Anyone who grew up in the late-eighties/early-nighties with a VHS collection of animated kids’ movies is undoubtably familiar with Gary Goldman’s work. After leaving Disney with Don Bluth at the end of the seventies, Goldman and Bluth created a run of films that captured the dark, compelling mood of early Disney films like Bambi or Dumbo. You know, the ones where bad things happened to the moms?
As a member of that exact demographic, I remember my frequently popping a tape of The Land Before Time or All Dogs Go To Heaven out of its clamshell case to entertain me and my brothers for a couple hours. As the oldest sibling, I can remember my younger brothers going through obsessive phases with The Land Before Time, watching it, literally, dozens and dozens of times. I beleive the reason these films resonated so well with young audiences was that they contained just the right portion of adult content. Not anything explicit or racy or the banal pop-culture jokes for the parents of Shrek, but rather a handful of scenes that were a little too scary or dealt with topics to vast — like death — for most children to process.
Rather than being scared by these moments, I think it encourages children to rewatch the film, over and over, so that they can better understand these moments. When you aim slightly ahead of the child’s worldview, you end up with material that they take something away from, rather than grow out of instantly.
Anyways, enough about my precious childhood memories. Cohort IV was lucky enough to have Gary Goldman digitally visit our classroom Tuesday and share his views on Disney, animation, and the art of telling stories to children.