Each of the horse characters in Disney films has a unique personality that shines throughout the films, making the audience instantly grow a connection to the character. When I was trying to figure out the personality and behaviour of my horse, I watched all of my Disney favourites for some inspiration.
Maximus from Tangled was unlike other Disney horses. Throughout Tangled, Maximus plays the noble steed that is always on the look out for trouble. His stubborn personality creates humour in scenes when his character disagrees with Flynn. The fact that Maximus is a horse doesn’t get in the way of his extraordinary character shining just as much as the other main characters in the film. Whilst watching the films, it was interesting to learn that all of the horses seen in Disney films are based on real life breeds.
Phillipe, was Belles horse in The Beauty and the Beast. Phillipe was based on a very popular breed of a Belgian draft horse. Belgian horses have a very docile nature and are loved by farmers as work animals. You can see the nature of the horse come across in the film. Phillipe was a very gentle horse compared to the outlandish personality of Maximus. Phillipe was also designed with the typical colour of a Belgian draft horse, a light shade known as blonde sorrel.
Another of my favourite horses was Sitron from frozen. Sitron was based on the horse breed Norwegian Fjord. The Norwegian Fjord horse is one of the worlds purest breeds. The breed originated from Norway and was domesticated 4,000 years ago. You can tell that Sitron is a pure breed just looking at him, he look and moves like a piece of art. The character designers included all the characteristics of a Fjord Horse. Including the mane, which is usually white with black tips, and stands tall. The mane enhances the graceful curve of the neck, which you can see is a prominent feature on Sitron.
Angus was Merida’s horse in Brave. Brave is one of my Disney favourites, I think that it stands out from the rest of the Disney films. It isn’t the typical romantic love story, it is about a young brave woman creating her own destiny, instead of relying on a prince. Angus was based on a Draft Horse known as a Shire. The shire horse comes in black, bay and grey. It is a tall muscular breed, known for its ability to pull heavy weight. The breed is extradorinary tall with huge hooves for stability. You can feel the weight of Angus in the film as he runs through the forest with Merida on his back.
Although I am a 3D animation lover, it is nice to consider the old classics like Aristocats and 101 Dalmations. I do love the rough quality and linework in the traditional 2D movies. Frou Frou was the horse in Aristocats, she was based on a Palomino horse. The designers did a fantastic job of remaking all of the qualities of the Palomino horse onto the design of Frou Frou. The Palomino, is also known as the Golden Horse, the colour of an untarnished united states gold coin.
It was amazing to witness the amount of detail and research that goes into creating the visual characteristics of Disney horse characters. They use the characteristics of the real breeds to influence the personality’s of the animated horses.
This research has given me lots to consider for my own film. My personal challenge is to consider how I can capture the personality of wild mustang and reflect that through its movement. I hope that I can create an emotional connection between the audience and my character. Which is what the animated movie ‘Spirit’ does perfectly. Spirit has inspired me throughout my process of creating this film, the vast background paired with the beautiful movement of the horse really captivates you as an audience. It is also similar to my narrative being that it is based on a story about a wild mustang getting captured and longing to be free.
Throughout the Spirit and his fellow horses communicate with each other through sounds and body language. The horses thoughts are narrated by a voice actor, which makes it easy to follow the personal narrative. It is a great reference and source of inspiration for me during my process of animating.
Brave. (2012). [film] Directed by B. Chapman. Walt Disney Animation.
Beauty and the Beast. (1992). [film] Directed by G. Trousdale and K. Wise. Walt Disney Animation.
Frozen. (2013). [film] Directed by J. Lee and C. Buck. Walt Disney Animation.
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. (2002). [film]. Dreamworks Animation.
Tangled. (2011). [film] Directed by B. Howard and N. Greno. Walt Disney Animation.
The Aristocats. (1970). [film] Directed by W. Reitherman. Walt Disney Animation.
Takahashi, D. (2019). Bringing characters to life with Pixar’s animator magic (interview). [online] VentureBeat. Available at: https://venturebeat.com/2013/04/24/how-pixars-animators-bring-characters-to-life-with-magic-interview/ [Accessed 26 Feb. 2019].
BuzzFeed. (2019). The Ultimate Ranking Of Animated Disney Horses. [online] Available at: https://www.buzzfeed.com/mathewguiver/the-ultimate-ranking-of-disney-horses [Accessed 26 Feb. 2019].
Themarysue.com. (2019). [online] Available at: https://www.themarysue.com/disney-horses/ [Accessed 26 Feb. 2019].