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Saturday Matinee

Disney Cartoon #33, Freaky Friday Week: Disney's "It" Moments (1923 to Present)

By Pedro Hernandez

Hello, my name is Pedro Hernandez and I am substituting Albert Gutierrez for the week! You know me as the writer of Gamer Tuesday. I also happen to love movies. It was the Disney animated classics that made me both the movie and Disney fan I am today. While preparing for Freaky Friday week's special Saturday Matinee, I ran into a peculiar, but fun, problem: deciding what to write about.

Walt Disney Studios has created so many amazing films and shorts that it is quite challenging to pick just one to discuss. Initially, I was thinking of writing about my favorite 'Silly Symphonies' shorts. But as I was listening to 'A Whole New World' for the billionth time, a thought struck me, turned into an idea, and materialized into today's topic: The 'It' Moments of Disney Animated Classics.

What is an 'It' moment and how can we recognize it? An 'It' moment is a scene or shot that gives the story its identity. 'It' is everything the story stands for and the emotions that inspire the audience. They come together perfectly, leaving a breathtaking and unforgettable image for the audience to cherish. A film can also have multiple 'It' moments, especially if they are used to indicate the development of a character or the story. Once the story is over, 'It' is the scene that keeps people talking. The 'It' moment is often so powerful that filmmakers and the publicity department use it to best promote the film to the audience. There are many examples of 'It' moments in film: the opening to Blake Edwards's Breakfast at Tiffany's, Jack and Rose's 'flying' scene in Titanic, Gene Kelly's rain dance in Singin' in the Rain, and countless others. With Disney films, they manage to be more magical when it comes to 'It' moments captured on film.

Let's start with the 'It' moment that inspired this article: 'A Whole New World' from Aladdin. To this day, it remains one of my favorite Disney songs and scenes ever put on film. I had been enchanted by Disney films growing up, but this scene truly captured my imagination. The song, written by Alan Menken and Tim Rice, is perfect in its execution. The melody 'soars' as the characters take flight beautifully across the many lands, which adds a lot of magic to an already engaging scene. It also happens to be a very romantic scene.

I am a hopeless romantic, so it should come as no surprise that many of my favorite Disney 'It' moments are the romantic scenes between the main characters. The simplest of them all is the romantic dinner in Lady and the Tramp. It takes place on a very familiar setting: a dinner at a restaurant. But the way it is presented and developed is very captivating. You may just see two dogs eating spaghetti, but it blossoms into a couple whose love has finally come into fruition. The effectiveness as an 'It' moment has been such an inspiration that many movies and television shows have both mocked and paid tribute to the film, such as Charlie Sheen's Hot Shots Part Deux and the Fox television series Glee.

Another romantic scene I really love is the ballroom scene from Beauty and the Beast. Just like Lady and the Tramp, the scene has become one of the most iconic in film. It is where all of the film's elements, from the animation to the music, come together and gain a lot of strength, presenting us a scene in which beauty finally tamed the beast.

Of course, 'It' moments don't always have to be romantic; they can feature the main character coming to a powerful realization or finally obtaining what he or she has deeply desired. One of my favorites is Cinderella's transformations in her titular film. Analyzing this scene alone would mean a whole new article, but it is filled with a lot of symbolism and metaphors, all related to Cinderella's past, present and future.

The Little Mermaid's 'Part of Your World' is also a remarkable 'It' moment regarding character development. Up until this point, all we knew about Ariel is her very curious sense of adventure, creating a lot of hurdles between her and her father, King Triton. When we reach this scene, we see that Ariel is really a soul longing for a better life, one away from all the prejudices of her own world. She wants to explore a new one filled with possibilities. The grotto and the collection it holds are a representation of the dreams Ariel has and Ariel's song carries a big role in the scene. It puts into perspective the abstract feelings Ariel is experiencing, and does so in a memorable way that provides exposition without needless dialogue. Everything we need to learn about Ariel as a character is put forward in this scene, quickly giving us a heroine to root for.

Finally, as previously mentioned, a film can have multiple 'It' moments, especially if those moments are used to present the development of a character through the passage of the story. The Lion King holds the best when it comes to that type of 'It' moment. The 'Circle of Life' scene ends with the memorable presentation of Simba to the kingdom. Right around the end of the second act, Simba receives advice from Mufasa, a scene which has also become synonymous with the film's legacy. But my favorite of the bunch is the ending. After everything Simba had endured, he finally stands triumphant on top of Pride Rock and the kingdom is re-invigorated by the presence of its one true king.

This is merely a sample of the best 'It' moments Disney has produced throughout the decades. I could easily go on about each and every one of them, and why they have been so implanted into our minds. Not only that, each person walks away with a different 'It' moment, some even different from the popular moments. That's where you come in! Post your favorite moments here and why you love them so much!


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