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FAIREST ...AND THE SCARIEST OF THEM ALL - Page
KenNetti's "Disney Dungeons" supplements the 6-page tribute of "The Fairest ...and the Scariest of Them All" by concentrating on the rarely dealt Disney bondage art - the authentic artwork that really exists in Disney cartoons, comics and movies.
A R N I N G :
& Other Horrors
On the six pages of The Fairest ...and the Scariest of Them All KenNetti has described and analysed the legendary abandoned subplot to Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). On the previous page - Part I of the "Disney Dungeons" - we already gathered evidence that Walt Disney did not shy away from abusing his toon characters heavily if the story demanded it.
Our journey through the "Disney bondage" continues by hopping from the comics and short cartoons to the feature-lenght animated movies that are generally known as the "Disney Classics". Especially here it is worth noting that while the usual bondage art has always concentrated on subjugating females, the majority of distinctive bondage in Disney Classics has more often victimized male characters.
Distinctive bondage - to subjugate human characters - didn't enter Disney's feature-length animated movies until Peter Pan (1953). This didn't prevent, however, the use of depriving the freedom of several characters already in Pinocchio (1940) - the first movie after Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Even though Disney's Pinocchio is usually called a sanitized version of Collodi's original tale, plenty of traumatizing abuse and victimization ended up into the movie. When Pinocchio is captured by the sinister Stromboli and locked into a small cage, the heavy taunting and threatning of the little wooden boy is only a step away from real child abuse. The same horrors continue when the Coachman of Pleasure Island heavily threatens the naughty boys who have not fully transformed into donkeys. And if all this is not enough, Pinocchio's father Geppetto gets metaphorically captured when swallowed by Monstro the whale. Starvation awaits the poor old man and his pets inside the belly of a monster. Luckily, it is Pinocchio who comes to the rescue and makes an ultimate sacrifice.
Regarded by many as a true masterpiece, Fantasia (1940) took many controversial steps in Disney animation - including both male and female nudity and even nipples on topless female harpy. The movie's powerful and highly provocative climax "Night on Bald Mountain" does not feature bondage, but a huge cast of tortured souls, subjugated by the "hunky" Chernabog.
Dumbo (1941) was Disney's first feature-length animated movie to include subjugation by bondage, although the victim was an animal - Dumbo's mother, an elephant. However, these were probably the heaviest chains and manacles ever to subjugate a character in Disney movies. The next movie, Bambi (1942), continued shocking audiences in the authentic Disney style, but without bondage or deprivation of freedom. The next animal to be tied up was the wolf in "Peter and the Wolf" segment in Make Mine Music (1946). True "toon bondage" entered into the Disney Classics with the underrated masterpiece Song of the South (1946). Although Song of the South combines live action and animation very beautifully, the movie has an extraordinarily infamous legacy - including the highly criticized, "too violent" comic book adventures of Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox and Brer Bear. Just as in one of the movie's animated segments, the cartoony but quite human-like Brer Rabbit continued to be captured in comics - tied up tightly for some culinary cooking by Brer Fox and Brer Bear - but always surviving thanks to his wit or another rescuer.
In the wonderfully atmospheric "Mickey and the Beanstalk" segment of Fun and Fancy Free (1947) the hilarious giant called Willie captured a female magic harp with Donald and Goofy, forcing little Mickey to save day. Yet no bondage was used in this imaginative mini-masterpiece. Melody Time (1948) introduced "Little Toot", a small tugboat who got into big trouble; his segment did include a slight amount of chains and manacles for the very cartoony ship characters. A gloomy prison scene was included in The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949). As the toad character makes his escape from the prison, he plunges into a river, with his foot still chained to a heavy iron ball. This particular scene - the toad struggling desperately to get to the surface (and the scene ending before he succeeds) - is a chillingly realistic forerunner to the shocking drowning attempt featured in Aladdin (1992).
Heavy psychological abuse was used on the title character of Cinderella (1950), but bondage would not have fit into this beautiful adaptation of the famous fairytale. In Alice in Wonderland (1951) card soldiers and rose painters - all male characters - were dragged to be beheaded by order of the Queen of Hearts, but in less dramatic setting than was originally planned.
The next animated feature, Peter Pan (1953) brought distinctive bondage into the Disney Classics. The movie included several young children to be first captured by the Indians and later by the pirates. Heavier bondage used by the pirates included also mouth gags. The Lost Boys and the Darling boys were the first human characters to get tied up in animated Disney Classics. Noteworthy is that they are all male characters; the Indian princess Tiger Lily became the first human female character to get tied up in Disney Classics. Captured by Captain Hook, the princess was tied to a heavy anchor, threatened (to reveal Peter Pan's hiding place), and ultimately left to drown with the tide. Luckily, Pan comes to her rescue in the nick of time - and by returning her to the Indian village he also saves the lives of the Lost Boys and the Darling boys, who are all tied to a stake and threatened to be burned at sunset. Later when Wendy and the boys are kidnapped by the pirates, Wendy chooses to drown (or to be eaten by a hungry crocodile) in stead of joining the pirates - and she is the first to walk the plank, hands tied behind her back.
Though it all sounds gruesome, the Disney version of Sir James Barrie's classic tale includes a hefty dose of breezy humour which turns the suggested child bondage and child abuse into a most sincere, grand adventure.
Excluding the title character, nearly everyone else in Disney's original Peter Pan got captured, threatened, or at least severely assaulted by a hilarious crocodile. But in the surprisingly mature and touching sequel Return to Never Land (2001) Peter himself gets to experience the threatning "anchor treatment" in the hands of Captain Hook. While the Lost Boys are again tied to the mast of the pirate ship, Peter is attached to a heavy anchor with his hands cuffed behind his back. Although not specifically tortured, Peter is treated rather roughly in this scene, by dropping him (with the heavy anchor) onto the ship's deck from a significant height. He is forced to walk the plank, but gets rescued by the true hero of the movie. Although Return to Never Land differs highly from the original 1953 classic by its strongly philosophical darker tone, it has the same breezy humour - and great character animation - to keep things not sliding into too serious direction.
Lady and the Tramp (1955) continued the typical dog "bondage" with collars, muzzles, chains and a dog pound representing a gloomy prison. The next movie, however, brought back some of the basic ingredients of the abandoned "Captured Prince" concept originally planned for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It was the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty (1959) which has been widely acclaimed for its artistic whole - and widely underrated by the critics who refuse to admit that the movie has one of the best adaptations of the lame basic fairytale told separately by the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault.
Disney's Sleeping Beauty continues the true Walt Disney legacy of not being a childrens movie. The highly stylized visuals, the gorgeous music, and the more witty aspects of the script make the movie more appealing to adults than to children. The movie does have a quite predictable title character, a blank rags-to-riches sort of princess cliché, but the movies strength lies behind a surprisingly well-written part for the hero, Prince Phillip - whose character could be easily seen as a grown-up version of Disney's Peter Pan. Prince Phillip is much more the victim of the story than the cursed princess. He is an innocent bystander who gets involved with the clash of two opposing forces of human nature - good and evil - and becomes a true hero. In Disney's version the prince meets the princess deep in the forest and falls in love with her without knowing who the girl is (somewhat similar to Ella and the prince meeting in MGM's The Glass Slipper, 1955).
In the abandoned subplot for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs the Prince, who had fallen in love with the lovely Princess, was to be imprisoned by the Evil Queen and was to endure humiliation and heavy torture before his miraculous escape. All this surfaced in Disney's Sleeping Beauty storyline, in which the evil fairy Maleficent captures Prince Phillip to prevent him from rescuing the cursed princess with a kiss. However, Maleficent has a totally different agenda than Snow Whites wicked stepmother; the evil fairy is going to release the prince after 100 years, letting the 120-year-old bearded geezer awake the 16-year-old sleeping princess with True Loves Kiss. Thus, the evil fairys revenge would be a most perfectly diabolical one - but totally unfair to Phillip. Thus Phillip has a deeply realistic motive to fight against the inequity of Malegficent's revenge - not only because of the princess, but more importantly to free himself from the fate he doesn't deserve.
The initial capture of Phillip features some of the most heaviest bondage in Disney Classics - and the scene itself is still one of the most frightening (especially for those first-time viewers who think they are watching a harmless, pink princess cotton candy film). The surprise assault on Phillip is astoundingly cruel and violent, even though the majority of battering is presented only through sound effects, supported with an evil grin on Maleficent's face. The goblin-like henchmen overpower Phillip, tie him up in a neat package with his hands behind his back, and gag his mouth tightly. (It's worth to note that even though the gag is removed in Maleficent's dungeon, Phillip doesn't utter a word during the rest of the movie).
In the dungeon the heavy bondage of ropes is changed to mere manacles on Phillip's wrists and ankles, chaining him to the wall - but definitely not as cruelly as was planned for Snow White's Prince. The imprisoned Phillip is able to sit down and stand up with his chains.
As was planned for Snow White's Prince being taunted by the Queen, also Phillip gets heavily teased by Maleficent. The evil fairy reveals the entire diabolical plot to her prisoner. Phillip learns the royal identity of the girl he has fallen in love with - and gets twice as furious, but ultimately far more desperate than Maleficent dreamt of. As the captured Prince in the abandoned subplot for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, also Phillip needs help to get out from the dungeon - and luckily the three good fairies come to the rescue.
While the dungeon scene in Maleficent's domain does not feature such extensively cruel torture of the prince as was planned for Snow White, even these Sleeping Beauty dungeons hide some deep dark secrets. The original 1957 walk-through attraction of the Sleeping Beauty Castle in California's Disneyland contained somewhat more controversial miniature dungeons where Maleficent lurked amidst torture devices such as the "rack" and the "wheel". Eyvind Earle's preliminary sketch for this scene features also human figures strapped, chained and tied up on these terrible torture contraptions.
Disney's animated masterpiece Sleeping Beauty marked the end of an era. 101 Dalmatians (1961) featured a cruel woman who didn't care how the puppies for his fur coat were killed - but the overall Disney product of the 1960s and 1970s was becoming more and more "harmless" entertainment for the entire family. The Sword in the Stone (1963), The Jungle Book (1967), The Aristocats (1970) and Robin Hood (1973) all had huge emphasis on humour and bright music - even though the latter did include a gloomy prison sequence with lots of chained toon animal characters. One memorable piece of imaginative Disney bondage, however, was seen in the live-action musical Babes in Toyland (1961) in which the dashing Tommy Sands got shrunken, gagged and tied up with gift-wrapping string. Threatning to shrink the helpless victim even more, the villain (played by legendary Ray Bolger) tried to extort a marriage from the beautiful Annette Funicello. In the musical's great climax the shrunken Tom led a toy army to a furious battle with the full-sized villain. Earlier in the same movie the Sands character was socked, sacked and about to be thrown into the sea to drown.
The Rescuers (1977) continued the Disney tradition of heavy psychological child abuse and featured a scene in which the kidnapper Madame Medusa is ready to drown the little girl, Penny, when the tide rages inside a subterranean labyrinth of caves. No bondage was used, but the movie does include plenty of suggested violence in the form of temperamental Medusa, her shotgun and two pet crocodiles.
During the early 1980s the movie company bearing Disney's name was desperately struggling to maintain a balance of light and dark without sugarcoating the final products. Examples of this very troubled Disney era include live-action movies such as The Black Hole (1979), Tron (1982), Dragonslayer (1981) and Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983) - the latter including some of the most frightening stuff in any Disney movie ever.
The Fox and the Hound (1981) continued the strong Disney tradition of scaring children in the audiences. Violence transformed from suggested to more visible. The next animated movie, The Black Cauldron (1985) featured Disney's very first animated human character to bleed (Taran) and also returned bondage, grisly skeletons and very atmospheric dungeons into the Disney Classics. Pig-keeper Taran and princess Eilonwy continued the Disney tradition of abused juveniles, but the adult victim, comic sidekick Flewddur Flam got tied up twice. The tied-up Flewddur also ended up in one of the original movie posters of The Black Cauldron.
In the following animated feature, The Great Mouse Detective (1986), the title character and his associate (both mice) are tied up on a mouse trap. The definite death-trap includes about a dozen different killing methods, but luckily our heroes survive them all and rescue the captured, tied-up and gagged mouse-Queen and entire England from the villain's evil clutches.
Even more over-the-top "toon bondage" was featured in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), the cinematic triumph of live-action mixed with animation. In the climax Roger and his breathtaking wife Jessica are tied up tightly together and hoisted several feet above the floor with a power winch. While the lovebirds dangle helplessly, human detective Eddie Valiant fights with the villain - and survives a definite threat to male heroes, a buzz-saw threatning his crotch. (James Bond's creator Ian Fleming used the same method in his original Goldfinger novel - and an endless amount of comedies and adventure movies use variations of this threat for laughs). However, the only scene including actual human bondage - with quite fascinating humiliation - was cut from the final version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. In the omitted scene Eddie Valiant was kidnapped by the toon weasels, tied up and gagged, taken to Toontown, and given a "Tooneroo" treatment - a painted pig face hiding his own head!
Next animated movie, Oliver & Company (1988) and the sequel to the original 1977 The Rescuers, The Rescuers Down Under (1990), continued controversial child abuse and child bondage in Disney's animated classics. Especially the young boy Cody, hands tied behind his back, got so heavily threatened by the villain in The Rescuers Down Under, that several of the scenes were cut (quite clumsily) for the original video release in several countries, including Sweden and Finland. At the movie's climax Cody hangs helplessly tied up over a river swarming with hungry crocodiles and survives also the threat of drowning.