Sunday, December 7, 2008

Breakfast and a Movie

In the mid-'90s my wife collected the Disney animated classics "Collector Series" cups from Burger King and Coca-Cola (this was before we met). There were eight total in the series, and she had them all. They are plastic, 16 ounce tumblers with a full color movie poster-type image of the movie on one side and a short description of the movie on the opposite side.

A couple years ago, my wife was going through the stuff she had stored in her parents' basement, came across these cups, a
nd brought them into our home. Now, these aren't the kind of cups you display or put out for company. I think I'm the only one in the family who uses the cups regularly: I drink my morning glass of orange juice from one of them every day. Because of that, I've read the backs of each of these cups many, many times and -- I guess the word is "impresses" -- what impresses me about them is those movie summaries. Whoever wrote them is a master of word economy.

Reducing a 90 minute movie down to a paragraph is no mean feat. And to be able to do that and still communicate the key plot points and mention all the main characters is pretty remarkable. Take Aladdin, for example...
It's the magic carpet ride of a lifetime as Aladdin, with his pet monkey, Abu, takes to the streets of Agrabah for survival, fun and adventure. Aladdin falls in love with the free-spirited Princess Jasmine. But he believes she would never love a street rat like him. Aladdin's luck changes with one rub of a magic lamp, releasing the shape-shifting, fun-loving, wish-giving, all-powerful Genie, who turns him into a Prince. In the final battle, Aladdin must overcome the evil sorcerer, Jafar, in order to win Jasmine's heart!
I mean, they even worked the monkey into the synopsis! Double points! Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Disney's first masterpiece can be reduced to a mere 93 words...
"Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?" When the Magic Mirror responded that Snow White was the fairest in the land, her jealous stepmother, the Queen, vowed to cast a spell on her. Fleeing from the castle, Snow White made her home deep in the forest with the Seven Dwarfs. But not even Snow White's seven friends could protect her from the Queen's evil curse which only true love could break. Fortunately, the Prince of her dreams awakens her with love's first kiss, and they live happily ever after.
On the other hand, perhaps the descriptions just further illustrate how vacant Disney's animated classics really are, in that they can be accurately and completely summed up in 100 words or less.