Archive for the ‘Disney’ Category

Catmull Likes Pencil and Paper

February 9, 2007

image_disneypixar7.jpgThe Hollywood Reporter has an article today with the headline, “Disney getting back to hand-drawn animation.” Unfortunately, it offers no specifics about The Frog Princess or anything else. Just that Ed Catmull, speaking at Disney’s annual Investors Conference in Orlando yesterday, said he and Lasseter intend to bring traditional animation back, “provided a worthy story is being told.”

Other news from the conference: Disney intends to build a few mini theme parks around the country, and the made-for-TV movie, High School Musical made a $100 million profit.

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Frog Princess Buzz

December 15, 2006

Animation fans have been buzzing since July about The Frog Princess, a 2D feature film rumored to be in development at Walt Disney Feature Animation. A casting call went out in November, but Disney still won’t officially comment.

Disney’s Life Examined

December 12, 2006

In this week’s New Yorker, Anthony Lane reviews Neal Gabler’s new biography, Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination, which is now on my Christmas wish list.

Since I was raised in the Peoples’ Republic of Cambridge, I grew up thinking “Disney” stood for “phony” or “commercial.” Disney was vilified for dumbing down and sugar-coating such classics of children’s literature as Mary Poppins, Winnie The Pooh, and The Jungle Books.

When I had the privilege of working with a group of Walt Disney Feature Animation veterans on The Act, I learned enough about Disney’s accomplishments to totally change my point of view. I now think of Disney as the creative genius who revolutionized entertainment so many ways it is hard to count them.

Anthony Lane nails both sides of the Disney coin in his review.

I’ll add only one quibble as a footnote. Lane writes:

Everyone recalls being distressed by the death of Bambi’s mother, and of his stick-legged pining in the snow, but how many of us recall what happens next? The oblivious birds strike up an immediate chorus: “Let’s sing a gay little spring song, tra-la-la.” The episode is closed, like a trapdoor. And so it is with Walt Disney.

We may not consciously remember it that way, but it is precisely that chipper chorus of birds that stabs us in the heart and makes us scream, “Noooooo!” when watching the film. In a fast-forward moment we see Bambi, himself, having moved on, grown up, and recovered from the death of his mother. Without that juxtaposition, the scene would have been much less powerful.

Disney Returns to Shorts

December 3, 2006

There is an interesting article in today’s New York Times about Disney’s move (a few years ago) to resume development of short animated films. Disney has a long, illustrious history of making shorts, and the company has tried unsuccessfully to revive the old format before. Now, under John Lasseter’s leadership, there is no requirement or expectation that short films be profitable. The express purposes of the projects are to experiment with new techniques and to develop the next generation of talent.

Buried near the end of the article is the momentous news that one of the new shorts will be the first animated film in Disney’s history to be directed by a woman (Stevie Wermers).