Monday, November 29, 2010
While I still have a fondness for this era of Disney that was led by Walt Disney's son in law Ron Miller, with THE RESCUERS and PETE'S DRAGON being favorite films when I grew up, for the most part, it isn't considered to be a highlight in the studio's history.
By the early 80's, the studio was in trouble. Animator Don Bluth had left the studio (and would go on to make THE SECRET OF NIMH) taking many of the animators with him.
Then, in 1984, after a corporate battle, Roy Disney brought in Michael Eisner and Frank Wells to run the studio. Also coming onboard was Jeffrey Katzenberg.
WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY follows this entire era. Directed and narrated by Don Hahn, an animator on the lot from the pre-Eisner era, who would go on to produce BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, the film chronicles the success and failures, egos and battles that went into creating the modern era of Disney animation.
This is not a "talking head" documentary. All the key people were interviewed, including Michael Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Roy Disney. All of their views are heard as voiceovers played over archive footage from the era. It seems the animators were having a lot of fun with home movies and video throughout the decade (look for a young Tim Burton at an animation table in footage from 1980).
This is a surprisingly honest look at the studio. Ending in 1994, with the passing of Frank Wells, and Katzeneberg leaving the company, this is yet another excellent documentary on Disney.
The DVD contains over thirty minutes of deleted and additional footage about the film and different aspects of the story. There are also three wonderful tours of the studio, shot by animators, in 1980, 1983, and in 1990.
WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY should be a must see for all Disney fans.
WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY is available on Walt Disney Home Video.