The Balrog Award, often referred to as the coveted Balrog Award, was created by Jonathan Bacon and first conceived in issue 10/11 of his Fantasy Crossroads fanzine in 1977 and actually announced in the final issue, where he also proposed the Smitty Awards for fantasy poetry. The awards were presented for the first time at Fool-Con II at the Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas on April 1, 1979. The awards were never taken particularly seriously, even by those who won the award. The final awards were presented in 1985. The Film Hall of Fame Awards were not presented the first year the Balrogs were given out, being created in 1980.
Released on November 13, 1940, Fantasia was the third feature length animated film made by Walt Disney, following on the heels of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Pinocchio. The film built on the Silly Symphonies series of shorts Disney released between 1929 and 1939. While the Silly Symphonies married images to original music, Fantasia would take eight pieces of known classical music and use them to tell stories.
While Snow White and Pinocchio were aimed at a juvenile audience, Fantasia is very much a film for adults. The lack of dialogue, and what dialogue there is being expository, mean that, although certain sections of the film will appeal to children, most kids will be bored through much of the movie.
Over the last few years, I’ve been a big fan of Disney/Pixar films, but not so much of the films put out by Disney itself. While I enjoyed Tangled well enough, when compared to the Toy Story franchise or Wall-E, the more mainstream Disney movies just don’t have the same emotional impact.
Or at least they didn’t. I think Disney may have broken that trend with their newest film, Wreck-It Ralph.
It’s not for nothing that this film marks a departure from Disney’s typical formula of repackaging classic fairy tales, either. By stepping outside of this traditional storytelling structure, they allowed for something new and adventurous. There’s a creative energy behind Wreck-It Ralph that was missing from The Princess and the Frog and Tangled.
This isn’t to say that Wreck-It Ralph doesn’t rely on classic stories as its inspiration. It’s just that these are classic video game stories … the fairy tales of the modern age.
The Basic Story (Minimal Spoilers)
Ralph is the “bad guy” in an 8-bit video game called Fix-It Felix, Jr., in which he lives in the city dump and comes down every day to destroy an apartment building, while the hero of the game repairs it. On the 30th anniversary of his video game, he has an existential crisis and decides he wants to be treated with respect. Toward this end, he decides to become a hero in another video game … throwing his own game into chaos.
That’s the basic story, the one that you get in the trailers, and there’s certainly no shortage of cameos and Easter eggs for those who grew up with video games in the 80’s and 90’s. (My 7-year-old missed some of the jokes that impressed me the most, of course.)
But what this description misses is how deeply plotted Wreck-It Ralph actually is, the many layers and plot twists that come up … but for that, we’ll need to offer at least a few high-level spoilers (nothing too major, though).
The Disney/Pixar partnership has always been willing to take some risks. Let’s face it, these are the people who turned a lost fish, talking cars, and Ed Asner in a floating house into deeply rich character-driven stories about the human condition. It’s really a wonder if there’s anything they can’t do well!
But one thing that they have avoided, until now, is even trying to dip their toes into the genre that Disney has mastered: the fairy tale.
From my perspective, with Brave they’ve blown pretty much every Disney fairy-tale-themed film out of the water. I won’t get much into the plotline, because Pixar’s done a really good job of not spoiling it too much. (I had a guess about what was going to happen, based largely on the Subway restaurant promotional campaign materials, and that guess was pretty much on the mark.)
But, even with no idea what happens in the film, there are a lot of things that the film is about which I can discuss…