Sometimes, for fun, I try to rewrite synopsis' of old stories into traditional Disney films, making sure they fulfill all the standard Disney criteria: sidekick, bad guy, love interest, making HUGE changes to the original story, etc. After hearing about Disney's upcoming Mort film, I got a little interested and started looking up info on the series.
What I've got: An extensive knowledge of Disney animated musicals.
What I lack: Anything other than a cursory knowledge of Discworld.
Discworld fans, please let me know exactly HOW big a travesty this is.
Now let's get this train wreck a-rollin'!
Opening scene: Midnight in the Sto Helit household, a small farm house in the country of Ankh-Morpork. The house is almost entirely silent...aside from a snoring Lezek Sto Helit. A shadow passes over Lezek, who shivers. The shadow slithers throughout the house before finally arriving at the bed of our hero, young Mortimer Sto Helit. A bony hand reaches towards him as dramatic music grows to a climax...then stops. The hand cups the sleeping Mort's chin, squeezing his cheeks. Another skeletal hand grasps Mortimer's arm, examining it. Hm.
The skeletal hands continue examining the sleeping teenager, slapping his chest, checking his hair for nits, pulling his eyelids open, checking his pulse... the youth never wakes up. Hm Hm Hm.
The skeletal hands withdraw, reaching deep within a shadowy cloak to reveal a notepad and quill. The shadowy figure jots a few notes down, holds the quill to his mouth a moment... then finally mutters, He'll do.
the shadowy figure leaves, pausing only a moment to hold his hand to the floor...allowing a small, cloaked rat to crawl up his arm and onto his shoulder. Squeak
Mortimer Sto Helit has just turned 18, and, as such, is leaving his father's farm to go to the city to learn a trade. He's eager to do something important, something that the kingdom can't function without. If we're doing a "Happy Village" song, this is where it'd go. Alternatively, Mort's "I Want" song. After examining various unimpressive trades, Mortimer is about to give up... when a mysterious figure cloaked in black approaches him. He tells Mort that his job is the most important in the world, that the very fabric of reality depends upon him. Mortimer, intrigued, quips a nonchalant remark of enthusiasm, along the lines of "Sign me up!"
In a flash, Mort is engulfed in an inky black shadow, which quickly shapes itself into a black cloak and scythe. He glances at his hand to reveal pure white bone. For the first time, he looks into the face of the mysterious stranger...to see a skull with cold, icy blue glowing eyes.
Orientation begins immediately.
Mortimer finds he has become apprenticed to Death, and is taken to his domain. Mortimer, still reeling from it all, is introduced to the members of Death's household: Binky, Death's steed, Alberto Malich, Death's servant, and Ysabell, Death's adopted daughter. Alberto was once a powerful wizard in the royal court, when an accident 18 years ago left him at Death's door (figuratively). In desperation, Alberto tried a powerful dark spell in reverse... which brought him to Death's door (literally). Moments after arriving, Death returned with a young Ysabell, whom he had adopted after her parents suffered a fatal accident. Alberto and Ysabell have lived there ever since,aging, but unable to die. As a result, Ysabell has grown into a bitter, cynical young woman who resents her adopted father, while Alberto has become an old wretch. Also among the household is the Death of Rats, who has become a pet of sorts. Squeak.
Death explains the situation: after spending centuries observing the human world, Death has become increasingly curious and curious: he harbors a desire to spend time among the living, and learn their ways. But, of course, if he were to join the living, someone would be needed to tend to the dead: which is where Mort comes in. By agreeing to become Death's apprentice, Mort has agreed to become the reaper of souls while Death learns more about humanity.
Meanwhile, in the capital city... Rincewind, the sole remaining member of court who holds out hope for the return of the Royal Family, is beginning to run out of ways to limit the power-grabbing of the corpulent Patrician Teatime. He briefly considers direct confrontation, then immediately rejects the notion, burns it, buries it, and decides never to think of it again.
With the particulars explained to him, Mort begins the heavy task of collecting souls. His first job is a small, cowardly little wizard who's run afoul of Teatime's City Watch... someone named Rincewind. Mort confronts Rincewind, who promptly begins to beg and plead for his life in the most comical manner possible.
Well, this idea is turning out to be a lot more in-depth than I intended, so I'll wrap it up: Rincewind becomes Mort's comedic sidekick, Mort ends up messing things up by being unwilling to collect souls, filling Death's domain with hundreds of frustrated spirits.
Death strikes up a friendship with the elderly Ms. Flitworth, and through her, learns more about humanity.
Teatime is Alberto's stooge, and Alberto caused the death of Ysabell's parents in a coup attempt. With Death currently out of the picture and Mort distracted, Alberto is able to engineer Teatime's 'death', bringing him to Death's domain as Mort is STILL refusing to harvest souls. Teatime brings Alberto's spellbook with him, allowing Alberto to cast the spell he tried to cast years ago.
Ysabell confronts Mort about the havoc his inactivity is wrecking in the living world and, in the process, begins to understand what her "father" goes through in his line of work. Rincewind finally recognizes Ysabell as the vanished Princess from years earlier (because every Disney musical needs a princess, c'mon), and presents her with her crown. Mort, realizing Ysabell is right, readies himself to do what needs to be done with all the souls stuck in the interim.
Alberto successfully casts the spell, and the power of death is taken away from Mort and given to Alberto, who becomes New Death, getting a totally kick-ass villain song in the process. Alberto drains Mort's hourglass, ensuring he can't leave Death's realm without dying, before destroying the majority of Death's domain for good measure, picking up Ysabell's crown from the rubble. Realizing there's only one other person who can possibly stand in his way, Alberto goes to the living world to kill Death.
It looks like it's over... until Mort, Rincewind, and Ysabell emerge from the wreckage. Rincewind reveals he saved Ysabell's hourglass and, in a rare fit of selflessness, gives Mort the sand from his glass so he can go to stop New Death/Alberto.
New Death careens towards Death's home on the Disc, ravaging all life in his path. Mort and Ysabell on Binky barely manage to arrive in time to warn Death. Alberto bursts through the door, prompting the exchange from Reaper Man ( "a CROWN?! I NEVER wore a crown!" "You never wanted to rule."
An epic battle ensues, with Ms. Flitworth caught in the crossfire. Angered, Death and Mort strike Alberto down, his body burning up into dust. Death, realizing his role in the universe, takes his powers back from Mort and reaps Ms. Flitworth, who ascends to the next plan of existence in a brilliant show of heavenly light. Ysabell and Death reconcile, with Death revealing a large part of wanting to be human was so he could understand Ysabell's needs better. (And cats. Cats are nice.
) Now, he does... and realizes he needs to let her live life. Ysabell, struck speechless, hugs Death for the first time. She goes to Mort, they embrace, then take a moment to mourn Rincewind. Death thinks a moment, then uses the sand from his world of the living body to refill Rincewind's hourglass, allowing him to rejoin his friends, but ensuring Death can never join the land of the living as he had again. ("Given how that worked out...that might be for the best," Rincewind remarks, nodding his head in Mort's direction.) Mort and Ysabell bid Death a bittersweet farewell, then the ending montage starts: Teatime is stranded among the other restless spirits, Rincewind taunts the now-imprisoned City Watch, Ysabell and Mort are married and crowned, and Ankh-Morpork enters a new golden age.
A few years later... Ankh-Morpork castle. Mort and Ysabell are fast asleep. A shadowy figure slithers over their bedside, halting a moment, hovering before moving on. The shadowy figure enters a nursery, and looms over the bed of a little baby girl. A skeletal hand reaches into the cradle...then withdraws. The shadowy figure leaves the room, taking a moment to turn back and flash a skeletal grin. We pan down to the sleeping child, who is now holding a bright, angelic-themed rattle, with a tag reading "To Susan. Happy Birthday. Love, Grandpa."
Credits gag: Death returns home...to see the hundreds of spirits Mort couldn't bring himself to reap. This... is most irregular.
The spirits murmur agreement. Death sighs, and seats himself at a table. Please form an orderly, single-file line.
Teatime elbows his way to the front of the line.
Disney film requirements:
- Sidekicks? Rincewild and Death of Rats. Check.
- Villain? Alberto/New Death. Check.
- Ineffectual comedic sidevillain? Teatime. Check.
- Love Story? Ysabell/Mort. Check.
- Princess? Ysabell. Check.
- Mythology Gag? Toss Gaston and Facilier in among the restless spirits, have one of the characters in Mort's "I can't reap this" montage be Bambi's mom.
- Songs? Really, the only spot I imagined a song working would be when Alberto turns into New Death. That means we still need an "I Want" song, a Love Song, a "Happy Village" song, a sidekick song, and an ending song. Hm.
- Drastic changes to the original story? Oh lord yes.
So.... anything I'm leaving out, Disney-movie-wise? Thoughts? Was it as bad as I bet it is?