Disney, in its infinite wisdom, has transformed some of its beloved classics into live action films. Our cinemas have recently received Maleficent, Cinderella and The Jungle Book. Luckily, the joy does not stop there. Disney also has Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson, Cruella starring Emma Stone and Dumbo in the works. Live action adaptations provide the Disney company with a unique opportunity to reinterpret some of their most iconic heroes and heroines, and create backstories for more misunderstood characters. Disney classics are reinvigorated through this medium, which proves storytelling is ever evolving. A story can be told and retold, and continue to deliver something new to audiences.
As a lifelong supporter of the Disney company, I have decided on my top five picks for Disney live action films we all need. Since the live action adaptations have not included original songs yet, I have also mentioned songs I would love to see in these adaptations. After all, Disney encourages people to dream.
A kickass leading lady is always a good idea. Mulan is certainly kickass, but a Mulan adaptation would be a double win because it features a Chinese female war hero. Asian cultures are sadly under-represented in popular culture. When Asian characters feature in film and television, they are typically limited to Asian stereotypes. Asian women in particular are usually reduced to an “exotic” presence. Mulan would kick these tropes out of cinemas and showcase all the wonders of Chinese culture and history we have been missing. The potential popularity of this film is evidenced by its success when it came out in the ’90s and the love audiences gave to Mulan in ABC’s Once Upon A Time series.
After I wrote this, my editor pointed out to me a Mulan adaptation is already in the works! Nevertheless I have left it here at the top of list as a mark of my support and anticipation.
I have chosen Pocahontas for similar reasons as Mulan. It is about time the stories of the Native American Indian people were told in a respectful and accurate way on screen by Native American Indian people. Just like Mulan, an adaptation would provide an opportunity to explore the culture, and allow talent within the Native American Indian community to come forward. While a film depiction of the myth of her life as opposed to a historical account does not fix issues of representation or excuse centuries of Pocahontas’ westernization, it is at the very least a step in the right direction.
Song I cannot wait to see performed: Colours of the Wind
3. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Disney severely Disney-ified the original plot to Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame. In the original text Phoebus is a dick and Esmerelda dies. Whether a live action film would stick to the original text more strictly or to their family friendly version remains to be seen. Either way it is a beautiful story. The Disney film does not shy away from very mature themes including Folio’s creepy and sexual fascination with Esmerelda and racial discrimination. The Gothic setting of the Cathedral, as well as the dramatic chorus numbers would set this film apart because it portrays a darker side of Disney. But let’s be honest for a minute, I really want this adaptation because I have always wanted to be Esmerelda and play the tambourine.
Song I cannot wait to see performed: God Help The Outcasts
Disney does magic unlike any other entertainment company in the world. That is why it needs to step up and make a live action film of Aladdin. Genies, flying carpets, magic lamps, the Cave of Wonders will open a whole new world on screen. I will once again reiterate my thoughts mentioned above that seeing Middle Eastern culture on screen is important, as well as casting accordingly. It would also be an aesthetically beautiful movie to watch, and it has a fantastic soundtrack.
Song I cannot wait to see performed: Prince Ali
Finally, I think it is about time the world had an epic Ancient Greek myth come to life on screen. Recreating Zeus and other larger than life Gods and demi-gods would be a challenge, but one that Disney is more than able to achieve. Hercules would be a fun movie to re-adapt because it is not as well known as other Disney classics. It would be bigger surprise for audiences to watch and gives Disney room to play around with the plot because audiences are not as attached to the original characters. However, one thing is not negotiable, and that is the Greek chorus. Hercules would be incomplete without these sassy muses narrating the story in song.
Song I cannot wait to see performed: I Won’t Say I’m In Love
6. Honourable Mention: The Little Mermaid
Everyone loves Ariel because everyone wants to be a mermaid and have epic ’80s red hair. Nothing would please me more than to see Ariel’s water wonderland and her mermaid tail in live action. The only reason why it did not make this list is because an adaptation is in the works, but not by Disney.
I dream of being part of world where these two live action adaptations live side by side.
Song I cannot wait to see performed: Part of Your World
All the movies I picked have three things in common: they would provide an opportunity for cultural representation, they have an abundance of source material to use as creative aids and they are all magical and beautiful in their own right. No matter what films Disney continues to adapt, I will always be eager to see how the original magic is portrayed in live action and relive the joy of seeing Disney classics for the first time all over again.