So when we think of Disney, most people think of odd little cartoons running around or unrealistic princesses in pretty dresses with no voice. Often, we also associate Disney with children. There’s no doubt about it, Disney does relate to children very effectively. The language is suitable, easy to comprehend and not obnoxious. There are very few scenes that are very graphic or sexualised. However, there is a strong link between Disney and Shakespeare. For example, the Lion King. Simba’s uncle kills his father, his father comes back as a ghost, Simba can’t really cope with the loss of his father and isn’t sure he’s up to the job, he also has two funny friends who help him on his way: doesn’t this sound alarmingly like Hamlet? Ok, take out the fact their lions, remove the odd hacoonamatata s, and the fact the hyienas killed Scar and it’s basically the same story.
You could say that’s a bit of a stretch, but actually Shakespeare appeares in other Disney films. In the remake of Beauty and the Beast, Belle reads out ” there were never a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo.” So although the storyline isn’t based around Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet features heavily in Beauty and the Beast.
Iago- that famous manipulator in Othello- also makes an appearance in Aladdin as the Sultan’s bird.
In the scene where Aladdin asks the genie to grant his wish to make him a prince, the genie replies ” Caesar salad.. et this Bruno” which is in fact a quote from Julius Caesar Act 3 scene 1 as Caesar is dying.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame also has many references to The Merchant of Venice- the Gargoyles quote it in their speech when Quasimodo is deciding whether to go to the party or not.
So the next time you want a soppy film, or your babysitting or chilling with the kids, have a deeper look into what exactly you are watching because Disney is for kids. But it’s also for adults.