Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ursula in The Little Mermaid

The sea-witch Ursula wields her magic in both The Little Mermaid feature film and its stage version. As with the majority (if not all) of Disney mages, Ursula specializes in transformative magic, which she uses to plot against both King Triton, the ruler of sub-aquatic Atlantica, and his daughter Ariel. Ursula is clearly presented as wicked (like fellow Disney witches Maleficent, Mim, Narissa, and the Wicked Queen), but her evil is compounded by the fact, as revealed in paratexts to the original film, that Ursula is in fact Triton's sister--both are the children of Poseidon--and thus, Ariel's aunt. Ursula presents her raison d'ĂȘtre in the song "I Want the Good Times Back" (below) from the stage show, and works her magics in "Poor Unfortunate Souls", presented in its two incarnations.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Mary Poppins's Magic

Marry Poppins, based on the character created by P. L. Travers, represents yet another magic-user in the Disney film library, and her adventures have also been adapted for the stage in a musical that merges episodes from the film with additional elements from Travers's novels. Poppins seems to be a sort of witch, as Chris Cuomo argues in “Spinsters and Sensible Shoes: Mary Poppins and Bedknobs and Broomsticks,” and has a wide-range of powers and a collection of magical items. Like the other Disney mages, Poppins's magic is also transformative both physically and, albeit subtly, mentally, and, like many magic-users featured in children's stories, she serves as an educative force in her temporary stewardship of the Bank's family.

Tinker Bell as Magic-User

Created by J. M. Barrie, Tinker Bell, yet another fairy, also has magic powers as featured in various productions of Peter Pan (some included below), and, like Fairy Godmothers and Blue Fairies, her magic is (partially) transformative in that it allows the Darling children, Pan himself (one assumes), and Pan's other allies to fly. Tinker Bell is also important for her narrative role as Pan's cast-off "lover," which results in her actions against Wendy Darling, activities that almost cause the death of Pan and, very nearly Tinker Bell's own death. Tinker Bell's role is extended in continuations of Peter Pan, like Hook, Peter Pan and the Pirates, Peter Pan No Boken, Return to Never Land, and Disney's various Tinker Bell-themed direct-to-video productions. Further details on the character can be found on her Wikipedia page.

Magic-Users of Sid & Marty Krofft

Two children's television series by Sid & Marty Krofft also prominently featured magic-users.

First, H. R. Pufnstuf (1969-71) featured Billie Hayes as Wilhelmina W. Witchiepoo, a hag-like witch in the tradition of the Wicked Witch of the West and the Wicked Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The series' opening can be seen at YouTube at

Later, Lidsville (1971-73) featured Charles Nelson Reilly in a dual role. First, he is Merlo the Great, the stage magician who performs in the series opening and whose hat forms the portal to the otherworld of Lidsville, and, then, he is Horatio J. HooDoo, the monster-like antagonist of the series who, like Merlo, dresses in the attire of a stage magician.

Yen Sid from Fantasia (1942)

The wizard Yen Sid (also addressed in "The Way of the Wizard") is another Merlin-like mage and likewise serves in a mentoring role.

The Pagemaster (1994)

The Pagemaster includes a Merlin-like wizard (spotlighted about :48 in) as the guide to the film's young protagonist, as I address in "The Way of the Wizard."

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pharaoh's mages from The Prince of Egpyt (1998)

Pharaoh's high priests (voiced by Steve Martin and Martin Short) invoke the gods of ancient Egypt in their attempt to use magic to challenge the miraculous powers of Yahweh wielded by Moses in DreamWork's The Prince of Egypt as this clip shows. The song is by Stephen Schwartz, who would later write the musical Wicked.

A Beautiful Enchantress from Beauty and the Beast (1991)

The Enchantress from Disney's Beauty and the Beast represents a more traditional magic-user. She is a version of the Loathly Lady of medieval romance and functions as a tester of the hero as the following illustrates:

The Fairy Godmother from Cinderella (1950)

Here's the second fairy-post. Both the Blue Fairy and the Fairy Godmother (as well as the fairies in Sleeping Beauty (more later) have similar narrative roles as helper/guider of the hero and possess transformative magic.

The Blue Fairy from Pinocchio (1940)

I'm still undecided if magic creatures, like fairies, can be considered Reel Wizards, but here is the first of two from Disney.

Blog Updates

It's been a while since I posted to the blog, and, while I hope to more in the near future, I am today any some links to our film list and some links to YouTube for appearances of classic film wizards.