You don’t have to have known me very long to know that I love Disney. I was born and raised on the box-office busting animated films of the late 80s and early 90s and have been to Disney World more times than you have fingers. We can say all we want about corporate greed and the waist size of princesses and consumerism and so on, but there’s one fact that remains true.
I believe in the power of imagination and dreams. Because of that, I will always have a place in my being for Disney.
That being said, there is a company behind that name and there are people that make that company successful. Those people have stories and over the past year or so, I’ve gotten to see some absolutely wonderful documentaries showcasing those untold stories of the people who made such a lasting impression on my childhood and life.
If you’re into Disney and/or documentaries, I encourage you to check these three out:
You know their songs. It’s a Small World from Disneyland/Disney World. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious from Mary Poppins. Heffalumps and Woozles from Winnie the Pooh. Let’s Get Together from The Parent Trap.
But did you know that the dynamic songwriting duo of brothers Richard and Robert Sherman couldn’t stand each other? This documentary is a fascinating look at how two siblings who wrote about happiness and left the world with hundreds of cheerful tunes couldn’t stand one another, and the toll that decades of working together took on their relationship.
There are few companies that I have as much respect and admiration for as Pixar. And there are few people that I have as much respect and admiration for as John Lasseter. Knowing these two things, it’s no surprise that I love this documentary and have seen it several times (last I checked, it’s still streaming on Netflix). The film takes you from Lasseter’s early days in the Cal Arts animation program to working at the Disney Animation Studios to getting fired from Disney to going to work at other studios before coming to Pixar where he changed the industry forever with computer animated films we all know and love. Despite being an amazing innovator, though, Pixar teaches the lesson that it doesn’t matter what technology you use, what really makes a great film is a great story.
Like I said earlier in this post, I was raised on Disney films like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King. Most people my age were. However, behind the giant successes that Disney was achieving in the late 80s and early 90s, there was an aura of frustration and competitiveness among the studio’s top execs that hung like a dark cloud over Disney Animation. This film looks at how, from the outside, things could have never looked better. But from the inside, animosity was running high and, ultimately, would lead to a diminishing of the magic to an extent.