So, I was talking with amaltheae, ysabel and
Kit (who should really get a LiveJournal)
at dinner last night, and the
topic of animation in general and anime in particular came up (mostly, I
think, as a segue from discussing the acting choices for the upcoming live action version of The Last
Unicorn). We came to several conclusions, among them that I was utterly
not the target audience of Disney movies (gee, big surprise there - but not
for the reason you might thing).
See, we were actually mostly discussing failed Disney movies (in particular, Treasure Planet and The Black Cauldron) and Disney Villains, and I noted that several people were of the opinion that Maleficent was the all-time best Disney Villain ever. But it noted that of the Disney movies that would never fly today, commercially, that is probably first among them, for the simple reason that a Disney Villain, no matter how despicable or evil or nasty they are, must, in the end, be accessible to the children watching the movie, or they won't mean anything. And Maleficent isn't. She's the sort of evil that gives children nightmares, instead. And sometimes adults. Which makes her a truly proper villain, but not a very good Disney Villain.
The reason this matters is that the 'major' villain backing the Prydain Chronicles (for those of you who are so uncultured as to not know it, this is the series by Lloyd Alexander in which The Black Cauldron is the second book of five) is Arawn, a nearly god-like figure of mythology and legend. Thus, making any sort of 'accurate' telling of the story could never really be done under the Disney moniker - while the more immediate story is full of young children, bumbling fools, and other characters germane to a good Disney movie, there is very little that could be done in terms of a villain that would not either make a mockery of it, or completely fail to work for a Disney audience.
This, of course, is merely my opinion, and I suspect nobody else there shared it. On the other hand, I would still love to see the story told by a studio that has successfully made 'adult' stories, with villains that are deep, meaningful, and actually *scary* on some fundamental level, without trying to soften it for a children's audience that is assumed to be unable to handle such things. The most obvious example, in many ways, would be Studio Ghibli, both for their recent works (the closest analogy perhaps being Princess Mononoke), and some of the earlier work done by the people who would later become that group (The Last Unicorn - and now you see another way we got here).
The books as they stand wouldn't make a very good screenplay, it's true, because they weren't written with that in mind, but I'd love to be able to get Lloyd Alexander together with a studio like that and write something based on the same sources and story concepts, and see what would come out of the mix. Not that it'll ever happen, but I can file it in my list of things to wish for, right?