Saturday, June 28, 2014

Shakespeare Saturdays: In Disney

Our last Shakespeare Saturday discussed the movie adaptations of Shakespeare plays. This week, we'll discuss how the plays have snuck their way into the most beloved Disney movies of our childhood. Believe it or not, there are an abundance of references to Shakespeare in these classic animated films and today I'll disclose just a few!

1. Beauty and the Beast. This is my favorite Disney movie and when I caught the reference to Romeo and Juliet in an added scene I loved it even more! At the end of the added song, 'Human Again', you can hear Belle read the last lines of Romeo and Juliet's epilogue: "There never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo." At this moment, the Beast asks her to read it again and you can hear her state, "Two households both alike in dignity..." It's a sweet moment between the characters and is a reflection of their relationship.

But that's not the only one in Beauty and the Beast! During the fight song when the villagers are getting ready to kill the beast, Gaston says, "Screw your courage to the sticking place," the same lines Lady Macbeth states to her husband in Act I Scene VII as she encourages him to pluck up the courage to kill the king.

2. Aladdin. This is undoubtedly one of the funniest Shakespeare references! After Aladdin asks Genie to make him a prince, the Genie is suddenly dressed in a toga and laurel wreath with a dagger and says, "Et tu Brute," the same thing Caesar says to Brutus in Act III Scene I of Julius Caesar.

3. Oliver and Company. This film of lovable mutts features Francis, the high brow bulldog, who in one scene is caught watching a television production of Macbeth. His monologue, one of Shakespeare's most famous, from Act V Scene V, "Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow" is heard from the television. These words mirror the plot of the movie, the dogs are awaiting the impending arrival of the film's evil antagonist, Sykes.

4. The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Fittingly to the themes of this film, Disney's darker animated movie contains a references from The Merchant of Venice. Victor, a gargoyle, says to Quasimodo, "Yet if you kick us, do we not flake? If you moisten us, do we not grow moss?" These lines are modeled after Shylock's famous speech in Shakespeare's play: "If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?" This play is an appropriate one to fit into The Hunchback of Notre Dame because it focuses on conflict between Christians and Jew while the movie focuses on conflict between Christians and Gypsies in France.

5. The Little Mermaid. Another allusion to Romeo and Juliet! During the boat scene where all the animals are trying to convince Eric to kiss Ariel, Scuttle says he needs to perform a vocal romantic exercise. He starts to squawk a version of Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet instrumental.

6. The Lion King. This is perhaps the most obvious Shakespeare reference because the story is just that of Shakespeare's Hamlet. Mufasa and the King are both killed by their brother, Scar and Claudius respectively. Then their son, Simba and Hamlet, is visited by his father's ghost and is led astray by a duo, Timon and Pumba from The Lion King and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern from Hamlet. The endings are the same, too. Simba and Hamlet both return to avenge their father's deaths and take their throne back. Thankfully, Nala has a very different fate than that of Ophelia.

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