Lessons from Disney movies

I grew up in the 1990’s; the height of the Disney Renaissance. The time when Disney surged with a new movie every year. Each one was just as good as the last. I have decided to look back at those films, plus other Disney movies, and write a few sentences on what I learned. I will not be listing every Disney movie; that would be a long blog post. I reserve the right to skip over some films.

1. The Fox and the Hound (1981) – This was one of my favorites growing up. At the time, I thought it was a fantastic tale about friendship. Now, I think it is still about friendship, but also about growing apart from childhood friends. However, no matter how far you drift apart, you can always count on an old friend to help save you from a bear.

2. Oliver and Company (1988) – Everyone deserves a home. Everyone will eventually find a place where they belong and are loved. Even if that place is slightly dysfunctional and perhaps dabbles in illegal activities.

3. The Little Mermaid (1989) – Sometimes a person wants and needs to leave what they know. The desire to experience something new is in all of us. Occasionally, getting the new we want means leaving behind the old that we love.

4. Beauty and the Beast (1991) – Love will happen when you don’t expect it. You can’t spend your time wooing someone who does not return your affections. Love is much more natural. If two people are meant to be together, they will meet. Then they will fall in love, despite outward appearances and some personality flaws.

5. Aladdin (1992) – Another of my favorites. This is another movie that teaches about love occurring where it is not supposed to. This time, Disney took that theme to occur between two social classes. I also think the movie is about being true to yourself. You will still be able to get what you want without pretending to be what you are not.

6. The Lion King (1994) – You cannot outrun your past or who you are meant to be. The past can be painful, but it already happened, so why spend time worrying?

7. Pocahontas (1995) – Again, the story of love between unlikely people. This time Disney broached the subject of race. However, there are other lessons to be learned. Such as being true to yourself and following your heart. Your heart will always lead you in the right direction.

8. Toy Story (1995) – I was never a fan of Toy Story. The only thing I got from the movie was an obsessive need to save my old toys because I didn’t want to hurt their feelings. Since, you know, they come alive when my back is turned.

9. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) – This movie almost strays into the unlikely love scenario, except that the titular protagonist does not get the girl in the end. It is a movie about acceptance. No matter a person’s appearance or background, they deserve to be treated like any everybody else.

10. Hercules (1997) – I think the ultimate lesson I got from this movie is that everyone has a place where they belong. Also, you do not need Godly powers to do great things. The main character does not have any strength when he saves the love of his life. At that moment, he is an ordinary person, able to accomplish the impossible.

11. Mulan (1998) – Ah, the girl power movie. That pretty much sums up the movie. One unlikely hero(ine) can save the day. And be respected for who they truly are as a person.

12 Tarzan (1998) – I think the message to take from this movie is about family. Accept your family and love other creatures on the planet. Be ready to defend those that you love. Also, have the strength to adapt to new situations.

13. Lilo and Stitch (2002) – Family does not have to fit a specific criteria. Any group of people, and aliens, who care for each other make a family. “Is little, and broken, but still good.”

14. Finding Nemo (2004) – As we enter the Pixar realm, the messages and lessons become more complex. There are also more in every film. In this one, I think the most important is to never give up. No matter your goal, be it to swim the ocean or clog a filter, never give up until you finish.

15. Ratatouille (2007) – Never be afraid of going for your dreams; even if other people tell you not to chase them. Even if your dream is completely opposite of what is expected of you in life, you should try to achieve the goal. You might just turn out to be great.

16. Wall-E (2008) – Is the save the planet message too obvious? Yeah? I thought so. Anyway, I also took from the movie the lesson to be yourself and never change. If you are yourself, people will be drawn to you.

17. The Princess and the Frog (2009) – Again, the theme of following your dreams and finding true love apply. The message I took is that I need to go to New Orleans to hear more of their music.

18. Up (2009) – This was the movie that got me thinking about all of this. I read a post where a person posited that the lesson was to chase your dreams and go on grand adventures in life. I disagree. I think the lesson in this movie is to appreciate the small things in life. Even if you never go on a grand adventure, life is an adventure itself. We should all enjoy the journey. “The boring stuff is the stuff I remember the most.”

19. Tangled (2010) – This movie had all the classic lessons: follow your dreams, find true love and be yourself.

20. Toy Story 3 (2010) – I stated above that I was not a fan of Toy Story. I saw the sequel, but hardly recall what happened. This one, however, really got me. Perhaps it is because I’m the same age as the character and was in the process of cleaning out my old bedroom when I saw it. The message I took from this movie is that we all have to move on in life. It is sometimes painful and difficult and we resist. The lesson, though, is that we still have to move on and change. Eventually we do have to say goodbye to the things of our childhood. We keep the memories forever, but physical objects are transient in our lives. We cannot hold onto something forever. Eventually, we all need to let go of something.

That is my list. My lessons that I learned from Disney movies. There are many others, but I did want to keep this post short. Not that I accomplished that. No matter, I still had fun writing this. It made me realize how much of my personality, morals and values stem from Disney animated films. So, if you don’t like who I am, you now know what to blame.

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