Friday, March 16, 2012

It’s Film Strip Friday!


Release Date June 27th, 1997


          He's the son of Zeus and a born hero -- but Hercules, raised by mortals, doesn't know it yet. He just thinks he's an over-muscular klutz who can't fit in. It takes some help from a "personal trainer" named Phil, his flying horse Pegasus, and a lot of bumps along the way for him to move from zero to hero. He'll have to find his inner strength in order to face evil Hades, the god of the Underworld, to rescue his true love Megara.


Hercules is a 1997 American animated musical 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 Zeus imprisoned the Titans beneath the ocean, he and his wife Hera have a son, Hercules, who has superhuman strength. While the other Greek gods are joyful, Zeus' jealous brother Hades plots to overthrow Zeus and rule Mount Olympus. Turning to the Fates for help, the three predict 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 kidnap Hercules. The two succeed and use a special formula to turn him mortal but fail to remove his strength. Hercules is found and adopted by Amphitryon and Alcmene.

Eighteen years later, Hercules is an outcast due to his strength and wonders where he came from. His foster parents reveal the necklace they found him with, Hercules deciding to visit the temple of Zeus for answers. The temple's statue of Zeus comes to life and reveals all to Hercules, telling him to become a true hero to regain his godhood. Zeus sends Hercules and his forgotten friend Pegasus to find the satyr Philoctetes, or "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 so the gods will create a picture of him from the stars. Phil trains Hercules into a potential hero and they fly for Thebes. On the way, they meet Meg, a sarcastic damsel who 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 finds himself unwanted by the downtrodden citizens until Meg appears claiming two boys are trapped in a gorge. Hercules saves them, unaware they are Pain and Panic in disguise, allowing Hades to summon the Hydra to fight Hercules. Hercules continues to cut off its heads, but more replace them, until Hercules is forced to kill 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 makes a deal with Hercules, to give up his powers for twenty-four hours and Meg will be unharmed. Hercules agrees, losing his strength, and is shocked when Hades reveals that Meg is working for him.

Hades unleashes the Titans who climb Olympus and capture the gods, whilst 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, allowing Hercules to get his strength back. As Phil takes care of Meg, Hercules and Pegasus fly to Olympus where they free the gods and launch the Titans into space where they explode. Hades flies back to the Underworld, Hercules learning Meg has died and her soul is now Hades' property. Breaking into the Underworld, Hercules negotiates with Hades to free Meg in exchange for his own life and dives into the Styx to save Meg. As the Fates prepare to cut his thread of life, Hercules gets his godhood back, rescuing Meg and he punches Hades into the Styx. Reviving Meg, Hercules and his friends are summoned to Olympus where Zeus and Hera welcome their son home. However, Hercules decides to remain on Earth with Meg with his parents' blessing. Returning to Thebes, Hercules reunites with his foster parents as Zeus creates a picture of Hercules in the stars, completing Phil's dream.


  • Tate Donovan as Hercules. 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.
  • Josh Keaton as Young Hercules, singing voice provided by Roger Bart
  • Danny DeVito as Philoctetes/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.
  • Susan Egan as Megara
  • Rip Torn as Zeus
  • Frank Welker as Pegasus
  • Samantha Eggar as Hera
  • Bobcat Goldthwait as Pain
  • Matt Frewer as Panic
  • Jim Cummings as Nessus
  • Wayne Knight as Demetrius
  • Hall Holbrook as Amphitryon
  • Barbary Barrie as Alcemne
  • Paul Shaffer as Hermes
  • Amanda Plummer as Clotho
  • Carole Shelley as Lachesis
  • Paddi Edwards as Atropos
  • Keith David as Apollo
  • Lillias White as Calliope
  • Vanéese Y. Thomas as Clio
  • Cheryl Freeman as Melpomene
  • LaChanze as Terpsichore
  • Roz Ryan as Thalia
  • Charlton Heston as The Narrator


Production for the film took place from late 1994 to early 1997.

Design and animation

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 the protagonist instead - "I knew if would be more difficult and more challenging, but I just needed that experience to have that in your repertoire." With regard to 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.") 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". Eric Goldberg, the supervising animator for Philoctetes, cited Grumpy in Snow White and Bacchus in Fantasia as the inspirations for the character's design.

The actors' performances also influenced the way the characters were animated. Deja integrated Donovan's "charming yet innocent quality" into Hercules' expressions. 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. Ranieri watched James Woods' other films and used what he saw as the basis for Hades' sneer.


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, with vocals performed by Lillias White, LaChanze, Roz Ryan, Roger Bart, Danny DeVito, and Susan Egan among others, along with the successful single version of "Go the Distance" by Michael Boltom. 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 Celiene Dion’s monumental 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".

Track list:

  1. "Long Ago..." – Charlton Heston
  2. The Gospel Truth/Main Title – Lillias White, LaChanze, Roz Ryan, Cheryl Freeman, and Vanéese Y. Thomas
  3. The Gospel Truth II - Roz Ryan
  4. The Gospel Truth III - Lillias White, LaChanze, Roz Ryan, Cheryl Freeman, and Vanéese Y. Thomas
  5. "Go the Distance" – Roger Bart
  6. Oh Mighty Zeus (Score)
  7. " Go the Distance (Reprise)" - Roger Bart
  8. "One Last Hope" – Danny DeVito
  9. "Zero to Hero" – Tawatha Agee, Lillias White, LaChanze, Roz Ryan, Cheryl Freeman, and Vanéese Y. Thomas
  10. "I won’t Say (I’m in Love)" – Susan Egan, Lillias White, LaChanze, Roz Ryan, Cheryl Freeman, and Vanéese Y. Thomas
  11. "A Star Is Born" - Lillias White, LaChanze, Roz Ryan, Cheryl Freeman, and Vanéese Y. Thomas
  12. " Go the Distance (Single)" – Michael Bolton
  13. The Big Olive (Score)
  14. The Prophecy (Score)
  15. Destruction of the Agora (Score)
  16. Phil's Island (Score)
  17. Rodeo (Score)
  18. Speak of the Devil (Score)
  19. The Hydra Battle (Score)
  20. Meg's Garden (Score)
  21. Hercules' Villa (Score)
  22. All Time Chump (Score)
  23. Cutting the Thread (Score)
  24. A True Hero/A Star Is Born (End Title) - Lillias White, LaChanze, Roz Ryan, Cheryl Freeman, and Vanéese Y. Thomas



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.

Home media

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.

Video game

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


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.

Critical reception

As of 2008, Rotten Tomatoes reported that 83% of critics gave positive reviews based on 48 reviews.

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 Aliddin".

Awards and nominations

  • Academy Awards

·        Academy Award for Best Original Song - "Go the Distance" (Nominated)

  • Golden Globes

·        Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song - "Go the Distance" (Nominated)

  • Saturn Award

·        Best Fantasy Film (Nominated)

  • Blockbuster Entertainment Awards

·        Favorite Animated Family Movie (Nominated)

·        Favorite Song from a Movie - "Go the Distance" (Nominated)

  • Youn g Artist Award

·        Best Performance in a Voice Over Role - Young Actor Josh Keaton for Young hercules's voice (Nominated)

  • Annie Awards

Winner/Nominee Recipient(s)
Animated Theatrical Feature
Individual Achievement in Producing
Alice Dewey (Producer)
John Musker (Producer)
Rohn Clements (Producer)
Individual Achievement in Directing
John Musker (Director)
Ron Clements (Director)
Individual Achievement in Character Animation
Ken Duncan (Supervising Animator - Meg)
Individual Achievement in Character Animation
Nik Ranieri (Supervising Animator - Hades)
Individual Achievement in Effects Animation
Mauro Maressa (Effects Supervisor)


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