There are visionaries that transform an art form: Michelangelo finding forms in blocks of marble, Jonathan Swift popularizing the novel, Frank Lloyd Wright pushing the limits of architecture. And there is Walt Disney, showing us the imaginative power of animation.
The American Experience: Walt Disney tells the story of this transformative artist, and reveals to us the process by which his visions were given form. It begins in his childhood of deprivation in Kansas City, carries us forward to his return from World War I and his determination not to repeat the successive failures of his father.
The story is revealed through archival footage and testimonials from the animators and artists who worked with him, as well as from historians and biographers extolling on his legacy. It’s a moving story of a man who came from nothing, but through sheer determination and ambition nearly created an entire art form. But we also see the dark side of that drive, the challenges he faced, and the hubris that threatened everything he had worked for.
It’s also an interesting look behind the scenes at Disney animation. A Disney fan will enjoy the tales of how the movies were made and the stories developed, the risks taken and legacy enshrined. It’s a portrait of a man who saw beyond the limits of what everyone else was doing, and who assembled a team to do what no one else had thought of.
Most of all it’s the story of a man and the family he created, and the family he nearly destroyed in his ambition. It tells the story of Disney Animation from its first inception making Oswald the Rabbit films in the early 20’s, to the multi-media conglomeration it has become today. It’s also a story about Hollywood in its golden era, and how one’s man vision could create an entire industry.
Anyone who loves Disney, or who loves stories of master artists, will enjoy this two-part documentary.
The American Experience: Walt Disney airs Monday Sept 14th, and Tuesday Sept 15th at 9:00 p.m. on KIXE Channel 9.