Everybody knows the name and face of Mickey Mouse. The iconic figure has been the face of Disney since his creation. And he’s still the most famous animal figure in the movie world to this day. As famous as Mickey might be, he isn’t the only mouse to grace the silver screen in the annals of Disney’s movie history. Next to Mickey and Minnie, most audiences probably instantly think back to Bernard and Miss Bianca A.K.A. The Rescuers. There is at least one more mouse whose name is likely less prominent in audiences’ minds when asked about famous Disney figures. That mouse is none other than Basil of Baker Street.
Basil is the mouse counterpart to author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famed detective, Sherlock Holmes. He’s the star of Disney’s 1986 animated feature, The Great Mouse Detective. The Great Mouse Detective has never enjoyed the popularity of The Rescuers or of any of Mickey Mouse’s adventures. But it’s still a fun movie for any fan of mysteries. One factor that makes The Great Mouse Detective enjoyable is the understanding of how much work went into bringing this film to life. While it’s somewhat short, the bonus “making of” featurette contains some information that will make for a new appreciation for this story. In that same vein, the work that went into bringing The Great Mouse Detective to life included making a believable story and equally believable characters. All of this combined makes it a movie that deserves more attention and credit than what it has gotten in the almost three decades since its debut.
The new Blu-ray/DVD combo pack re-issue of The Great Mouse Detective includes a short bonus “Making of” featurette pointing out that it took four years for this movie to come to life. It goes on to point out that a major reason (of not the reason) was the combination of computer based graphics and hand drawn animation. This movie was the first ever in which Disney actually used computer graphics to any extent. As viewers will see in the bonus feature, a lot of work was put into making the final conflict between Basil and Ratigan happen. The feature points out that the clockworks inside Big Ben were created largely by computer. That meant taking extensive lengths in order to mix the CG and hand drawn animation without losing the film’s integrity. The animators behind this mix and the rest of the movie’s animation are to be commended for the work put into making this happen.
The animators behind The Great Mouse Detective went into painstaking detail in order to make its animation stand out. So did the writers responsible for making the story happen. Viewers don’t have to have read the books on which this movie is based to be able to enjoy it. It’s a simple story that presents a good guy (Basil), a bad guy (Ratigan) and a mystery. Even more interesting is that in its own way, the writing staff behind the movie made it even more believable in that they made Basil flawed. Here is a character that starts out as a pompous, arrogant individual. But as the story progresses, audiences see him become warmer and more caring towards Olivia Flaversham. Olivia originally comes to Basil after her father is abducted by Ratigan’s henchman Fidget. Basil’s personal growth and his relationship to Olivia is a secondary storyline to that of his search for Ratigan. But it makes the story more heartwarming, and in turn, more enjoyable.
One of the most important factors of any movie script’s success is suspension of disbelief. The Great Mouse Detective has a story that easily allows audiences to suspend their disbelief. As a matter of fact, the main story and its intertwining story will pull in audiences with ease. No story is believable without equally believable characters. And believable characters are exactly what the movie has. Basil’s personal growth makes him more relatable and endearing to audiences. On the other side of the spectrum, Professor Ratigan is equally vile and despicable. If there’s one thing that Disney has always had the ability to do, it’s creating great villains. And thanks to the voice acting of the late, great Vincent Price, Ratigan jumps off the screen. He wastes little time establishing himself as an all out bad guy. That he feeds other mice to his “pet” cat without remorse is itself worthy of the title “evil.” Audiences will instantly find themselves booing him. That means from Price to the writers, everyone involved in bringing Ratigan to life did everything right.
As one can see, so much went into bringing The Great Mouse Detective to life. From making the art to the story to its characters, the work involved in making this movie a reality paid off. It is a good movie not just for fans of the mystery genre, but for anyone who is a fan of Disney’s history. The new Blu-ray/DVD combo pack is available in stores and online now. It can be ordered direct via Disney’s online shop at http://www.disneystore.com/the-great-mouse-detective-special-edition-blu-ray-and-dvd-combo-pack/mp/1319926/1000316/.
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