Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Walt Disney " Secret Lives " Documentary

If there is one thing i really believe in when i do something - in this case, my blog - it is that my readers are enough intelligent to accept the truth even if it must break a bit an icon image.

The Youtube videos below are a Channel Four 1995 documentary, and it talks about the "dark side" of Walt Disney. It includes interviews with artists Bill Melendez, David Hilberman, Mary Eastman, Bill Hurtz, Marie Beardsley, and Bill Littlejohn, screenwriter Joan Scott, and biographers Marc Eliot, Richard Schickel, and Bob Thomas.

Although some of the facts told in this document are not new - and also that i don't know how objective the editing is, it worth the look, specially because of rare footage of that old era - the Studios at Burbank, the famous strike that changed everything, the 1950's Mac Carthy anti-american commitee, etc... Before beginning to think that some of these facts are infamous, it is important to put back these events in the era context. It don't change the fact that Walt really should not have done some of these things, but it explains it.

Now, don't get me wrong: Walt's mistakes don't change the fact that he had a unique vision, but what you'll see today will mainly prove one thing: Walt Disney was a human being. And like most of humans he had his moments of solar vision, and others of darkness. But, once again, there is a lot of interesting footage inside this six-part video below, so, have a look!

Video: copyright Channel Four and Disney


Brother Bill said...

There is a glaring omission in the coverage of the animator's strike which makes me question the integrity of the rest of the documentary. Why was there no mention of Herb Sorrell (until well after the fact, during Walt's Congressional testimony), the strike organizer who was not a Disney employee, had no connection to the Disney studio, threatened to turn the Disney studio into a "dustbowl" and would not allow unionization to be put to a vote, as Walt wanted?

As for the rest, is it really a newsflash that the real Walt Disney was a strict task master and not the laid back persona he portrayed for on TV? Is it really so astonishing that there was sexism in the workplace in the 1940s and 50s?

Anyone who is shocked by any of the material in this documentary is, I'm afraid, terribly naive.

Thufer said...

while i will not make excuses, i shall neither judge. i do not know how i would have felt being an "employee"; i do know how i feel as a fan. i shall not appologize for that either. like us all, walt was a product of his total experience up to any decision in time he ever made. i would say he got more right than he did wrong. it has become almost the norm to display the darker side of walt. thats too bad. as we move away from the reality of the man and his times; i just hope the light he gave the world is not forgotten.
on a positive side for me, i had not seen some of that footage. thank you for sharing this.

Michael said...

Not to mention that many people have had not so nice things to say about Richard Schickel's book, upon which much of this filming seems to be based (he shows up early in the first act).

Here are Chuck Jones' thoughts on his writing as interviewed by Michael Barrier:

Likewise Mr. Barrier has proven at least one other fact that originated with Schickel to be wrong:

No doubt that Walt was a man, and all men have flaws, some deeper than others. Like Thufer said, and Chuck Jones mentioned in the link above, to characterize Walt as this or that, or good or bad is just plain wrong. It's bad journalism and bad writing at its best (which means at it's worst really).

Jason Rasmussen said...

I find your blog fascinating and entertaining. Thank you for posting this. Disney was human, but he truly had a great vision and knew how to orchestrate the right people to create the vision he had.

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