Red Shoes, Stone Circle Pictures

John Lasseter, Brad Bird, John Musker, Ron Clements, Glen Keane, Tim Burton, Don Bluth, Roy Disney, Michael Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg

Walt Disney Studios veteran Don Hahn directs and produces this documentary that looks at Disney animation work during the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s — from the team’s humble beginnings at CalArts to the box office triumph of The Lion King. In exploring the works of that era, the film illuminates the careers of top animators of the time, including John Lasseter, Brad Bird, John Musker, Ron Clements Don Bluth and many others. It was a bad time for the animation department. This documentary covers the time when Roy and Walt were gone and the studio was floundering. Disney was ripe for takeover and the team of Michael Eisner and Frank Wells was brought in to prevent takeover. But Eisner was a live action guy and no one knew what to do with the animation department. They were the core of the company, and now they were ripped out of their home, the animation building and moved off the lot altogether to give the building to the television production companies to use. Things were hitting rock bottom and when Black Cauldron bombed, it looked like Disney was getting out of the cartoon business forever. Then a perfect storm of people and situations hit Burbank and completely changed the art of animation forever. Suddenly hit after hit after hit along with huge technical advances (Pixar) suddenly put the animation department back on track.

This is the story of how it happened and is a great documentary on the part of the history of the company after Walt that is seldom talked about. Don Bluth suddenly left the studio and took a bunch of animators with him and formed his own company which put out some great films like “An American Tale” and “The Land Before Time“. This really hurt. But the exact right circumstances and the music of Alan Menken & Howard Ashman and suddenly Disney was back on top. There are lots of classic film clips of the animators at work. You get to see Tim Burton at work back in the 80’s, barely a kid, and lots of the other classic animators. Jeffrey Katzenberg, who was chosen to head the animation department comes off pretty bad in the film. I am not sure if that is the true story, as I always picked up a vibe that Jeffrey was given a bad deal in the end, naturally the one in line to be Eisner’s second after Frank Wells died, he was passed over and left to start Dreamworks. But maybe these guys know more about it than the average Disney employee and this is what really happened. I just know it is kind of sad either way. The documentary also covers a lot of the problems and dumb luck that got them to the pinnacle of animation. This is a very good documentary and anyone who loves Disney or animated fare should see it just to know the history of how it happened. It was certainly a lot of talented people and a few good decisions, tons of very hard work, and lots of luck that made it happen.

EdG – EdsReview Dot Com – A Movie Review Blog



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