Many of us had September 14th and 15th from 8 until 10 marked off for months, myself included. After all, it's not every day we get a whole documentary on Walt Disney, especially one like that which appeared on PBS' American Experience. The documentary was made with the agreement that the company would have no say in the content that was included, and while they may have been nervous, I certainly think that this documentary on Walt Disney was one of the best I've ever seen. A few comments on the program overall:
Walt and Roy: I've always had such a respect for the relationship between Walt and his brother Roy. They worked like a team, and it's one I know well. I tend to be a lot like Walt, with grand ideas that I'm set on no matter the cost, and my partner in crime somehow always manages to make it happen. I don't think I know what I'll do without her when I head to California, but American Experience really gave new insight into the relationship between the brothers that you don't always see explored.
"Disney Provides the Passage:" As I write this I'm going through my live tweets from watching the program, and this one stood out: the idea that Disney Provides the Passage, and that's why Disney is so successful. If you think about it, they really do. Magic Kingdom is perhaps the greatest example of this, as in order to get to the park you have to use some form of Disney transportation. It makes for a subtle experience that can make all the difference. When you're at Disney, you're in a world all it's own, and when you're watching a Disney movie, you can be right there with the characters. It's a crucial element that many other film companies still miss, even today.
Animated Pictures: Walt, as I learned in this documentary, was very concerned with how the world viewed animated pictures. They weren't making Cartoons at the Disney stoods, said Walt once, they were making art. I often wonder about the difference between Disney Animated films and animated features from other companies, and it's so true. Disney isn't there to make the next big cartoon character. They're making art, plain and simple. Additionally, there still hasn't been an animated picture that won best picture at the Oscars. That needs to change. Personally, I believe the film industry still sees animated pictures as not worthy, and it's one of those things I can just imagine Walt being upset about.
Disneyland: The Disney Parks segment of the documentary was everything I could have hoped it to be and then more. From sharing behind the scenes footage of the construction to opening day and into Walt Disney World, there was a lot of inspiration in just a short time. In particular, there was a video of Walt driving a jeep through a dirt covered Disneyland that was just priceless. A lot of us tweeted about it, and I think that one clip, while only a few seconds long, really showed Walt's spirit. He was so young at heart, and he taught all of us to be the same way.
Belief: Marty Sklar said in one of his interview moments that "He never tried to sell something he didn't personally believe in." That's an extremely important point, because being a salesperson for something you don't really care about is one thing, but when you really, truly believe something and are passionate about it, magic happens. I learned that from Walt, and it's that same idea that encourages me to follow my dreams every single day. I'm not going to sell out for something I don't believe in.
Untouched: This documentary made me cry, honestly, like I haven't cried in a long time. It was said near the end that "He affects all of us. No one is untouched by Walt Disney." As I sit here working on the 988th blog post of a website called Everyday Disney, I can't describe to you how true this is. My life wouldn't exist without Disney. Most of our lives wouldn't, and thinking of a world without Disney is a terrible thought indeed. He did so, so much good, and changed all of us for the better. He taught us how to love, dream, work hard, and believe in magic. We've all been touched by the life of this amazing man, and I'm so thankful that we were able to see some of it through the eyes of American Experience.
I'd like to take a moment to thank everyone who worked on the documentary. It was absolutely brilliant and I couldn't ask for a better four hours of my life. My roommates may have thought I was a little crazy running halfway across campus in order to make it back in time for the second portion, but I made it, and I'm so glad I did.
Did you watch the Walt Disney speical on American Experience?
Have a magical day!