Hercules (1997 film)
|Directed by||Ron Clements
|Produced by||Ron Clements
|Written by||Ron Clements
|Narrated by||Charlton Heston|
|Music by||Alan Menken|
|Editing by||Tom Finan
|Studio||Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Feature Animation
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
|Running time||93 minutes|
Hercules is a 1997 American animated musical fantasy film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures. The 35th animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, the film was directed by Ron Clements and John Musker. The film is based on the legendary Greek mythology hero Heracles (known in the film by his Roman name, Hercules), the son of Zeus, in Greek mythology.
Though Hercules did not match the financial success of Disney's early-1990s releases, 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 midquel to Hercules: The Animated Series, a syndicated Disney TV series focusing on Hercules during his time at the Prometheus academy.
After imprisoning the Titans beneath the ocean, the Greek gods Zeus and his wife Hera have a son named Hercules. While the other gods are joyful, Zeus' jealous brother Hades plots to overthrow Zeus and rule Mount Olympus. Turning to the Fates for help, Hades learns that in eighteen years, a planetary alignment will allow Hades to locate and free the Titans to conquer Olympus, but only if Hercules does not interfere. Hades sends his minions Pain and Panic to dispose of Hercules. The two succeed at kidnapping and feeding him a formula that turns him mortal, but fail to remove his superhuman strength before Hercules is found and adopted by the farmers Amphitryon and Alcmene.
Years later, the teenaged Hercules becomes an outcast due to his strength, and wonders where he came from. After his foster parents reveal the necklace they found him with, Hercules decides to visit the temple of Zeus for answers. The temple's statue of Zeus comes to life and reveals all to Hercules, telling him that he can regain his godhood by becoming a "true hero". Zeus sends Hercules and his forgotten infant-hood friend Pegasus to find the satyr Philoctetes—"Phil" for short—who is known for training heroes. The two meet Phil, who has retired from training heroes due to numerous disappointments, but Hercules inspires him to follow his dream to train a true hero who will be recognized by the gods. Phil trains Hercules into a potential hero, and when he is older, they fly for Thebes. On the way, they meet Megara—"Meg" for short—a sarcastic damsel whom Hercules saves from the centaur Nessus. However, after Hercules, Phil, and Pegasus leave, Meg is revealed to be Hades' minion, having sold her soul to him to save an unfaithful lover.
Arriving in Thebes, Hercules is turned down by the downtrodden citizens until Meg says that two boys are trapped in a gorge. Hercules saves them, unaware that they are Pain and Panic in disguise, allowing Hades to summon the Hydra to fight Hercules. Hercules continually cuts off its heads, but more heads replace them until Hercules kills the monster by causing a landslide. Hercules is seen as a hero and a celebrity, but Zeus tells Hercules he is not yet a true hero. Driven to depression, Hercules turns to Meg, who is falling in love with him. Hades learns of this and on the eve of his takeover, offers a deal that Hercules give up his powers for twenty-four hours on the condition that Meg will be unharmed. Hercules accepts, losing his strength, and is heartbroken when Hades reveals that Meg is working for him.
Hades unleashes the Titans who climb Olympus and capture the gods, while a Cyclops goes to Thebes to kill Hercules. Phil inspires Hercules to fight and kill the cyclops, but Meg is crushed by a falling pillar saving Hercules from it, allowing him to regain his strength. Hercules and Pegasus fly to Olympus where they free the gods and launch the Titans into space where they explode, though Meg dies before he returns to her. With Meg's soul now Hades' property, Hercules breaks into the Underworld where he negotiates with Hades to free Meg from the Styx in exchange for his own life. His willingness to sacrifice his life restores his godhood and immortality before the life-draining river can kill him, and he rescues Meg and punches Hades into the Styx. After reviving Meg, she and Hercules are summoned to Olympus where Zeus and Hera welcome their son home. However, Hercules chooses to remain on Earth with Meg. Hercules returns to Thebes where he is hailed as a true hero as Zeus creates a picture of Hercules in the stars commemorating his heroism.
- Tate Donovan as Hercules, based on the mythological deity Heracles. Supervising animator Andreas Deja described Hercules as "...not a smart aleck, not streetwise, he's just a naive kid trapped in a big body", and that Donovan "had a charming yet innocent quality in his readings". Donovan had not done any voice-over work prior to Hercules. Deja integrated Donovan's "charming yet innocent quality" into Hercules' expressions.
- Danny DeVito as Philoctetes/Phil. Eric Goldberg, the supervising animator for Philoctetes, cited Grumpy in Snow White and Bacchus in Fantasia as the inspirations for the character's design. Goldberg mentioned that they discovered that Danny DeVito "has really different mouth shapes" when they videotaped his recordings and that they used these shapes in animating Phil.
- James Woods as Hades. Producer Alice Dewey mentioned that Hades "was supposed to talk in a slow and be menacing in a quiet, spooky way", but thought that James Woods' manner of speaking "a mile a minute" would be a "great take" for a villain. Woods did a lot of ad-libbing in his recordings, especially in Hades' dialogues with Megara. Nik Ranieri, the supervising animator for Hades, mentioned that the character was "based on a Hollywood agent, a car salesman type", and that a lot came from James Woods' ad-libbed dialogue. He went on to say that the hardest part in animating Hades was that he talks too much and too fast, so much so that "it took [him] two weeks to animate a one-second scene". Ranieri watched James Woods' other films and used what he saw as the basis for Hades' sneer.
- Susan Egan as Megara. Supervising animator Ken Duncan stated that she was "based on a '40s screwball comedienne" and that he used Greek shapes for her hair ("Her head is in sort of a vase shape and she's got a Greek curl in the back.").
- Frank Welker as Pegasus. Ellen Woodbury served as the supervising animator for Pegasus.
- Rip Torn and Samantha Eggar as Zeus and Hera, Hercules' birth-parents. Anthony DeRosa served as the supervising animator for both characters. In the Swedish dub Max von Sydow provided the voice for Zeus.
- Lillias White, Cheryl Freeman, LaChanze, Roz Ryan and Vanéese Y. Thomas as the Muses (Calliope, Melpomene, Terpsichore, Thalia and Clio respectively), the narrators of the film's story. Michael Snow served as the supervising animator for the Muses.
- Bobcat Goldthwait and Matt Frewer as Pain and Panic, Hades' henchmen. James Lopez and Brian Ferguson respectively served as the supervising animators for Pain and Panic.
- Patrick Pinney as the Cyclops. Dominique Monfrey served as the supervising animator for the Cyclops.
- Hal Holbrook and Barbara Barrie as Amphitryon and Alcmene, Hercules' adoptive parents. Richard Bazley served as the supervising animator for both characters.
- Amanda Plummer, Carole Shelley and Paddi Edwards as Clotho, Lachesis, Atropos, the three Fates who predict Hades' attempt to conquer Olympus. Nancy Beiman served as the supervising animator for the three characters.
- Paul Shaffer as Hermes. Michael Swofford served as the animator for Hermes.
- Jim Cummings as Nessus. Chris Bailey served as the animator for Nessus.
- Wayne Knight as Demetrius
- Keith David as Apollo
- Charlton Heston has a cameo role as the opening narrator.
Production for the film took place from late 1994 to early 1997. The character design was based on Greek statues and artist Gerald Scarfe's work in Pink Floyd—The Wall. Each major character in Hercules had a supervising animator. Andreas Deja, the supervising animator for Hercules, commented that the animation crew he worked with to animate Hercules was the "largest [he] ever worked with". He previously worked on other characters (like Gaston in Beauty and the Beast, Jafar in Aladdin, and Scar in The Lion King) with about four animators on his crew, but he had a team of twelve or thirteen for Hercules. Given Deja had worked with three villains before, he was first offered Hades, but asked to animate Hercules instead - "I knew if would be more difficult and more challenging, but I just needed that experience to have that in your repertoire."
|Hercules: An Original Walt Disney Records Soundtrack|
|Soundtrack album by Various artists|
|Released||May 27, 1997|
|Genre||Pop, gospel, soul, R&B|
|Producer||Alan Menken, David Zippel|
|Walt Disney Animation Studios chronology|
Hercules: An Original Walt Disney Records Soundtrack is the soundtrack for Hercules. It consists of music written by composer Alan Menken and lyricist David Zippel, orchestrated by Daniel Troob and Michael Starobin, with vocals performed by Lillias White, LaChanze, Roz Ryan, Roger Bart, Danny DeVito, and Susan Egan among others. The album also includes the successful single version of "Go the Distance" by Michael Bolton. For the Spanish version of the film, "Go the Distance" was redone by Ricky Martin and released as a single under the title "No Importa La Distancia" and was also very successful, both inside and outside the United States. In the Turkish version of the film, "Go the Distance" was sung by Tarkan, who also performed the vocals for the adult Hercules.
"Go the Distance" was nominated for both the Academy Award for Best Original Song and the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song, but ultimately lost both to Celine Dion's hit "My Heart Will Go On" from Titanic.
Belinda Carlisle recorded two versions of "I Won't Say (I'm in Love)" as well as a music video for promotional purposes. Though the English dub eventually opted not to use it, several foreign dubs have it in place of the reprise of "A Star Is Born" in the ending credits. These dubs include, but are not limited to, the Swedish one, the Finnish one, the Icelandic one and the Russian one. Curiously enough, the DVD release of the Swedish dub has replaced it with the reprise of "A Star Is Born".
- "Long Ago..." - Charlton Heston
- The Gospel Truth/Main Title - Lillias White, LaChanze, Roz Ryan, Cheryl Freeman, and Vanéese Y. Thomas
- The Gospel Truth II - Roz Ryan
- The Gospel Truth III - Lillias White, LaChanze, Roz Ryan, Cheryl Freeman, and Vanéese Y. Thomas
- "Go the Distance" - Roger Bart
- Oh Mighty Zeus (Score)
- "Go the Distance (Reprise)" - Roger Bart
- "One Last Hope" - Danny DeVito
- "Zero to Hero" - Tawatha Agee, Lillias White, LaChanze, Roz Ryan, Cheryl Freeman, and Vanéese Y. Thomas
- "I Won't Say (I'm in Love)" - Susan Egan, Lillias White, LaChanze, Roz Ryan, Cheryl Freeman, and Vanéese Y. Thomas
- "A Star Is Born" - Lillias White, LaChanze, Roz Ryan, Cheryl Freeman, and Vanéese Y. Thomas
- "Go the Distance (Single)" - Michael Bolton
- The Big Olive (Score)
- The Prophecy (Score)
- Destruction of the Agora (Score)
- Phil's Island (Score)
- Rodeo (Score)
- Speak of the Devil (Score)
- The Hydra Battle (Score)
- Meg's Garden (Score)
- Hercules' Villa (Score)
- All Time Chump (Score)
- Cutting the Thread (Score)
- A True Hero/A Star Is Born (End Title) - Lillias White, LaChanze, Roz Ryan, Cheryl Freeman, and Vanéese Y. Thomas
|This section requires expansion. (February 2009)|
Marketing and promotion for Hercules began even before the film's theatrical release. Several Hercules toys, books, and other merchandise were produced, and a parade was held at Times Square during the film's premiere two weeks prior to its theatrical run. Hercules was also received the first Disney on Ice adaptation before the film was theatrically released. A tie-in video game, titled Hercules Action Game, was developed by Eurocom and released in July 1997 for the PC and PlayStation.
The film's first home video release, on VHS, was February 3, 1998 in the US as part of the Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection series. A Limited Issue came out on DVD November 9, 1999, followed by on August 1, 2000, a re-issue to VHS and DVD as part of the Walt Disney Gold Classic Collection.
Disney intended for the film to have an open-air premiere at Pnyx hill, but the Greek government declined after Greek media and public panned the film. A Greek newspaper entitled Adsmevtos Typos called it "another case of foreigners distorting our history and culture just to suit their commercial interests".
After a one-theater release on June 15, 1997, Hercules had its wide release on June 27, 1997. With an opening weekend of $21,454,451, it opened at the second spot of the box office, after Face/Off. The film grossed only $99 million on its domestic lifetime, something Disney's executives blamed on "more competition". The international totals for Hercules raised its gross to $253 million.
Film critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote a positive review of the film, enjoying the story as well as the animation. Ebert also praised James Woods' portrayal of Hades, stating that Woods brings "something of the same verbal inventiveness that Robin Williams brought to Aladdin".
Awards and nominations
- Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song - "Go the Distance" (Nominated)
- Best Fantasy Film (Nominated)
- Blockbuster Entertainment Awards
- Favorite Animated Family Movie (Nominated)
- Favorite Song from a Movie - "Go the Distance" (Nominated)
|Nominated||Animated Theatrical Feature|
|Won||Individual Achievement in Producing||Alice Dewey (Producer)
John Musker (Producer)
Ron Clements (Producer)
|Won||Individual Achievement in Directing||John Musker (Director)
Ron Clements (Director)
|Nominated||Individual Achievement in Character Animation||Ken Duncan (Supervising Animator - Meg)|
|Won||Individual Achievement in Character Animation||Nik Ranieri (Supervising Animator - Hades)|
|Won||Individual Achievement in Effects Animation||Mauro Maressa (Effects Supervisor)|
- "Hercules (1997)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-02-03.
- "Hercules (1997)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2008-09-25.
- "The Quick Draw Artists". Disney Adventures: 44–49. September 1997.
- The Soul of 'Hercules', Los Angeles Times
- Interview: Animator Andreas Deja, DVD Movie Guide
- Hercules (Original Score) at AllMusic. Retrieved 4 October 2013.
- Grossman, Wendy (June 26, 1997). "Disney flexes marketing muscle for Hercules". chronicle.augusta.com. Retrieved 2009-01-09.[dead link]
- Gest, Emily (June 10, 1997). "DISNEY'S READY TO ROLL WITH HERCULEAN LABOR". www.nydailynews.com. Retrieved 2009-01-09.
- Wasko, Janet (2001). Understanding Disney: the manufacture of fantasy. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 0-7456-1484-1.
- Disney's Hercules at Eurocom
- Byrne, Ciaran; Julia Llewelyn Smith (October 9, 1997). "Greeks put Hercules on trial". The Nation: C6, C8.
- Weekend Box Office Results for June 27-29, 1997 - Box Office Mojo
- Hercules Is Too Weak to Lift Disney Stock, The New York Times
- Ebert, Roger (1997-06-27). "Hercules review". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved 2010-01-04.
- "1997 (70th)". awardsdatabase.oscars.org. Retrieved 2009-01-09.
- "HFPA Awards Search". www.goldenglobes.org. Retrieved 2009-01-09.
- "Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA: 1998". www.imdb.com. Retrieved 2009-01-09.
- "Blockbuster Entertainment Awards: 1998". www.imdb.com. Retrieved 2009-01-09.
- "Nineteenth Annual Youth in Film Awards 1996-1997". www.youngartistawards.org. Retrieved 2009-01-09.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Hercules|
- Official website
- Hercules at allmovie
- Hercules at the Internet Movie Database
- Hercules at Rotten Tomatoes
- Hercules at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- Hercules at Box Office Mojo