Many works of art take inspiration from those works that precede them. In the case of film, this inspiration can result in similar storylines, characters, dialogue or when inspecting with a microscope, even choreography and sequences. These similarities are often just a way for filmmakers to incorporate tried and tested ideas into their production so as to limit the risk involved. However, there is a fine line between inspiration and plagiarism. Below we highlight some of the instances where Disney copied sequences from earlier works so as to reduce the workload on their animators. Some would call such actions clever, others would call them lazy – perhaps they are both. Nonetheless, it should be noted that a company cannot plagiarize from itself when it has full copyright licensing. There would be no sense in suing oneself.
6. Robin Hood and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
Before Snow White came out in 1937, Disney had to put in a great deal of time and effort to make it happen. Apparently, Disney hired 570 artists who spent 3 years drawing over 1 million images. It is thus, no surprise that Disney did not want to go through the same extent of work for each of their future films. In Robin Hood which came out some 36 years later, a number of the scenes from Snow White are reused. The designs of the characters and the backgrounds are altered but the movement of the characters is exactly the same and the interaction between them is exactly the same. One example from Robin Hood is a scene where Maid Marion is dancing. This dance is an exact choreographic replica of a dance Snow White did for the seven dwarves.
5. Robin Hood and The Jungle Book
It turns out that Robin Hood was the lowest budget Disney film ever and they did not just use recycled dance sequences from Snow White. Another dance sequence which has Little John and Lady Kluck dancing appears to be choreographed based on a scene from the Jungle Book which was released 6 years earlier. The scene from The Jungle Book has Baloo dancing with King Louie. Baloo’s role in the dance was taken by Little John and the other role was taken by Lady Kluck. The scene from The Jungle Book was likely chosen due to the respective heights and personas of the characters involved.
4. The Jungle Book and 101 Dalmatians
Yet another scene where Snow White and Robin Hood borrowed art from each other!
3. The Jungle Book and The Sword in the Stone
Everyone’s favorite childhood story of a human child growing up in the wild didn’t only copy sequences from 101 Dalmatians. In fact a scene from The Sword in the Stone in which a young Arthur Pendragon was playfully attacked and licked by two dogs was also rehashed in The Jungle Book. Of course, Arthur was replaced in the scene with Mowgli and the playful act was conducted by two wolf cubs as opposed to two dogs.
2. Winnie the Pooh and The Jungle Book
A scene from Winnie the Pooh which was released 10 years after The Jungle Book depicts Chris Robins balancing himself on a fallen tree and Winnie following behind him. A similar sequence is present in The Jungle Book, although this latter scene did not have Mowgli being followed by any creature. Another scene from Winnie the Pooh has Chris throwing a stone into the abyss. The scene is also copied from The Jungle Book and if it wasn’t obvious enough, the two lead characters are holding the same object in their left hands as they throw the stone.
1. Beauty and the Beast and Sleeping Beauty
One of the most iconic scenes in animated television is that of Sleeping Beauty dancing with her Prince at the end of the film. The dance is beautifully choreographed and leaves a lasting impression on the viewer. In Beauty and the Beast which was released decades later, the same dance choreography is used when Belle dances with her beloved Beast. The animation used, however, is vastly improved in the more recent movie.
These sequences are just the tip of the iceberg and there are many others in Disney movies, new and old. Whether you like DIsney’s way of doing things or not, there is no doubt that their techniques work. And according to Disney, such practices legitimately cut the cost of production and the time taken for the film to come to fruition.