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Famous Disney Lyricist Criticizes Live-Action Remakes

Sir Tim Rice and Elton John
Credit: D23

Walt Disney Studios has gotten a lot of criticism lately over its decisions to remake animated classics constantly. Much of the latest live-action remakes have been panned by audiences and critics, all while not making a lot of money for the Walt Disney Company.

RELATED: ‘Insulting and Disrespectful’ Son of Snow White Director Didn’t Hold Back About the Remake

Peter Pan & Wendy Promo Disney + Captain Hook Jude Law

Disney+

They have also come with many criticisms, culture war fights, and debates online and elsewhere over changes to the original. With the upcoming Snow White (2024) film from Walt Disney Studios about to become the newest movie to add to the list of remakes, it also has many modern controversies. Leaked images of costumes, removing dwarfs, and comments from Rachel Zegler attacking the original 1937 film have caused a major headache for the Walt Disney Company.

RELATED: Warnings Issued About Rachel Zegler Ahead of ‘Snow White’

Disney’s Tim Rice…

Lately, Sir Tim Rice, the famous Disney lyricist who provided his talents to Aladdin (1992) and The Lion King (1994) has weighed in. He famously worked with Andrew Lloyd Webber throughout his career to create many stage productions, including Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Evita. In an interview with GB News, the award-winning lyricist commented on Disney remakes, specifically addressing The Lion King (2019), The Little Mermaid (2023) and the upcoming Snow White (2024).

aladdin "one jump ahead"

Credit: Disney

On Remakes…

During the interview, Sir Tim Rice was asked if he felt that the live-action remakes were what the public wanted. He discusses his work with The Lion King (2019) and how he feels the so-called live-action version didn’t work as well as the animated original.

lion king (2019)

Credit: Disney

“I didn’t think the live-action so-called version worked as well as the cartoon,” he said. “Partly because it’s extremely difficult to make animals, even though the whole thing was constructed and, in a way, was a sort of cartoon itself, but to make real-looking animals have expressions, it was almost impossible. And a lot of humor seemed to go from the film…”

On Snow White…

Sir Tim Rice then mentions the upcoming Snow White (2024) film. He addresses that the story of Snow White has been re-told and remade multiple times on screen and stage – dating back way before Walt Disney adapted it into a feature-length cartoon.

snow white live action remake rachel zegler seven dwarfs disney disney princess David hand

Credit: Disney

He continued, “The story, as I understand it, the new version of Snow White; the story is being changed so much, the characters are being changed, the dwarfs are not all dwarfs. And you think well, ‘Why call it [Snow White] a remake? Why not just make a new film with an exciting new story?”

On Disney Princesses…

In addition, Sir Tim Rice addressed the notion that only certain actors of certain races/genders can play parts that mirror those of the original characters.

Snow white live action

Credit: Disney

“I think anybody, if you’re an actor, should be able to play any part, and the only thing really that matters is whether the actor is good and right for the part.” The interviewer does press Sir Tim Rice on whether or not movies should be changed to reflect today’s ideas, morals, values, and culture. To which he agreed – to a point.

RELATED: Former Disney Imagineer Advises Disney to SCRAP Theatrical Release of ‘Snow White’ Opting Instead for Straight to Disney+ Option

“Yes, I think you have to take in the views of today,” he said. “But you shouldn’t be completely high-bound by them. I don’t think, for example, the 1937 Snow White, for example, is now a bad film, because it reflects and reflected its time. And it was sincerely made, and it was extraordinarily popular.”

RELATED: Disney Imagineer Defends ‘Song of the South’ and Splash Mountain

He continued to criticize Disney’s choice to redo it.

Snow white live action

Credit: Disney

“But you can’t do that again now, and why would you want to? Because it’s already been done very well back in what seems like the Stone Age of cinema. And my only question is, really, why call it ‘Snow White?’ Why not make a brand-new film with an exciting story?” This sentiment seems to be shared by many Disney fans and standard moviegoers.

New Ideas?

Where are the new movies and new ideas? It seems that Walt Disney Studios is facing diminishing returns regarding the live-action remakes it keeps producing. The most recent examples if. However, it doesn’t appear that any attempt is being made to reduce the strategy.

Tangled

Credit: Disney

One of the final points in the interview is when Sir Tim Rice is asked about gender roles and fairytale stereotypes in the old movies. To which he replied, “You have to go back quite a long way to have an excuse to criticize a film for being unfair to women. I think Disney films, whether good or not, have done women justice.”

The entire video interview can be viewed here.

About Steven Wilk

Steven has a complicated relationship with Disney. As a child, he visited Walt Disney World every few years with his family. But he never understood why kids his age (and older) were so scared of Snow White or Alien Encounter. He is a former participant of the Disney College Program (left early…long story), and he also previously worked in Children’s publishing, where he adapted multiple Disney movies and TV shows. He has many controversial opinions about Disney…like having a positive view of Michael Eisner, believing Return of the Jedi is superior to The Empire Strikes Back, and that Toy Story Land and Galaxy’s Edge should have never been built (at least not at Hollywood Studios). Every year for the past two decades, Steven has visited either Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Aulani or went on a Disney Cruise. He’s happy to share any and all knowledge of the Disney destinations (and he likes using parenthesis a lot…as well as ellipses…)