Let’s reach back into the childhood vault and talk about Atlantis: The Lost Empire.
This movie is arguably one of the most creative of the Disney movies, and it is very underrated by the general public. And I know personally, this movie has influenced my own imagination and artistic ventures. The movie has so much good stuff in its art development and world building, I’m only going to address a few key points in this post and then more on future posts.
Not the Disney style
What’s eye-catching about this film is the visual style: it’s not the Disney “norm.” Over the years Walt Disney Studios has changed and adapted the style of the animations, however there is a general Disney “feel” that reaches back all the way to the first movie, Snow White, and even before then with shorts like “Goddess of Spring.”
There’s a definitive “comic” feel to the movie, which makes a considerable amount of sense since one of the major influencers on the visuals of the movie was Mike Mignola, of Hellboy fame.
When they were working on the animation itself, they heavily referenced Mignola’s dynamic and unique art style and how he illustrated explosions.
It is also worth noting that Atlantis was created around the time that Disney released The Emperor’s New Groove (2000) and Treasure Planet (2002), with both movies being an extreme divergent from Disney’s traditional style and themes.
Atlantean and the Shepherd’s Journal
They pulled out all the stops for Atlantis, even going so far as getting Marc Okrand (creator of the Klingon language) to help them create the Atlantean language. In the movie itself, a few lines here and there are spoken, but throughout the film phrases and words are written in the background and even hold prolific roles (such as what’s written in the Shepherd’s Journal).
And going off the idea of the Shepherd’s Journal, it’s clear where the overall inspiration for the book came from.
Illuminated Manuscripts are an incredible artform, with the Book of Kells being one of the most well-known. The name “Illuminated Manuscripts” refers to the fact that the text written inside has small illustrations and borders to decorate or emphasize the pages.
Illuminated manuscripts have a long and rich history in Europe, and they have a very distinct appearance to them.
Many covers are gilded and have semi-precious and precious stones set in them, as well as an image of the crucifixion (since a number of Illuminated Manuscripts are bibles or collections of the Gospels).
Illuminated manuscripts were hand-made and hand-painted, so each is unique and special. Many cultures have different forms of them, too. A number of Muslim countries also have illuminated manuscripts. Although with Islamic cultures, it’s strictly forbidden to show figures in religious art. Instead, they focus on calligraphy and the beauty of words.
What about Atlantis: The Lost Empire has inspired you? Do you have any fun memories about the story? What do you think of the world created for it?