Shrek is a film in which a green ogre satirizes fairy tales while incorporating subtle adult humor. DreamWorks, often referred to as the anti-Disney, took every opportunity to poke fun at its competitor with its classic stories and iconic characters. What sets Shrek apart from the films before it? Simple: unlike the hordes of other animated fares that only appeal to the younger demographic, Shrek was the first film a wide audience could enjoy. Besides being hilarious Shrek also boasts the most unlikely hero (a rather unattractive ogre) who wins the heart of a princess. This is a film that has not only a lot of laughs, but also has heart.
An animation cornerstone, Fantasia has gone on to be mimicked, duplicated, and ripped in numerous cartoon shorts and feature films. Filled with abstract images and driven by strong music, Fantasia is a pure treat for the eyes and ears. This is an example of Disney’s daring and stepping slightly outside of the norm approach that resulted in a picture that’s indespensible.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
Mixing live action and animation, Who Framed Roger Rabbit raised the bar on what the public could expect from these genre films. When a toon becomes wanted for murder, the town is split. It’s up to a detective to clear the name of the wrongly accused rabbit and save the lives of hundreds of other toons. A clear winner among viewers and critics, Who Framed Roger Rabbit represents a truly innovative idea in the genre that often times gets stuck in a very similar routine. It’s more than a decade later and Roger Rabbit still feels fresh and original — something many films can’t maintain.
The Lion King (1994)
Take a classic Shakespeare tale, add the wholesome Disney touch and you’re left with one of the greatest animated films of all-time, The Lion King. The film is a breakthrough in animation with a variety of characters able to express a wide range of complex emotions. When a young prince loses his father, he vanishes into the outskirts of the kingdom while his uncle takes the throne. A warthog and meercat later, the now-mature lion is ready to reclaim the throne that’s rightfully his. The Lion King is Disney’s pinnacle in hand-drawn animation and the studio has yet to duplicate its success — and probably never will, as Disney has permanently replaced its’ hand-drawn division with computer animators.
Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
What’s the result of a cutting edge director tackling an animated flick centered around the holidays? Nothing short of brilliant, and that’s what Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas is. Jack Skellington is bored of the routine of Halloweentown and stumbles across Christmastown when a brave idea enters his mind. He urges the resident ghouls and goblins to celebrate Christmas, but doesn’t seem to get it right. The film is witty, delightful and the animation is stellar. The Nightmare Before Christmas is essential animation.
— Compiled by Pablo Saldana