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Animatedly Yours: Tinkerbell’s Comeback


After hearing of the newest Tinkerbell movie, which is to be released in the spring of 2015, Tinkerbell and the Legend of the Neverbeast, I found myself thinking back to the first time we ever met Tinkerbell in Peter Pan (1953). There are drastic differences between the original Tink and the modern one, and some might argue this is done deliberately for good reason.

Original Tink, the one we all know and love (and sometimes don’t love), is a miniature powerhouse. Despite the fact that we can’t understand what she says, she makes sure the attention is on her whenever she can. She’s able to convey so much emotion in everything she does without words. Her body language and facial expressions say it all. Queen of sass, that girl is. She simply can’t stand when another girl catches Peter’s eye and becomes so jealous that she turns bright red. This Tink will stoop so low as to try to get rid of Wendy.

More recently, we have gotten to know Tink in a new way. In her own film series, she is the star and therefore has no reason to demand the spotlight. However, she still manages to attract attention, this time in a more loveable way because she is very clumsy and is always getting herself into trouble accidentally. We see that she has good intentions, but things don’t always go the way she plans.

But, in addition to the more obvious personality differences between the two versions of Disney’s classic fairy, the one major change is the animation. In Disney’s Peter Pan, Tinkerbell was brought to life through traditional hand-drawn animation by Marc Davis. However, throughout the entire animating process for the film, the animators worked with live models for each individual character. The models served as references for tricky poses or actions that are hard to create from memory. They would act out the scene with specific directions just like a live-action film or play, and the animators would transfer the figures onto their paper. This is how the film achieved such life-like, expressive characters that were able to enthrall the audience, making it more exciting to watch. What’s even more interesting is that most of the models that were used for reference were also the voice actors for those same characters. Although for Tinkerbell’s model, Margaret Kerry, voice acting was unnecessary since she is a silent character. To compensate for the lack of dialogue, Kerry had to ensure that she pantomimed the role in the most expressive way possible so that her emotions were captured by the animators and translated into the film without being lost. For the Tinkerbell series, however, Tink is computer generated which adds a different dynamic to her character. She is much more detailed and colorized, which some might say is more visually captivating. In these movies, she also has a voice, played by Mae Whitman, who brings a whole new sweet and goofy, yet tenacious side, to Tink.

As a big fan of both old and new, I can’t hate on either version because they’re both so different and exist in different contexts; years of creation, technology available, story line, etc. I do have to reiterate, as you may have read in my previous post, Animatedly Yours: Animation Appreciation, that I am always going to have a special spot in my heart for hand-drawn animation. In terms of Tink’s personality change, though, I find the old version resonates with me more, but that may just be because she was the first Tinkerbell I’ve ever known.

Which version do you like better? Let me know in the comments below!

(Image from author’s personal collection.)

Alyssa Schulman is currently a student at Rhode Island School of Design. She was born in Florida but moved to Massachusetts at age 10. Alyssa’s heart has belonged to Walt Disney World for as long as she can remember, but something very high up on her bucket list is to visit all other Disney locations. She intends to pursue illustration in the hopes of being even half as inspirational, or at least entertaining, as Disney Animation continues to be to her.