Don Bluth and the Preservation of Traditional Animation

         While the world of movies contains many aspects, one of the first that most remember is the world of animation. The animation industry thrives with the help of children and imagination. One of the key figures to my, and most people of my age, childhood movie experiences was Don Bluth.

         Don Bluth began his career at Walt Disney Studios as an animator. He worked on such films as Sleeping Beauty (1959) and Robin Hood (1973). He was soon promoted to animation director for the films Pete’s Dragon (1977) and The Rescuers (1977). It seemed to him and other animators at the studio that Disney was not producing the same quality movies that it was known for, however; and Bluth and others left to form an independent production company of their own.

         The first film that was produced was The Secret of NIHM (1982), based on the popular book Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM, by Robert C. O’Brian. After that, Bluth teamed up with Steven Spielberg to create An American Tail (1986) and The Land Before Time (1988). Both movies shaped the childhoods of many college-aged people and both went on to be made into sequels (though not made by Bluth). All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989), Rock-A-Doodle (1991), Thumbelina (1994), and A Troll In Central Park (1994) were the next batch of movies to be made by Bluth’s production company; but none matched the caliber that Disney had remade for itself (with such movies as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and The Lion King).

         In 1997, Bluth and his company finally hit it big with the musical Anastasia. It remains the most acclaimed of Bluth’s films and received two Oscar nominations. They went on to make a sequel, Bartok the Magnificent (1999), and also a science fiction film, Titan A.E. (2000).

         While Don Bluth films never made as much money as his original Disney ones did, the works he created still hold a special place in animation history. He brought a certain something to animation that was missing from other films. He brought a darkness, a depth to films. Animated movies today do not have this. The plots do not have the storyline depth and the emotion that Bluth’s traditional animation style held. Children growing up today do not get a glimpse of the real world through the films that are being made, and it is my opinion that this will hurt them in the long run. My generation grew up with movies that included death, human emotions, sadness, and evil presences that needed to be vanquished. Children now a days just have films that are meant to make them entertained and be quiet, not to teach them a life lesson with the story.

         We need people today like Don Bluth to re-introduce the art of traditional animation (not the 3D stuff we have now), and we need people like him to help teach the younger generations how to grow.

Lorrie Veach

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