#9: “Shrek 2” and the Status of Animated Sequels

Can you think of the last time you saw a sequel that was really really good? Like better than the original? (Try and exclude adapted literary works because that’s cheating.) Now try to think of the last good animated sequel you saw. If you’re like me, this just keeps getting harder. With the mind-blowing exception that is the Toy Story franchise, I’m hard-pressed to think of a good animated sequel. Most of the older animated sequels ended up going straight to VHS/DVD/Blu-Ray, particularly the Disney Princess sequels. Suffice to say, straight to DVD essentially means that they are dead on arrival for me.

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#7: A Re-Evaluation of “Snow White”

This past week in class, we watched the first animated feature film, Die Abenteur des Prinzen Achmed (The Adventures of Prince Achmed). Directed by Lotte Reiniger, it premiered in 1926 and was revolutionary in its use of the multiplane camera and cutout animation. “The multiplane camera was used to give an illusion of depth to traditional 2D animation. To achieve this, pieces of artwork were moved past the camera at various speeds and at various distances. Some areas of artwork were left transparent so that layers below could be seen behind them” (Cavalier, pg. 89).

Fast-forward eleven years and you’ve reached Walt Disney’s first feature-length animation film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Seven DwarfsThe film was wildly successful both commercially and critically. It has gone down in animation history as a major advancement for the medium due to Disney’s work in combining rotoscope and hand-drawn animated characters, complex color palettes, real human feelings over the whole emotional spectrum and expansive landscaping through multiplane cameras.

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