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Hercules (1997)

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Hercules
220px-Hercules movie poster.jpg
Directed by Ron Clements
John Musker
Produced by Ron Clements
John Musker
Alice Dewey
Written by Ron Clements
John Musker
Barry Johnson
Starring Tate Donovan
Josh Keaton
Roger Bart
Danny DeVito
James Woods
Susan Egan
Rip Torn
Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures
Release date(s) June 27, 1997
Running time 93 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Preceded by The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
Followed by Mulan (1998)

Hercules is a 1997 animated feature produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures on June 27, 1997. The thirty-fifth animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, this film was directed by Ron Clements & John Musker. The film is based on the legendary Greek mythology hero Heracles (as known as his Roman name Hercules), the son of Zeus in Greek mythology.

Though Hercules did not match the financial success of the Disney Renaissance Era, the film received positive reviews, and made $99 million in revenue in the United States during its theatrical release and $252,712,101 worldwide.

Hercules was later followed by the direct-to-video prequel Hercules: Zero to Hero, which served as a prequel to Hercules: The Animated Series, a syndicated Disney TV series focusing on Hercules during his time at the Prometheus academy.

Plot Edit

Once upon a Time after Zeus, ruler of the Greek gods of Mount Olympus, defeats the Titans and locks them deep in the bowels of the earth, he and his wife Hera give birth to a son, Hercules. All the gods of Olympus celebrate Hercules' birth except for Zeus' jealous brother Hades his Uncle, who was forced by Zeus to work as lord of the dead in the Underworld, and seeks to overthrow his brother. Hades learns from the Fates that in eighteen years, a planetary alignment will reveal the location of where the Titans are trapped, allowing him to free them and take over Olympus, but only if Hercules doesn't interfere. Hades sends his minions Pain and Panic to kidnap Hercules, bring him to Earth, and kill him after giving him a potion that will turn him mortal. However, Pain and Panic are unable to give Hercules the entire potion which, while still making him mortal, allows him to retain his godlike strength. Hercules is then found by a farmer and his wife, who raise him as their own son.

Over the next sixteen years, Hercules grows up into a misfit, his strength seen as a nuisance to all the locals. After being rejected by the townsfolk when he accidentally destroys the marketplace, Hercules questions where he truly belongs. His foster parents reveal how they found him with a medallion bearing the symbol of the gods, so Hercules travels to the Temple of Zeus, where the almighty god's statue comes to life and reveals his past and true lineage. Zeus explains that Hercules can become a god again and return to Olympus if he can become a true hero, so he sets out on his old childhood friend Pegasus to find the satyr Philoctetes a trainer of heroes. Phil has long-since retired after failing to train a successful hero, but is convinced to train Hercules.

After his training is complete, Hercules sets out with Phil and Pegasus to the city of Thebes to prove his newfound worth. Along the way, Hercules saves a woman named Megara from being pestered by the centaur Nessus, and becomes attracted to her. Unbeknownst to Hercules, Meg is in league with Hades after selling her soul to save a man she once loved, but had left her for another woman. Discovering Hercules to still be alive, Hades sets up a trap for him outside of Thebes where he is forced to battle the Hydra. However, Hercules manages to defeat the Hydra, and is praised by all of Thebes as a hero, during the song "Zero to Hero", is shown to dispatch every other monster Hades sends against him. Hercules is treated like a celebrity, but Zeus informs him that he is not a true hero yet.

Meg is sent by Hades to find his weakness, but she falls in love with him instead. Phil discovers Meg to be working for Hades and attempts to warn Hercules, but abandons him after an ensuing argument. Realizing that Meg is Hades' weakness, he uses her to make a deal with Hercules in which he must give up his powers for an entire day in exchange for Meg's safety, using this time to free the Titans and take over Olympus, while Hercules is crushed by Meg's deception and loses the will to fight. One of the Titans, a Cyclops, is sent to Thebes to eliminate Hercules. Meg convinces Phil to return to Hercules, motivating him into battling and defeating the Cyclops through improvisation. However, Meg is mortally wounded by a falling column to save Hercules, though it breaks Hades' deal of Meg not being harmed and restoration Hercules' powers, allowing him to defeat the Titans. Unfortunately, he is too late to save Meg from dying. Hercules confronts Hades in the Underworld and offers his soul to reclaim Meg's. Hades accepts, but only if Hercules can reclaim it in the River Styx, gradually saps his life force as he swims. Hercules will to sacrifice his life for Meg awakens Hercules as a true hero and restoration his status as an immortal god. Hercules successfully retrieves Meg's soul and punches Hades into the River Styx, where he is dragged to the depths by vengeful souls.

The film ends, which Hercules returns Meg's soul to her body and brings her back to life and is brought to Olympus where the gods welcome him back into his old home, however, Hercules is unable to live without Meg and Zeus allows him to stay on Earth as a mortal to stay with the one he loves, Zeus creates a ghost of Hercules appears in the clouds in the night sky allowing the world to hail him as a true hero if the wait is over Hercules.

ProductionEdit

When Walt Disney Feature Animation begin plan Hercules in late 1991, while still in production on its thirty-first animated feature Aladdin.

After the critical and financial success of Aladdin, directors Ron Clements and John Musker developed Treasure Planet in late 1991, which was originally pitched by Ron Clements in 1986 before John Musker pitched The Little Mermaid. According to Ron Clements, Jeffrey Katzenberg, who was the chief of Walt Disney Studios at the time, "just wasn't interested" in the idea, and likewise disapproved of the project again. However, Katzenberg struck a deal with the directors to produce another commercially viable film so he would greenlight Treasure Planet at all. Turning down adaptation proposals for Don Quixote, The Odyssey, and Around the World in Eighty Days, the directors were notified of animator Joe Haidar's pitch for a Hercules feature. "We thought it would be our opportunity to do a "superhero" movie," Musker said, so "Ron and I being comic book fans. The studio liked us moving onto that project and so we did Hercules.

Writing the role of Philoctetes, John Musker and Ron Clements envisioned Danny DeVito in the role. However, Danny DeVito declined to audition so Ed Asner, Ernest Borgnine, Dick Latessa were brought in to read for the part. After Red Buttons had auditioned, he left stating "I know what you're gonna do. You're gonna give this part to Danny DeVito!" Shortly after, the directors and producer Alice Dewey approached Danny DeVito at a pasta lunch during the filming of Matilda, where Danny DeVito signed on to the role.

The casting of Hades proved to be very problematic for John Musker and Ron Clements. When Danny DeVito asked the directors who had in mind to play Hades, John Musker and Ron Clements responded by saying they hadn't selected an appropriate actor. In response, Danny DeVito blurted, "Why don't you ask Jack Nicholson?" After Danny DeVito notified Nicholson of the project, the next week, the studio was willing to pay Nicholson $500,000 for the role, but Nicholson demanded roughly a paycheck of $10 to $15 million, plus a 50% cut of all the proceeds from Hades merchandise. Unwilling to share merchandising proceeds with the actor, Disney came back with a counter offer that was significantly less than what Nicholson had asked for. Therefore, Nicholson decided to pass on the project. Disappointed by the lack of Nicholson, Ron Clements and John Musker eventually selected John Lithgow as Hades in late 1991. After nine months of trying to make Lithgow's portrayal of Hades work, Lithgow was released from the role in 1994. According to John Musker, Ron Silver, James Coburn, Kevin Spacey, Phil Hartman, and Rod Steiger arrived to the Disney studios to read as Hades. When they invited James Woods to read for the part, the filmmakers were surprised by Woods's interpretation, and Woods was hired by 1994.

The character design was based on Greek states and artist Gerald Scarfe from Pink Floyd The Wall, each major character in Hercules had a supervising animator Andreas Deja for Adult Hercules, commented that the animation crew he with to animate was the he ever worked with, he previous worked on other animated Disney villains (such as Gaston from Beauty and the Beast, Jafar from Aladdin or Uncle Scar from Lion King) with about four animators on his crew, but he had a team of twelve or thirteen for Hercules. Give Deja had worked with three villains before, he was first offered Hades, but asked to animate the protagonist instead, Deja says "I knew if would be more difficult and more challenging, but I just needed that experience to have that in your repertoire". One is the myth of Bellerophon, from which was taken the winged horse Pegasus and the scene where Hercules is swallowed by the Hydra (for Perseus it was the dragon Cetus) and cuts his way out. Another is the myth of Orpheus, who goes to the underworld to try to bring back his love, Eurydice.

The enthusiastic audience reception to a teaser trailer for Hercules with the song "Zero to Hero" during the teaser trailer for this film, while both Hercules and Mulan were commercial successes, Hercules received more post feedback and earned larger grossed than did with Mulan was released in 1998. This film was released in the Summer of 1997, however, Ron Clements & John Musker have not been working on Mulan, they have been working on Treasure Planet, as well as The Princess and the Frog.

Marketing and promotion for Hercules Summer Spectacular premiere at the New Amsterdam Theater in New York City's Famous Time Square on June 13, 1997 before the film's theatrical release, in the past two years prior to its theatrical run such as Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Hercules was also received the first Disney on Ice adaptation before the film was theatrical release. A tie-in video game, titled Hercules Action Game, was developed by Eurocom and released on June 20, 1997 for the PC and PlayStation.

A video game based on the film was released for the PlayStation and Microsoft Windows on June 20, 1997, later put on the PlayStation Network online service for the PlayStation 3.

Home MediaEdit

This film was first released on home video on February 3, 1998 in the US as part of the Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection line and a Limited Issue DVD came out on November 9, 1999, followed by a re-issue title to VHS and DVD on August 1, 2000 as part of the Walt Disney Gold Classics Collection line. This film was originally released on 2-Disc DVD in the Spring 2007 to celebrates its 10th anniversary, instead Peter Pan: Platinum Edition was released on March 6, 2007 and this was out-of-print since went back into the Disney Vault in January 2009, along with the same time as The Little Mermaid: Platinum Edition did. This film was re-released as a Special Edition Blu-ray Combo Pack on August 12, 2014, which is not part of the Walt Disney Diamond Editions line.

CreditsEdit

Voice castEdit

Actor Role
Tate Donovan Hercules
Danny DeVito Philoctetes
James Woods Hades
Susan Egan Megara
Rip Torn Zeus
Bobcat Goldthwait Pain
Matt Frewer Panic
Josh Keaton Young Hercules
Jim Cummings Nessus
Paul Shaffer Hermes
Lilias White Calliope, Muse of Epics
Vanéese Y. Thomas Clio, Muse of History
Cheryl Freeman Melpomene, Muse of Tragedy
La Chanze Terpsichore, Muse of Dance
Roz Ryan Thalia, Muse of Comedy
Charlton Heston The Narrator
Wayne Knight The Pottery Salesman
Jim Cummings Additional Voices

Singing voices

Singer Role
Roger Bart Young Hercules

SoundtrackEdit

  1. Long Ago...
  2. The Gospel Truth I/Main Titles
  3. The Gospel Truth II
  4. The Gospel Truth III
  5. Go The Distance
  6. Oh Mighty Zeus
  7. Go The Distance (Reprise)
  8. One Last Hope
  9. Zero To Hero
  10. I Won't Say (I'm In Love)
  11. A Star Is Born
  12. Go The Distance (Single) - Michael Bolton
  13. The Big Olive
  14. The Prophecy
  15. Destruction Of The Agora
  16. Phil's Island
  17. Rodeo Listen
  18. Speak Of The Devil
  19. The Hydra Battle
  20. Meg's Garden
  21. Hercules' Villa (Score)
  22. All Time Chump (Score)
  23. Cutting the Thread (Score)
  24. A True Hero/A Star Is Born (End Title)

TriviaEdit

  • Disney's Hercules and some of the other major characters have also been used in Disney's House of Mouse. There is a brief cameo appearance by Scar, the villain of The Lion King, as the Nemean Lion, whose skin is worn by Hercules in one scene. Note: Andreas Deja, the animator who animated Adult Hercules, also animated Scar for The Lion King.
  • When Hercules walks into Phil's house on the island, he hits his head on the mast of the Argo. Phil tells him to be careful. This is a reference to Jason of the legends of "Jason and the Argonauts", who died when the mast of the Argo fell on him. (In the actual Greek myths, Hercules, or Heracles rather, was an Argonaut himself, but left the crew of the Argo because he was in search of his friend, Hylas, who had gone missing on an island).
  • The Pillars of Hercules were spotted on Phil's Island.
  • In Greek mythology, Hades, though the god of the Underworld, was not the personification of the devil as he is portrayed in the film. He ruled both the good AND the bad, and was a just and fair god. This idea is seemingly taken from the Hades of the Marvel Universe who wanted to overthrow Zeus and was an ambitious, scheming god.
  • Hercules was not the son of both Zeus and Hera, but rather the son of Zeus and a mortal woman. Hera was spiteful against both, and vexed Hercules until his death. Disney felt that the original myth of Hercules, with its story of infidelity and spousal jealousy, was inappropriate for its movie, and therefore made Hades the villain instead.
  • Hades was originally scripted as a slow, menacing character until James Wood auditioned for the role and impressed the casting directors with his rapid-fire style.
  • In the sequence where Hades takes over Olympus, he yells down to Zeus "Zeusy, I'm Home." This is a reference to Ricky Ricardo on I Love Lucy.
  • The characters from this film appear in the video game Kingdom Hearts and also its sequel, Kingdom Hearts II.
  • A direct-to-video sequel, Hercules II: The Trojan War, was once planned but later cancelled.
  • Hercules' short attention span can be seen in * the character of Marvels' Hercules.
  • After Hercules saves Meg from Nessus the Centaur, Phil tells him, "Next time, don't let your guard down because of a pair of big goo-goo eyes". The line originally came out as, "Next time, don't let your guard down because of a pair of big, blue eyes". But, by the time the scene was in colour, Meg's eyes were purple.
  • Max von Sydow provided the voice of Zeus in the Swedish version of the film.

Pop-culture referencesEdit

  • Hades refers to Zeus as Mister "Hey You, Get Off My Cloud", which is a reference to the Rolling Stones song, "Get Off My Cloud," as well as the opening line to the song "M.E.T.H.O.D. Man" by The Wu-Tang Clan.
  • Hermes gives Hera a bouquet of flowers, a play on F.T.D. Florists, who use him as their mascot.
  • "Go the Distance" is a term from boxing, meaning to last all fifteen rounds. It is also a quote from Rocky.
  • A beverage that Hercules sponsors is named "Herculade", a spoof of Gatorade.
  • "Air Herc", a brand of sandal seen throughout the film are a spoof of the shoe brand Air Jordan.
  • During the song "I Won't Say I'm in Love," the Muses are portrayed as singing busts with one bust laying broken on the ground. This is a direct reference to Disneyland's The Haunted Mansion.
  • During the same sequence, a constellation of Marilyn Monroe can be seen. However, in the original trailer, it was Sebastian from The Little Mermaid.
  • Marilyn Monroe also appears in a Sea of Souls in the film's climax.
  • During the scene in the movie where Hercules is rescuing two children from a cave-in in a gorge (which was actually a staged calamity to lure Hercules into danger,) one of the children can be heard saying; "Someone call IX I I", which are the Roman numerals for 9-1-1.
  • During the final number, "A Star is Born", Hermes can be seen playing the piano, a reference to Paul Shaffer, who is the voice of the character and the piano player on The Late Show With David Letterman.
  • The sentence, "Zero to Hero" was used as one of Quagmire pick-up-lines in Family Guy.

External linksEdit

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