Saturday, January 27, 2024

Wish (Centenary of the Walt Disney Animation Studios)

Chris Buck, Fawn Veerasunthorn: Wish (US 2023).

Centenary of the Walt Disney Animation Studios

Toive / Önskan.
    US ©  2023 Disney Enterprises. PC: Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Animation Studios. P: Peter Del Vecho, Juan Pablo Reyes Lancaster-Jones.
    Animation (watercolour and computer animation).
D: Chris Buck, Fawn Veerasunthorn. SC: Jennifer Lee & Allison Moore - story: Jennifer Lee, Chris Buck, Fawn Veerasunthorn, Allison Moore - additional story material: Carlos López Estrada, Andrew Rothschild.
    CinemaScope 2.55:1. Digital 2K. In 3-D and 2-D.
    Layout: Rob Dressel. PD: Michael Giaimo. Production Management, Art Department, Visual Effects Department, Animation Department, Sound Department, Music Department: all huge. M score: Dave Metzger. Songs: Julia Michaels, Benjamin Rice. ED: Jeff Draheim.
    VOICE TALENT original / Finnish / character
Ariana DeBose / Silja Kutvonen / Asha
Chris Pine / Markus Niemi / Kuningas Magnifico
Alan Tudyk / Osku Ärilä / Valentino
Angelique Cabral / Maria Ylipää / Kuningatar Amaya
Victor Garber / Eero Saarinen / Sabino (Ashan isoisä)
Natasha Rothwell / Ushma Olava / Sakina (Ashan äiti)
Jennifer Kumiyama / Niina Lahtinen / Dahlia
Evan Peters / Aaro Wichmann / Simon
Harvey Guillén / Miiko Toiviainen / Gabo
Ramy Youssef / Leo Ikhilor / Safi
Niko Vargas / Ringa Aflatuni / Hal
Della Saba / Mirella Roininen / Bazeema
Jon Rudnitsky / Henri Piispanen / Dario
    Finnish edition: dialogue and songs directed by Jukka Nylund. Translated by Aki Heinlahti.
    95 min
    US premiere: 8 Nov 2023 (El Capitan, Hollywood)
    US premiere: 22 Nov 2023 (wide)
    Finnish premiere: 15 Dec 2023, released by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Finland.
    Finnish edition in 2-D viewed at Tennispalatsi 2, Helsinki, 27 Jan 2024

IMDb: " A young girl named Asha wishes on a star and gets a more direct answer than she bargained for when a trouble-making star comes down from the sky to join her. "

IMDb: " Dedicated to Burny Mattinson, a Disney legend who died on February 27, 2023, having worked at Walt Disney Animation Studios for over 70 years. "

AA: During the end credits stylish vignettes cover a magical history tour of the Disney Company celebrating its 100th anniversary.

The jubileum film has been inspired by the studio anthem, "When You Wish Upon A Star", written by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington for Pinocchio (1940).

I appreciate in Wish the cosmic vision, the topical allegory of a narcissistic tyrant who wants to control even people's dreams and wishes, and the rebellious fighting spirit.

Topical is also the focus on female agency. No more sleeping beauties waiting for the prince's kiss. The Walt Disney tribute at Pordenone's Le Giornate del Muto in October 2023 reminded us that Disney's first protagonist and dynamo was Alice in the Alice Comedies series, launched in October, 1923, produced by Margaret J. Winkler.

The eternal dilemma of animation is that humans are less appealing than animals. (The very word "animation" seems to convey an animal affinity). A hundred years ago Walt Disney solved this by combining a live action Alice with Julius the Cat, the predecessor of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Mickey Mouse, etc. From the beginning, Disney realized the appeal of round forms and figures. In Wish, there is a slight concession towards roundness in human figures.

The art and craft is perfect, meeting all expectations. The achievement is nothing short of admirable. Released during the same season was another major animation, the new Hayao Miyazaki film The Boy and the Heron. It is superior due to its compelling and engrossing personal vision. It is full of a genuine Miyazaki spirit.


The first film I saw was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in its 1962 re-release (a Finnish voice version starring Eeva-Kaarina Volanen). The Hunting Instinct; Nikki, Wild Dog of the North; In Search of the Castaways; The Sword in the Stone and Mary Poppins were the first Disney films I caught during their first runs. I included many Disney movies in my film guides of 1000, then 1100 great films. My last project as programmer of the KAVI film archive was a comprehensive Walt Disney retrospective for Kino Regina in 2023-2024. We always had a happy collaboration with the Disney Company, memorably also in mounting a unique Film Concert Fantasia at the Helsinki Concert Hall with Disney's The Swan of Tuonela as a bonus, played live by Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra.

I had the honour to know Pentti Hauhiala, possibly the greatest Disney collector in the Nordic countries. He loved all things Disney. He also remarked that after Walt's death, Disney animations started to lack a genuine Walt spirit.

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