Disney’s Golden Age of animation ran from 1937 to 1942 and features the first five movies released by the Walt Disney Animation Studios. This was a time when people were not expecting animated films to be successful, but Walt Disney had a vision and he brought it to fruition. Unfortunately, the Golden Age ended because of the sacrifices necessary for World War II. But, the five films released during this time are remembered as some of the most iconic films Disney has ever produced. I’ve reviewed all five of them and now I’m going to rank them. This my list. It is completely subjective, so let’s have some fun.
This is my least favorite Golden Age film. Most of the characters were unlikeable, and some of the ones who were helpful to Dumbo were racially insensitive. If this film’s purpose was to make viewers hate the circus, then mission accomplished. But, beyond that, I really don’t like this film.
This film was an improvement on the formula used in “Dumbo.” Bambi serves as a figure with more agency. While we only see Dumbo as a baby elephant, we see Bambi grow from a fawn to an adolescent to a buck with a child of his own. This film is more complex, but it makes it easier to enjoy, in my opinion.
This is the film that changed the Disney formula. Instead of an established narrative, this film features several little shorts set to classical music. If you had asked me when I was a child, I would’ve said this is the worst Golden Age film. I didn’t care for it. As an adult, I can appreciate the effort involved in the music selection and performance along with the animation. I have a much greater appreciation for it now, but I only truly liked two shorts; “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” and “Night on Bald Mountain.”
2. SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS
This is the film that started it all. The very first Disney animated feature film and the very first animated feature film of any kind. It is the most important animated film of all time. It set the bar for others to clear. The film won an honorary Oscar for its achievement. All Disney fans should be grateful for this film’s existence. But, there are better Disney films.
This is my favorite film of Disney’s Golden Age. I think it has the best plot. “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Dumbo” and “Bambi” all have somewhat simple plots (some simpler than others.) And, “Fantasia” doesn’t have a single plot, but one for each short. I also think it has the best music of the time, even compared to some of the classic works heard in “Fantasia.” Plus, it gave us the most iconic Disney song, “When You Wish Upon A Star.” And, despite Disney’s reputation of princesses and their songs, the most famous was brought to us by a cricket in a top hat.
Well, that’s my list. We’re not all going to agree and that’s okay. What’s your favorite film of the Golden Age film? How would you rank these five films?