You read that right: Atlantis: The Lost Empire, the curious 2001 flop from the tail end of Disney’s 1990s renaissance, is “the raddest gem in the Disney canon.” Or so argues Ladynightthebrave, a Youtube critic whose half-hour essay on the film, part of Filmjoy’s reliably absorbing Lessons Animation Taught Us series, is our video of the week.
Her fun, well-researched deep dive explains what sets Atlantis apart from other Disney features. She touches on the absence of cute sidekicks, lack of music, eccentric storyline — which draws on the writings of Plato and madcap philosopher Edgar Cayce — and hugely ambitious production, which involved 350 artists across three studios at its peak. One of her burning questions is: how did directing duo Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise get this greenlit?
In the second half, Ladynightthebrave turns to the characterization. She describes Milo, the floppy-haired explorer at the heart of the film, as a “nerdy nice boy,” placing him in a lineage of similar characters from that era. As for the female characters, she makes a case for why they are both progressive and problematic. She concludes by looking at the plot holes and excesses of the production design.