Historically Educational Disney Films
History Lessons through Animation Films
Did you know that amongst all the animated films that were produced by Walt Disney during his career and by his family's continued work in his name since his death there are several films based on characters in History, Legends, Mythology and Folklore?
While you and your children are sat in front of the TV watching these movies you could actually learn something of the background of those historical figures. Now wouldn't it be a bonus to have your child learn a little history while enjoying an animated film rather than just watch cartoons where the characters just beat each other senseless?
Disney Teaches History
I thought it might be a good idea to compile a list of Disney Films that fall into the category above and that teach us about some famous well known figures of the days gone by.
So here is a list of reviews on a few such films....
Pocahontas (c. 1595 – March 21, 1617), later known as Rebecca Rolfe, was a Virginia Indian chief's daughter notable for having assisted colonial settlers at Jamestown. She converted to Christianity and married the English settler John Rolfe. In March 1617, Rolfe and Pocahontas boarded a ship to return to Virginia, however, the ship had only gone as far as Gravesend on the River Thames when Pocahontas became gravely ill. She was taken ashore and died. According to Rolfe, she died saying, "all must die, but it's enough that her child liveth." Her funeral took place on March 21, 1617 in the parish of St. George's, Gravesend. The site of her grave is unknown, but her memory is honored in Gravesend with a life-size bronze statue at St. George's Church.
This film is based on the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan. As a child, Mulan loved riding horses around the pond and shooting arrows, as well as reading books about war, as she was from an area dedicated to practicing the arts of fighting. It is recorded that she was born around Hú Nán Shāng Chūi Shì, a province in northern ancient China that practiced the arts of the sword, as well as fighting and kung fu. Mulan was around 18 when she joined an all-male army in place of her father, who was too old, and a younger brother who was still too young. During her war years, she fought against forces from the Middle East and the Mongolian/nomadic tribes, and was able to claim victory for China for a short period of time. She was then offered a title, but rejected it and went home. It is said that she died of old age, not from war.
Hercules - Mythology tells various accounts so it is hard to know which bits are historically more likely. Reputed to be the illegitimate child of Greek God Zeus and a mortal woman named Alcmene (Roman equivalents say Jupiter and Alcmena). Grew as a mortal being with partial immortality due to feeding from the Goddess Hera while she was asleep. Hera later in life sent Hercules into a blind fury during which he killed his own children. When he regained his sanity he searched out the Oracle to beg for atonement and was given 12 tasks to complete known as the labors of Hercules.
Hunchback of Notre Dame
Hunchback of Notre Dame
Hugo's seminal novel, which tells the story of the deaf bell-ringer of Notre Dame and his unrequited love for the gypsy girl Esmeralda.
But a new discovery appears to have been uncovered revealing the real-life inspiration behind Hugo's character; suggesting that Quasimodo is based on a historical figure. In the memoirs of Henry Sibson, a 19th-century British sculptor who was employed at the Notre Dame cathedral at around the time the book was written he describes a hunched back stonemason also working there. The documents were acquired by the Tate Archive in 1999 after they were discovered in the attic of a house in Penzance, Cornwall.
In one entry, Sibon's writes: "the [French] government had given orders for the repairing of the Cathedral of Notre Dame, ....here I met with a Mons. Trajan, a most worthy, fatherly and amiable man as ever existed – he was the carver under the Government sculptor whose name I forget.... all that I know is that he was humpbacked and he did not like to mix with carvers."
(Information thanks to Telegraph Article see link).
Robin Hood is a heroic outlaw in English legend and folklore. A highly skilled archer and swordsman, he is known for "robbing from the rich and giving to the poor," assisted by a group of fellow outlaws known as his "Merry Men".
Historians and researchers have a range of views but generally believe that Robin Hood was alive around the thirteenth century.
It is at Kirklees Priory that the supposed grave of Robin Hood can still be seen to this day.
Sadly, much of Kirklees Priory is now ruined but roughly 600 metres from the gatehouse a medieval gravestone was found bearing a partial inscription "here lies Robard Hude..."
Atlantis: The Lost Empire
Atlantis: The Lost Empire
The story of the lost continent of Atlantis starts in 355 B.C. with the Greek philosopher Plato. Atlantis is a legendary lost city, possibly an entire continent. It is said to have been submerged beneath the sea, possibly as a result of volcanic activity or a huge earthquake. According to Plato this happened around 9,000 BCE.
Did Atlantis ever really exist? Was it just a folk tale that caught on? Or perhaps just a metaphorical setting invented by Plato? No-one knows.
Non Disney Animations
Then there were a couple of animations that it turned out weren't made by Disney however I have included them below as they are just as good and as relevant to this hubs subject.
20th Century Fox Film based on the life of Anastasia daughter of Tsar Nicholas ll of Russia.
Persistent rumors of her possible escape have circulated since her reported death, fuelled by the fact that the location of her burial was unknown during the decades of Communist rule.
Several women have falsely claimed to have been Anastasia.
In March 2009, the final results of DNA testing from bodies discovered in 2007 near Ekaterinburg were published proving conclusively that the remains of all four Grand Duchesses have now been accounted for, and no one escaped.
Prince of Egypt
Prince of Egypt
Dreamworks film based on the biblical character of Moses.
In the Bible Moses is the figure known for many things. As a baby he is placed into a basket and placed upon the river Nile by his mother who is fearful of the Pharaohs orders to kill all Hebrew baby boys born. The basket is found by the Pharaohs daughter who raises Moses alongside her own son as a younger sibling to the future Pharaoh of Egypt. In adulthood Moses discovers the truth and flees Egypt. It is during these years that he became a shepherd and married and discovers the Burning Bush through which God speaks to him and tells him to return to Egypt to request the release of the Israelites that are suffering at the hands of the Pharaoh. When the Pharaoh refuses to release the Israelites God brings the various plagues of Egypt upon the Pharaoh ending with the death of each firstborn son of Egypt. The Angel of Death passed over the Hebrew houses as their door lintels were marked with blood as God had instructed them. Moses goes on to lead his people out of Egypt and parts the Red Sea for them to cross to safety from the Pharaohs guards and then brings the Ten Commandments into Hebrew lives delivered from God on stone tablets.
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