Saturday, April 10, 2010

Waking Sleeping Beauty- She said

As a child of the early 90s, my memories are full of Disney. I remember seeing the animated cartoons on the big screen, which were some of the first movies I saw in theaters, and being absolutely captivated by their stories. After all the movies, I always wanted the soundtrack, backpack and coloring books right away! I never wanted to leave those fairytale worlds. To many of us, Disney has always been an animation giant. However, as the documentary Waking Sleeping Beauty shows, the road toward their golden era of animation was long, arduous and bumpy.

In the late 70s, there was this dividing line within the animators at Disney. You had the classic animators who were about to retire, then there were fresh faced kids full of bright ideas. Even though they had the talent, Disney was not thought of for their animation. The released an animated movie about every four years. This led to many, many fails at the box office culminating with the flop of The Black Cauldron. Throughout this time, there was constant power struggle of egos from the head honchos: Roy Disney, Jeff Kratzenberg, Mike Eisner, and Frank Wells. Through disagreements, power shifts, failed experiments and outside forces an unbelievable chain of events happened which led us to some of the greatest and most successful animated movies ever made.

This documentary by Don Hahn is phenomenal. The archive footage and videos used give an insight to the lives and minds from the animators all the way up to Roy Disney. Also, there are A LOT of people involved during this era, and Hahn does an amazing job of keeping the names of who we’re seeing or who’s talking on the screen, which makes this movie very user friendly. It also shows some very hilarious archival caricatures of certain meetings and bosses that add to the playfulness of the animators.

I was scared that this documentary might tarnish notions I had about the Disney studios, but it just reinforced the fact that Disney at the end of the day is still just another business. Not everyone is going to agree or get along, but they still have to produce a product.

This is my favorite movie I’ve seen at the Dallas International Film Festival thus far. Now, I am a little biased because I do love Disney, but it was fascinating to see a back story from a company that had such a profound impact on my generation. If you’ve ever had any interest in Disney, go see this film. (Also, they mention this little start-up company towards the end…called Pixar. Maybe a Pixar documentary could be in the works about changing the face of animation?)

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