Walt Disney is well on his way to becoming the most written about creative talent in American film.
This is the 100th anniversary of his birth and thankfully any examination of his life can still include careful interviews with people who knew him and worked with him. The book is less an in-depth biography and more like spending a long afternoon hearing how it was from those who knew him best and who can praise him at the same time they acknowledge his frailties. It's an earnest and heartfelt look at the heart and soul of the man, and the authors do their level best to take a frank and thoughtful approach while still being entertaining. Like everything else Disney, it's best to give in to the fact that you're about to be put under a spell. The sooner you give in, the more fun you'll have.
Though some may find it less satisfying than a more critical analysis, this reader is tired of deconstructing American icons and welcomes this lovely look at a historical figure whose impact went well beyond his filmmaking. Disney is arguably the greatest influence on American popular culture and family entertainment in the past 100 years. Most admirable is the way the authors address some of the detractors who've criticized Walt Disney over the years for such things as anti-Semitism or racism. Albeit sentimental, the authors maintain fairly good objectivity. Walt Disney remains enigmatic even to those closest to him. Thankfully, the recollections by family and friends are edited into the layout without making the entire book seem like a posthumous testimonial dinner.
Granted this Disney Editions publication doesn't come without its ulterior motives. With the kind of control Disney has always had over any thing profiling the company one doubts that a harsh light will ever shine on their founder in one of their own pubications. But dreams and dreamers always look better in a soft light, and who but a bitter DreamWorker would ever want to bother trying to detract from such happy success? (And if ever proof was needed that certain ex-studio head turned competitor NEVER was and NEVER WILL be the next Walt Disney, this delivers it!) Though you wish the current Disney brass would pay more attention to the underlying principals of what makes Disney 'Disney' that are spelled out in this book. Hey, we can dream, too, can't we?
Still, this deliciously illustrated oversized scrapbook-styled remembrance of Walt more than makes up for its obvious propaganda focused origins. Imagine(eer) that!
Even though the book serves primarily as a companion to the documentary film of the same title, it's a wonderful read. A gentle reflection with rich illustrations -- some seldom and never before seen photographs -- and a rich and handsome design. Endlessly entertaining. A lovely tribute worth adding to your library.