Tomorrowland: how Walt Disney’s strange utopia shaped the world of tomorrow - cryogenically frozen head not included.
Since at least the late 1950s, Walt Disney Studios had a morgue on site (auto-playing music, with option to pause), but rather than a place to temporarily keep dead bodies, the name is a reference to "morgue files" kept by newspaper reporters, where old materials were kept for reference. In 1989, the archives moved to larger, more modern facilities, renamed the Animation Research Library (ARL), a 12,000 square foot housed in a nondescript structure, which guests are required to not describe or identify by location or even neighborhood, as noted in this Telegraph article, The Jungle Book: the making of Disney's most troubled film. Given the limited access and strict controls over what can be recorded in ARL, Ultimate Disney's 2006 tour write-ups with photos and D23's Armchair Archivist interview with select Disney staff may be the closest you can get to getting inside. [more inside]
In the mid-1940s, surrealist artist Salvador Dali began collaborating with Walt Disney on a short film. The idea was fully storyboarded and an 18 second test animation was completed by Disney animator John Hench. Soon after, the idea was shelved due to a changing of focus with Disney Feature Animation. Almost 60 years later, Walt's nephew Roy E. Disney (with consultation from the now 95-year old Hench) spearheaded an effort to finish the film. In 2003, the finished product, "Destino", premiered. [more inside]
Is Saving Mr. Banks, Disney's retelling of the events surrounding the adaptation of Mary Poppins a corporate, borderline-sexist spoonful of lies which throws author P. L. Travers under the bus?
"The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet." Before we get into terraforming, what about the space between worlds? NASA has a website dedicated to discussions of space settlements (previously), many going back to the 1970s, as seen in the CoEvolution Book on space settlement and the NASA Ames/Stanford 1975 Summer Study. There is also concept art from the 1970s by Don Davis (prev: 1, 2, 3) and Rick Guidice. Escaping from that orbit, there's also a toroidal space colony as imagined in the 1982 book Walt Disney's EPCOT, and more recently, a ton of neat imagery on Bryan Versteeg's Spacehabs website. [more inside]
Thousands of movie posters from the Mouse, from Alice's Day at Sea (March 1, 1924) to Wreck-It-Ralph (November 2, 2012). Includes US and foreign posters, historical and modern versions (the changes in poster design are particularly interesting), trailers and advertising material. The site (in French) covers movies produced under the Disney umbrella (including Touchstone, Hollywood Pictures and Pixar but not Miramax): shorts and feature films, animated and live action movies, classic and less classic works.
"Disney goes to Anaheim late at night to help repair the animatronic Disneyland Lincoln, which has been malfunctioning and attacking members of the audience. Disney gets in an argument with the robot about blacks, and Lincoln goes crazy again and whacks Walt...." (source). Starting today at 2 PM Eastern time (just under 3 hours from now) and for the next 90 days, medici.tv will stream, free of charge, Teatro Real's January 22 premiere performance of the new Philip Glass opera The Perfect American. It's based on the novel of the same name by Peter Stephan Jungk, which the NY Times called "a surreal, meditative, episodic account of the last days of Walt Disney." Four minute preview video. ENO rehearsal trailer. (Happy belated 76th, Mr. Glass.) [more inside]
"Over the years in animation, there have been a lot of great animators. Ub Iwerks was one of those people. We know his work, but we don't necessarily know the man." The Hand Behind the Mouse: The Ub Iwerks Story (in 5 parts on DailyMotion: 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5) tells of the life of Ubbe Eert Iwerks, from the formation of the friendship with Walt Disney when they met at advertisement studio in Kansas City, their artistic collaborations and Ub's 20 years of animation, to Iwerk's technical creations that kept Disney animated pictures ahead of other studios. [more inside]
D. on Ice, in honor of the 110th birthday of Walt Disney, kinda.
Walt Disney Co. has filed an application to trademark the name "Seal Team 6", the Navy Seal team that killed OBL in Pakistan earlier in May. [more inside]
Oh hai here's a flow chart showing the creative/organizational process of a (Walt) Disney film. Stay away from the morgue.
Mickey Mouse's early road to fame (yt playlist with ~160 videos) has some odd twists and turns. One of Walt Disney's early cartoon creations was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, the star of Trolley Troubles (5:45, 1927) and other early shorts. Disney had big plans for the popular little rabbit, and wanted to increase his budget from Universal Pictures. Unfortunately, Charles B. Mintz wanted to scale back the budget, and in the end Universal kept control of Oswald Rabbit. Without Oswald, Disney needed something new. Jack Dunham, one of Disney's Nine Old Men recalled animating Oswald and "the one without the ears." Initially, this one was called Mortimer, but Lillian Disney, Walt Disney's wife, believed the name "Mortimer" sounded too pompous and suggested the name Mickey, though Mickey Rooney claims he was the inspiration. Either way, the mouse was renamed Mickey in short order, and he starred in Plane Crazy (video, 6:00, 1928, previously). By 1929, he was wearing his iconic gloves (and talking), in The Karnival Kid (video, 7:41). But Mortimer returned, as Mickey's Rival (8:16, 1936), eventually getting his own themesong (1:56, modern recording off of TV; better quality song with a still image, 1:35) and again in a modern short (1:30, 2000), amongst other appearances. Then there's Uncle Mortimer, who first traveled with Mickey Mouse in Death Valley, though it's not always clear whose uncle he is. And in the alternate universe that is Bloom County, Mickey's fraternal twin is Mortimer (technically, he resides in Outland).
The last of Disney's Nine Old Men, Ollie Johnston, has passed away at the age of 95. His work at Disney on several classic features and his books with Frank Thomas (The Illusion of Life in particular), have long been inspiring to animators like myself. He was one of the great ones, and will be missed.
Mars and Beyond - 50 years ago, this animated episode of Tomorrowland aired on Disneyland a few months after the launch of Sputnik - an entertaining melange of astronomy, sci-fi, pop culture, science, speculation, and surreality. Walt himself and Wernher von Braun make guest appearances and clip 5 is particularly trippy. (Parts 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
Virtual Space Mountain! Wheeeee! (Click on the second video where you sit in front. What are you, a wuss?) Real video just can't do Space Mountain justice, but it does a pretty good job of capturing some other rides. Feel like revisiting some original Magic Kingdom rides without leaving home? Well here you go... Pirates, Mr. Toad, Small World, Haunted Mansion, Tiki Room, Thunder Mountain, Star Tours, Indiana Jones, Alice in Wonderland, The Jungle Cruise, Matterhorn, Roger Rabbit, the late Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse and a bunch of people covered in lightbulbs dancing to the world's most excruciatingly annoying synthesized music. During your virtual day at the park, please just remember to watch out for Goofy. That dude is nothing but a messed up troublemaker. And don't forget... the parking trams do not go to aisles B as in Bambi & C as in Cinderella.
Just How Influential Is America? Mark Rice-Oxley, writing in the Christian Science Monitor, argues that, 2000 years from now, Disney will probably be more remembered than Plato. Really? [More inside. Via Arts & Letters Daily.]
Walt would turn over in his cryonic chamber... (I know, I know, it's not true.) Speaking of family trees, Roy Disney (the last board member with ties to the founding family) resigned from the company Sunday, calling for the ouster of Chairman Michael Eisner. Stanley Gold soon soon followed. In a harsh letter, Disney said the entertainment conglomerate had "lost its focus, its creative energy, and its heritage" and that the public now held the perception that company is "rapacious, soul-less, and always looking for the 'quick buck'." No word yet from the Disneyland obsessives, but the folks at MousePlanet 's Mousepad seem optimistic about this development...
Yesterland. Discontinued Disneyland attractions. And make your restaurant reservations early for Casa de Fritos.