10 Best Hand-Drawn Disney Movies, According To IMDb

With modern Disney films being created in 3-D animation, it’s hard to remember what the classics looked like until fans re-watch those created from 1937. 2-D animation, also known as hand-drawn animation, is created by drawing each frame by hand. The last hand-drawn Disney movie was depicted in The Princess And The Frogwhich was released in 2009.

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Hand-drawn animation, while tedious, was the traditional way to create animated films until the rise of computer animation in the 90s – with Disney’s first computer animated show Toy Story was released with huge success. Although computer-generated animation is quicker and more advanced, many respect the hard-working roots in which it was created from. Hand-drawn Disney films will always be iconic to childhood memories, and are not disregarded for their traditional creation.


Alice in Wonderland (7.4 Stars)

Starring the voice talents of Kathryn Beaumont, Ed Wynnaand Verna FeltonDisney’s 1951 classical film Alice in Wonderland created a wonderful world filled with color and magic. Alice (Kathryn Beaumont) follows a white rabbit who insists he is running late, spiraling her down a hole and into the fantastical world of Wonderland, where she meets brazen characters like the Cheshire Cat (Sterling Holloway) and the Mad Hatter (Ed Wynn).

Alice in Wonderland was created with bolder Technicolor colors in comparison to previous Disney animations in order for movement illusions to successfully occur, while simultaneously enhancing the fantastical elements of Wonderland.

Robin Hood (7.5 Stars)

Robin Hood is a stand-out, notorious Disney film, marked as the first animation to be produced after Walt Disney’s death in 1966 without his input (Robin Hood was released in 1973), and the first animated Disney film to feature a cast entirely of animals, paving the way for other successful animations such as zootopia.

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Outside its praise for a fully-animalistic cast, Robin Hood received a poor reception for its animation. It is incontrovertible that the setting of Robin Hood provides a beautiful landscape that highlights important details, and blurs out others in favor of creating less distraction. However, during the production of the film, the grand setting took up more time than anticipated on the deadline, meaning that the animators had to result in recycling a lot of the film.

Pinocchio (7.5 Stars)

A morally driven story about a young puppet who wants to transform into a real boy, Pinocchio is a well-loved Disney film that released in 1940. Adapted from the original novel, The Adventures Of Pinocchio by Carlo Colodithe design of his character transformed from a stoic puppet into a cute boy with puppet features, which was believed to humanize his character and make him more likeable.

Utilizing Disney’s new camera that developed depth in scenes, the film is renowned for its landscapes, and at the time of release, for its hyperrealistic special effects in details such as the splashes, the magic in the Blue Fairy’s wand, and waves in the ocean . The film also gave rise to the popular song synonymous with Disney – ‘When You Wish Upon A Star’, written by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington.

Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs (7.6 Stars)

A defining moment in entertainment, the creation of Disney’s first feature animation film Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs in 1937 marked an iconic emergence of the magic of Disney films. A resentful Queen (Lucille La Verne) learns that her step daughter Snow White (Adriana Caselottic) is the fairest maiden in the land. The Queen hires a hitman to kill Snow White, but he empathizes with her, and allows her to escape. Lost in a forest, Snow White encounters the seven dwarfs who allow her to stay on the condition that she maintains the house. Meanwhile, the Queen plots her revenge.

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The film was the first animation to be created with Technicolor – a dye-transfer process that produces color in motion pictures, and took numerous life-drawing classes in order to progress into more naturalistic movements in the characters.

The Little Mermaid (7.6 Stars)

The story of a young girl eager to change her life transformed into new depths with the production of The Little Mermaid in 1989. Being mostly set underwater, the film required a large amount of special effects in order to create verisimilitude for aspects such as bubbles. The Little Mermaid was the final Disney animation produced using traditional hand-painted cel methods, where Disney began to implement a mixture of digital coloring with hand-drawn drawings that were instead scanned.

The Little Mermaid has been coined as the beginning film of the Disney Renaissance – an era in which Disney films found constant success. With a Broadway style in its plot, The Little Mermaid has become well-known for its musical score, namely from hits such as ‘Under The Sea’. The film received 7.6 stars on IMDb.

The Jungle Book (7.6 Stars)

The final movie produced by Walt Disney himself, The Jungle Book is a powerful, musical adventure that was released in 1967. The story follows the orphan turned jungle boy Mowgli (Bruce Reitherman), who must return to his village after learning that Bengal tiger Shere Khan (George Sanders) is approaching the part of the jungle he resides in. With the help of Bagheera (Sebastian Cabot), Mowgli unwillingly heads towards the village, until he is deferred by the fun-loving antics of bear Baloo (Phil Harris).

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The Jungle Book was produced using xerographic animation – a process where the original animation drawings are printed directly on the cels, effectively eliminating the hand-printing stage in animation and cutting costs dramatically. The bear necessities of The Jungle Book ranked well on IMDb’s list, scoring 7.6 stars.

Mulan (7.6 Stars)

The most iconic female character in the Disney universe that elicits morals of courage and honor comes from the 1998 musical-drama, Mulan. During production, animators traveled to China to engross themselves in the infrastructures they were to translate into the film. They also scaled back from their new design aesthetic seen in films like The Hunchback Of Notre Dameand instead worked to imitate traditional Chinese art.

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This manifested as simpler designs, softer colors, and watercolors that would create a softness in the lighting. Just like older Disney films, the emphasis was placed on the characters rather than the background.

Fantasy (7.7 Stars)

The epic musical production that comes as fantasy was produced in 1940, featuring the quintessential Disney character, Mickey Mouse. Lacking any particular plot, and utilizing almost no dialogue, fantasy instead transforms an orchestra performance into an animated spectacular, split into seven segments. Each segment contains a miniature plot, centered around a musical piece, which is heightened by different artworks.

Created to boost the popularity of Mickey Mouse, fantasy wished to explore the importance of music that was combined with masterful artwork. With its psychedelic color scheme that mimics the glorious musical score, each segment’s colors was specially tailored to represent the narrative and mood, embracing the music through Technicolor and brightly-colored frames.

Aladdin (8 Stars)

The musical fantasy smash hit aladdin has become infamous globally since its debut in 1992. A poor street-boy, Aladdin (Scott Weinger) scours the land of Agrabah in order to survive with his pet monkey, Abu (Frank Welker), as Princess Jasmine (Linda Larkin) grows bored with her lavish, locked-in life inside the palace, where she awaits marriage.

Wishing to explore the concept of surrealism in its animation, the main characters of aladdin were drawn based on geometric shapes, and influenced by caricature drawings, which mimicked the swooping Arabic calligraphy-style of the title font. Oriental paintings inspired aladdin‘s color palette, whereby light colors symbolized the protagonists and dark as the antagonists, with the city of Agrabah in more neutral colors.

The Lion King (8.5 Stars)

evocative, daring, and loveable, The Lion King is a timeless Disney film, despite being released in 1994. Received without any existing material unlike other Disney films, The Lion King worked with references to live animal footage to create realistic movements, while the writers wished to create a story about a coming-of-age.

The individualization of each character, despite being animals, has made a lasting effect on Disney’s remarkable storytelling abilities, and upheld itself away from critique against new photo-realistic techniques used to portray animals. The Lion King is a beautiful, iconic film that is one of the highest-grossing animations of all time.

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