10 Best Old Cartoon Movies

Friday, March 4 by William Gish

When compiling the 10 best cartoon movies, it’s easy to simply list a handful of classic Disney films and leave it at that. In an effort to present a more well-rounded offering, we’ve integrated some left field choices. Enjoy.

  1. “Fantasia” In 1940, “Fantasia” was avant-garde. While it’s easy to take the film for granted given its classic status, think about it: More than two hours of short, sometimes abstract, animated bits emphasizing texture over story and set to a wildly undulating score. It’s a great film and one of the best old cartoon movies.
  2. “The Adventures of Prince Achmed” What is “The Adventures of Prince Achmed”? Glad you asked. It’s a German film from 1926 that also happens to be the oldest surviving full-length animated film. In the film, a young prince and his flying steed meet a witch, battle demons, befriend Aladdin and embark on other magical adventures. It is far and away one of the best old cartoon movies. 
  3. “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind” Master Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki has produced a number of classic films over the years and “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind,” released in 1984, is the first of these. This movie is a mythically proportioned tale of warring clans in a magical land filled with alien creatures and flying machines.
  4. “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” Released in 1937, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” was the first feature-length Disney film and is certainly one of the best old cartoon movies. The movie set the template for all full-length American animations to come and is a model of tight, timeless, direct storytelling.
  5. “Animal Farm” The British animated adaptation of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” was the first animated feature from the United Kingdom to receive an international release. One of the best old cartoon movies, the film manages to move swiftly while retaining all of the political implications of the book.
  6. “Princess Iron Fan” The first animated Chinese film, “Princess Iron Fan” was released in 1941 in the midst of the Sino-Japanese War. It was made by the Wans, four Chines brothers who frequently collaborated in various combinations and dominated Chinese animation in its infancy. The movie is an adaptation of a popular folk take. Because of its innovation, playfulness and originality, it is one of the best old cartoon movies.
  7. “The New Gulliver” This stop-motion animated Russian cartoon presents a communist spin on the classic tale by presenting Lilliput as a capitalist land of vast inequality in which the oppressed, working class Lilliputians are subject to the cruelly intentioned whims of the ruling class. It’s a fun and very weird old cartoon.
  8. “Bambi” Thumper and Bambi: one of cinema’s greatest duos. The scene in which the anonymous hunter kills Bambi’s mother: one of cinema’s greatest tragedies. The message of perseverance and rejuvenation presented in a manner clearly understood by generations of children makes this movie one of the best old cartoon movies.
  9. “Momotaro no Umiwashi” The title for this 1943 animated Japanese propaganda film means “Momotaro’s Sea Eagles.” It is an extremely bizarre film that incorporates animated nationalistic military sequences featuring popular folk tale characters and actual footage of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It’s an extremely interesting historical piece.
  10. “Lady and the Tramp” Of all the many animated films both old and new stuffed to the brim with talking animals, “Lady and the Tramp” is the most charming. The film plays like “Romeo and Juliet” for the canine set and includes one of the most charmingly romantic scenes in film, animated or not: two dogs coming to the end of the same noodle and kissing.  
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