Hercules This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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Released in 1997, Disney’s Hercules is still remembered by many as a classic. For those who love a good Disney-remade story, and for those who don’t particularly adore these types of movies, this animated feature appeals to all types of people who want a good laugh along with fantastic music. A fun story for kids, and a truly entertaining movie for adults, anyone and everyone can enjoy this movie.

The story of the hero Hercules comes from ancient Greek mythology, and while some mythology purists might be frustrated with the inaccuracies in the movie, it really is not meant to be an exact account of the original myth. Keeping within the spirit of Disney animation, the film is a fun rendition of an old story, adapted to be appropriate for all ages. Disney really wouldn’t and couldn’t release a comedic musical animation film where a God (Zeus) has an illegitimate son (Hercules) with a mortal woman, making his goddess-wife (Hera) angry enough to want to kill the son. That wouldn’t go over well with the typical Disney audiences. Especially when Hercules goes insane and kills about seven people, including his wife (Megara) and his sons. Instead of sticking to the myth’s plot (a smart call in my opinion), they adjusted it to tell a story of a God named Hercules who is turned mortal by Hades, the God of the Underworld. Although it is true that Disney didn’t stay anywhere near the gore and tragedy of the myth, making an accurate movie version was not the purpose the 93-minute movie. They simply used the name and the idea of a Greek demigod to create a delightful adventure/comedy/romance film.

Though Disney excluded much of the Greek’s dark story of Hercules, the animated movie actually has more scary scenes and images than similar films. Some of these scenes include the “Fates” (old witches that decide when a person will die), the “Hydra” monster, the “Titans,” and the Underworld’s river of death. In this way, they brilliantly found a happy medium between a fun children’s show and a gruesome Greek myth. Overall, these dark scenes are handled skillfully; they are able to show the shady side of the myth while keeping it relatively light by adding in lines such as “It’s a small underworld after all!” to brighten the mood for kids.

This movie also ventures a bit out of the Disney bubble by the use of many references, puns and witty jokes, which are often lost on young kids. This film, more than others, keeps the adults laughing by throwing in dozens of allusions to historical figures, quotes, modern movies, and other Disney films. One example includes an image where the Muses from Greek mythology are shown as sculptures that look exactly like the singing busts from Disney’s Haunted Mansion ride and movie. Although just a brief picture, many other short references like this appear constantly throughout the movie, waiting for Disney fans to pick up on the witty humor. Many modern-day references they include are adapted to the “Ancient Greece” theme: for instance the “Grecian Express” credit card is a take off of “American Express,” two kids trapped under a rock shout, “Somebody call IX-I-I!” referring to the “911” emergency phone line, and the “Air-Herc” shoes mimic Nike’s “Air Jordan” brand shoes. These are just a few examples, but they add masses of subtle comedy that make the movie more enjoyable for adults.

Not only is there comedy and plot, but the directors and music also add a professional quality to the movie. Two successful men, who had previously team-directed Disney’s Aladdin and The Little Mermaid, directed Hercules: Ron Clements and John Musker. Since then, they have also directed Treasure Planet and The Princess and the Frog. For Hercules, they won the Annie Award for Best Directing and Producing as well as the LAFCA (Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards) for Best Animation. The quality of the music is just as fabulous as the directors. The songs are all originals written by Alan Menken, who has written hundreds of Disney’s movie songs, and has won over 30 significant awards for his compositions. He also had one of his songs from Hercules—“Go the Distance”—nominated for an Oscar award. The music truly bursts with memorable and popular songs that make the movie even more sensational.

Overall, this fun family film has something for everyone. It’s excellence is shown through its achievements: Hercules was nominated for over eight different movie awards, and won five, including the ASCAP Award for Top Box Office Films, the Annie Award for Best Directing, Effects Animation, and Producing, and the LAFCA Best Animation Award. These awards stand by themselves in showing that Hercules was an excellently done movie for its purposes. It was not meant to be an accurate mythology lesson or an epic drama-filled movie, but instead fulfills its goal to make its audiences smile and laugh and care for a character on the screen. This movie fully accomplished these wishes, and is still a joy to watch today.





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