Monday, March 29, 2010

Best Maybe I Should Have Seen How to Train Your Dragon?

I saw this movie, Waking Sleeping Beauty. It's a documentary about Disney animation between 1984 and 1994, a period during which it went from an unprofitable "burden" on the company that was nearly eliminated to producing a string of super-successful films (Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and the Lion King) and changing the face of modern animation . . . forever!

There are two closely-related stories to tell from that time period, the story of the creative decisions and the story of the business decisions at Disney that time. Unfortunately, I can't say I felt the movie addressed either adequately. The movie was always on the verge of showing or telling something interesting, then jumping on to something else. It sort of was always saying "Believe me, things were crazy! You should have been there!" and leaving me to take it at its word.

Part of the reason for this was the whole movie was made from archival footage with the audio of modern interviews played along with it...there was no talking head footage typical of documentaries. An interesting idea and noble effort for the filmmakers, but I think the sticking to what was already on tape constrained the course of the film. And certain Disney execs (Jeffrey Katzenberg) were portrayed as being so despised by Disney Animation (and everyone else) that I began to like them whereas others (Michael Eisner) were portrayed so generally positively while I know that everyone wound up eventually hating that dude so much.

So, all in all, the movie left me feeling kind of "ehh" about a topic I was prepared to become more interested in. Sitting here, thinking about it, I don't even know if the legacy of those movies is something to be too psyched about . . . Pocahontas, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Brother Bear, Atlantis, Treasure Planet? The demise of hand drawn animation and total dependence of Disney on Pixar for animated features? Was a period of great success at Disney just a swell to a wave destined to return to the ho-hum situation that preceded it?

And also, although the relation of the title of the movie to the content of the movie is explained early on, it just seems weird for a movie called Waking Sleeping Beauty to not have anything to do with Sleeping Beauty.

1 comment:

Gwendolyn said...

You know what IS a great documentary though? The Art of the Steal. Our theater people were shaking their heads in disgust (at those lousy thieves!) the entire time.

Also just requested Pnin, looking forward to it, thanks :)