, it will not be by a named character (that is, one named on screen), at the very least. Disney has some great choral scores and I want to recognize that tradition.
- There will be some live-action, a lot of animation, and one from the park. That’s not really a rule, more of a statement.
As before, this will be in chronological order, because my brain hurts just picking only 15.
valeriemclean1919 Disney, Frozen, Moana, Niccolò Machiavelli, Robin Hood, The Lion King, The Prince, William Shakespeare About Film, About Writing 1 Comment
Niccolò Machiavelli was the name in political theory during the Renaissance. His most famous book, The Prince, was all about the tactics of rule. But his most famous quote, “It is better to be feared than loved”, is not really what he actually wrote. The full quote is “I conclude that since men love at their own will and fear at the will of the prince, a wise prince must build a foundation on what is his own, and not on what belongs to others.” That doesn’t quite mean the same thing. And the book doesn’t just describe princes, many early-modern republicans embraced Machiavelli’s ideas as well. But nevertheless, the narrative emerges of the scheming prince that takes power wherever they can. But that’s, of course, not always the case.
One author who really embraced Machiavelli in his storytelling was William Shakespeare. Some of his most famous leads are Machiavels– Richard III and Macbeth, to name a few. But not all of them were villains. Henry V is one of Shakespeare’s more heroic characters and is clearly cut from the Machiavellian pattern. The narratives here are not about the tactics inasmuch as they are bout the characters of each of the kings. Richard III and Macbeth both make the mistake of killing the wrong people and their personal flaws get in the way of total rule. Henry V, on the other hand, has had two previous plays to iron out these flaws and “when this loose behavior I throw off / And pay the debt I never promised, / By how much better than my word I am, / By so much shall I falsify men’s hopes” (Henry IV part 1, I.ii.77-80). Henry V’s problem is that he is inheriting an illegitimate crown and has to legitimize it during his reign. Which he does by waging a nothing war with France and marrying their princess. This is a very popular option, and Machiavelli was in favor of princes being popular, saying that “[a prince] must do all in his power to escape being hated”. But the English narrative surrounding leadership isn’t about the same things that the American narrative is.
In America, the narrative surrounding leadership is about earning the right to lead, sometimes through Machiavellian means. This is because America doesn’t have the same relationship with the “ruling class” as England does, obviously. American narratives are also quicker to villainize Machiavels than English narratives, because English narratives don’t necessarily require their leaders to earn the right to lead. The rightful leaders are rightful from the beginning. In American narratives, you have to earn the right to lead, and using Machiavellian tactics to rise to the top might be entertaining (see the US version of House of Cards), but is nit necessarily heroic. Henry V is going to be king, legitimacy or no. Whether or not Kevin Spacey becomes president is part of the tension of the show.
So what does any of this have to do with Disney?