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The Reluctant Dragon
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Reluctant Dragon is a delightful "behind-the scenes" look from 1941 at how Disney's animated features were made back then. The only thing for parents to even remotely be concerned about is that people are shown smoking cigarettes, which was accurate for the time period. Other than that, this movie offers a fascinating glimpse into all the different aspects that went into every facet of an animated film, from the sketches to the animation itself, from the sound effects to the characters' voices. For parents and children interested in animation, this is the perfect movie to see how animated films were made decades before computers got involved.
What's the story?
While lounging around the pool, the humorist Robert Benchley listens to his wife read aloud the children's story "The Reluctant Dragon." She asks Benchley to pitch the idea of turning the story into an animated feature to Walt Disney. This leads to Benchley getting a guided tour "behind the scenes" into how animated features are made. He witnesses everything from preliminary sketches to sound effects, from orchestras providing the background music to the performers recording the voices of the animated characters. The result is a charming evocation of how animated features were made decades before computers were brought into the mix.
Is it any good?
Long before Pixar and computer animation entered the picture, this charming evocation of a long-gone time showed how animated features were made, back in 1941. In spite of some of its general datedness, the film should prove fascinating to families and potentially inspiring to kids interested in learning the art of animation.
Sketches and storyboards, Technicolor and sound effects, editing and character voices -- all these and more are explored as the humorist Robert Benchley leads us from department to department. It's a nonstop glimpse into the endless creativity of the "golden years" of Disney animation and a delightful education for both parents and kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the history of animation. How have the animation processes shown in this movie changed over time, and what are some elements that have remained the same?
If you could create your own animated feature, how would you do it? What would be the first steps in the process?
If this movie were made today, how would it be different?
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