Disney’s newest animated release, Frozen, is the highest grossing animated film of all time. Much to the dismay of parents of Frozen-stricken little girls everywhere, Elsa and Anna merchandise is flying off the shelves faster than Disney can replenish it creating a virtual bidding war for the coveted Elsa dolls on auction sites such as Ebay. With all the hype and frenzy, the film is being erroneously awarded such lofty accolades as ‘the best animated film of all time.’
However, once the initial flurry of obsession melts away into obscurity and the next ‘best’ Disney movie is released, what is left will be another trendy film laden with embedded adult humor and created around a commercialism culture for the sole intention of selling merchandise to impressionable young girls.
It is time to ‘let it go,’ folks! Bigger is not necessarily better; and it is certainly not best. That worthy honor belongs to timeless classics such as, Charlotte’s Web. Adapted from the best-selling children’s novel by E.B. White and adapted to film in 1973, Charlotte’s Web originated in a much simpler time. The film was not created with a mindset of selling as much merchandise as feasibly possible but rather to bring to life a story that introduces and walks children through some of the inalienable truths of life- friendship, loyalty, life, and death.
Unlike the gender specific movies of this decade, Charlotte’s Web appeals to children and adults of all ages, girls and boys alike. Directors Charles Nichols and Iwao Takamoto did not feel the need to implant camouflaged and oftentimes racy adult quips or use fancy animation tricks in order to maintain the attention of the audience. They did not have to because the magic and the truth of the story in and of itself is captivating enough.
Through a brilliantly cast voice over of animated characters which includes such greats as Debbie Reynolds, children are introduced to classic literature. Through a beautifully written story line buffered with talking animals and a good-hearted little girl, they are gently faced with and come to terms with the reality that all living things are created to die. They learn that friendship comes in many unexpected forms, that standing up for those who cannot is noble and worthy, and that life is an undulating mixture of joy and sadness.
Unlike today’s fashionable animated films, Charlotte’s Web is not the product of the newest fad or commercially driven media craze. There are no fancy gimmicks. Children are not brushing their teeth with their Charlotte’s Web toothbrushes, slipping on their Charlotte’s Web pajamas, and snuggling into their Charlotte’s Web bedding while clutching their Charlotte’s Web dolls.
Rather, it is a classic film that has stood the test of time because the morals and truths that it teaches are as true today as they were yesterday and will still be tomorrow; and that, folks, is truly best.