Saturday, 19 March 2011

The Animation Timeline - Walt Disney (1901 - 1966)

Figure 1, (2011), Steamboat Willie

Disney presented his first idea of an animated cartoon that is known today worldwide as Mickey Mouse but the character began life on board a boat in black white in Steamboat Willie (1928). Disney experimented with sound in this first piece and was a success with it's combination of characters and music. Micky mouse became the icon of Disney's company and animated cartoons, which later inspired a range of new distinct characters. "The classic Disney cartoons in this collection were intended for the silver screen, as theatrical shorts, and it shows. The quality of the animation is superb and the stories are often complex and more interesting than your average cartoon fare." (Trandahl, 2011) This reference identifies how the cartoons have survived and evolved for new generations of audience, with strong story lines and remembered characters.

Figure 2, (2011), Snow White

Snow White (1937) marked the first of the full length animated features in colour and sound. This particular story derived from the original 'Brother's Grimm' fairy tales but Disney took away the violent and sexual references to make it into a family feature film. Disney went on to produce many more animated full length features making them lovable and popular for the family target audience and stripping the original dark context and meaning. "Snow White marked the onset of the animated feature. Considered a massive risk at the time, Walt Disney's critics looked into the future and saw a man in ruin. At least that's the legend that's grown in the (70) years since it was made. Obviously the critics were wrong and the film connected with the movie - going public and launched an iconic Hollywood institution." (Cracknell, 2011) Snow white was obviously a risk as the first of it's kind and the 'Critics' mentioned in the evidence obviously didn't see Disney's idea taking off but movie connected with the audience because of it's charm and lovable qualities. Disney continued this style in his post animated features and is now one of the most popular franchises.

 Figure 3, (2011), Fantasia - The Sorcerer's Apprentice

 Figure 4, (2010), Fantasia - Chernabog

In 1940, Walt Disney produced another experimental piece known as Fantasia full of short animations that respond to the classic music pieces played. Narrated by Deem's Taylor in a concert style, the animations capture co-existing and conflicting themes such as nature and the four seasons or heaven and hell. The Sorcerer's Apprentice saw Disney's iconic character Mickey neglect his master's magic which allows inanimate objects to come to life as if they were real people and had a whole successful wash of colour and silhouettes as the piece drifted into chaos and the brooms become out of control. The Chernabog section emphasised how dark and villainous, Disney can make his characters. Chernaborg represented a dark and powerful opposing figure controlling the dead souls to an evil soundtrack making this piece terrifying in Disney's iconic style of animation. "I'm referring of course to Fantasia, the baldest expression of Walt's desire that animation be taken as seriously as any other art form, and the most technologically accomplished film he ever oversaw, with it's cutting-edge sound system..." (Brayton, 2010) as suggested in the evidence, Fantasia was an accomplishment because of the rhythm of the music and animation and how they interlinked to strong animated shorts. Fantasia was remastered in 2000, which saw the release of new animated shorts but whereas the original was more influenced by Europe, the updated version was influenced from all over the world in a range of styles. The Fire Bird sequence clearly demonstrates that technique and style came from Japan because of the design of characters and style of story.

 Figure 5, (2011), Fantasia 2000 - Fire bird


Figure 1, (2011), Steamboat Willie,@, Accessed on; 2011

Figure 2, (2011), Snow White, @, Accessed on: 2011

Figure 3, (2011), Fantasia - The Sorcerer's Apprentice, @, Accessed on: 2008

Figure 4, (2010), Fantasia - Chernabog, @, Accessed on: 9th November 2009

Figure 5, (2011), Fantasia 2000 - Fire bird, @, Accessed on: 2000


Brayton Tim, (2010), Disney animation: Sight and Sound, @, Accessed on: 31st October 2009

Cracknell Ryan, (2011), Review Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, @, Accessed on: 29th October 2009

Trandahl Paul, (2011), Movie Review: Walt Disney Cartoon Classics video series, @, Accessed on: 2007

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