Walt Disney Studios celebrates its 100th anniversary this year and one of the highlights honouring their heritage is ‘Wish’, an original new movie filled with nods to the studio’s past.
One prominent theme in Disney movies over the years is the power of wish-making, even the musical signature played over the Disney logo before every movie comes from‘When You Wish Upon a Star’, the Oscar-winning song heard in 1940’s ‘Pinocchio’. That classic idea of wishing on a star is fully explored in ‘Wish’. Set in the magical kingdom of Rosas, the film follows the young and wilful Asha (voiced by Oscar winner Ariana DeBose) as she fights to return all of the citizens’ wishes,that have been locked away, never to be fulfilled by the ruling sorcerer King Magnifico (Chris Pine). Joined by her favourite pyjama-wearing goat Valentino (voiced by Disney’s good luck charm Alan Tudyk), Asha learns from a star called, erm, Star that a little inner courage can go a long way.
The idea for ‘Wish’ began in 2018 shortly after the film’s writer Jennifer Lee was named chief creative officer at Disney. “I mentioned it to (‘Wish’ director) Chris Buck while we were working on ‘Frozen 2’—we were still pretty deep in story and production,” says Lee. “And we couldn’t help ourselves. Within a few days, he had images from every movie our studio has made on boards in the hallway, just to start thinking.”
The team viewed all of Disney’s productions over the past 100 years with a special lens, and did a deep dive into the studio’s extensive film library and on Walt Disney himself, asking who he was & what inspired him. They even looked into his childhood on his farm in Missouri. Some stories suggest baby animals on the Disney farm occasionally were dressed up, which inspired Valentino, the pyjama-wearing goat in ‘Wish.’
The film pays homage to classic Disney films in numerous ways, not only does it use the same aspect ratio as 1959’s ‘Sleeping Beauty’ but the art style combines the look of Disney’s traditional animation with modern time computer animation. The end result resembles the watercolour paintings that inspired Disney’s earliest films like 1937’s ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’.
Eagle eyed fans will notice many easter eggs that reference Disney’s 100 year history, One great example, is Asha’s seven close friends called ‘the teens’. Each one resembles one of the seven dwarfs, and their names also share the Dwarfs initials. Dahlia has brains and glasses like Doc, Simon is just as tired as Sleepy, Gabo is a little Grumpy, Safi is always sneezing, Dario has the same wiggling ears and rosy cheeks as Dopey, Hal smiles all the time like Happy, and Bazeema, is as shy as Bashful.
Artists were encouraged to be playful with adding things for fans to discover to the background or adding movement to characters that nod to Disney’s past. So the story will work on many levels, bringing us a modern day heroine in Asha, while acknowledging the legacy of a studio that has reached such a huge milestone.