The Same Ol’ Story


It was 1923 when Walt Disney signed a contract to produce the first Disney production, “Alice’s Wonderland”.

100 years after that famous event, Disney is still one of the most active production companies for cartoons, movies, and short films for all ages.

Millions of new movies have been produced over this period, but if we examine Disney stories, they usually follow the same general storyline.

First, there’s a protagonist who has something that makes him unique. Belle from “Beauty and the Beast,” for example, is smart and cultured. Miguel Rivera, the young boy from “Coco,” has a talent for music in his blood. 

Then, the main character finds an obstacle to face on his way, like Cinderella’s plan to find her prince, which is ruined by her cruel stepmother.

 At this point, fear rises to the surface, and the protagonist is about to give up, but then, suddenly, with the help of another wise character, the protagonist finds the internal strength to fight and defeat evil. 

And so Aladdin and Jasmine fly off on the magic carpet, and Simba becomes again the Lion King of his kingdom.

No matter where or when the story is set or who the characters are, the story will always follow this outline. Logically thinking, all of this can sound boring and repetitive after a few movies. Yet, after 100 years, Disney is still a worldwide success, and it’s hard to find a single person that doesn’t enjoy watching Disney movies. 

So, what is Disney’s secret?

Let’s start by acknowledging that Disney didn’t invent this type of plot. It comes, in fact, from ancient literature. 

Snow white, for example, was originally a fairytale written by the Brothers Grimm. What is interesting is that the original storyline was a little darker. According to an article from the magazine Bustle, in fact, the devil queen attempted to kill Snow White three times. 

The first time by suffocating her, the second time by selling her a poisoned comb, and the third time by giving her a poisoned apple. Disney tries instead to adapt the original stories to his young public and put a happy ending that leaves a smile on everyone’s face.

Disney also has a magnificent way of “packaging” the story in colors, contexts, and images that capture the eye and the tenon glued to the screen just for the aesthetic beauty of what is made with the animation.

But what I think the real power of Disney is, is that it can make you reflect yourself in the protagonist of each story.

Because everyone has felt at least once like a small and apparently irrelevant person in a giant world, but with actually something special hidden inside.

And Disney is there to remind us that each one needs to find that internal power to deal with all the experiences and the challenges that life faces.

Disney has the capacity to talk about deep topics like death, love, friendship, honesty, betrayal, and many others in a way that almost caresses your soul that respects the sensibility of even the most naïve individuals, the children.

I’m curious to see how Disney will reinvent itself and its stories in the next 100 years of Disney.