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You may recognise the quote above. It goes

“No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true.”

It comes from Disney’s classic 1950 film Cinderella, which is a tale of triumph over adversity. Cinderella is a princess that, at the beginning of the story, has no mother and her father passes away too. And it sets the tone for many a classic film to follow, as it seems Disney choose to tell the story of a child with a disadvantaged background. This is a theme that has run right through the ages, you can probably count on one lucky fin the number of films Disney release where the main character does not have a back story of a dead parent, is adopted, has an evil step mother or has a disability and what’s more – if all is in tact the chances are things are going to go tits up within 30 minutes of the film! The Lion King is probably the most brutal viewing as we actually witness the murder of Simba’s father, but the Pixar films continue this trend, (we talk here about how sad Up is to watch). Obviously, the charm of these films allows them to get away with such a tragedy (enter a singing meerkat & farting warthog) but we take a look here at some of those common, often tragic, themes:

1937Snow White and the Seven DwarfsSnow WhiteNoNo
1940PinnocchioPinnocchioNoYesHe's a puppet
1941DumboDumboYesNoTaken away from parent for portion of film
1942BambiBambiNoYesWitness to parent's murder
1950CinderellaCinderellaNoNoEvil step-mother
1953Peter PanThe Lost BoysNoNo
1963The Sword in the StoneArthurNoNo
1967The Jungle BookMowgliNoNoRaised by wolves
1977The RescuersPennyNoNoAdopted at the end of the film
1989The Little MermaidArielNoYes
1991Beauty and the BeastBelleNoYes
1992AladdinAladdinNoNoPet monkey
1994The Lion KingSimbaYesNoWitness to parent's murder
1995Toy StoryAndyYesNo
1996The Hunchback of Notre DameQuasimodoNoNoDisability - deformation. Also, raised by the man who murdered his mother
1997HerculesHerculesYesYesSeparated from natural parents at birth
1999TarzanTarzanNoNoRaised by gorillas
2000The Emperor's New GrooveKuzcoNoNo
2000DinosaurAladarNoNoAbandoned at birth
2002Lilo & StitchLiloNoNo
2003Finding NemoNemoNoYesDisability - smaller "lucky" right fin. Also, taken away from one remaining parent for large portion of film
2007RatatouilleRemyNoYesHis mother is seen briefly in the short Your Friend the Rat (2007)
2007RatatouilleAlfredoNoNoNever knew his late father
2009The Princess and the FrogTianaYesNo
2009UpCarln/an/aWife = dead
2010TangledRapunzelYesYesSeparated from natural parents at birth
2010Toy Story 3BonnieYesNo
2013FrozenSisters Elsa & AnnaNoNo
2014Big Hero 6HiroNoNoWitness to brother's death

“The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it, or learn from it” (The Lion King – 1994)

But all of this is not as depressing as it sounds. It’s real life and as Cinderella was saying, anything is possible no matter what card you are dealt from the pack. Maybe not every wish but given this is Disney it’s fair enough that they almost always get their wish.

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