Saturday, 19 March 2011

The Animation Timeline:Walt Elias Disney(1901-1966)

FIG.1 Walt Disney
Walter Elias Disney was an American film producer, director and animator who is worldwide known for his influence in the field of animation and entertainment. He created the most famous fictional characters including Mickey Mouse, a character he claimed he created while looking himself in the mirror. What makes Disney's characters so appealing to the world was the fact that they are 'believable', meaning that the audience could identify with them. They all give the impression of everyday people facing everyday problems , a crucial element to make characters identify with the audience. He has won a great number of  Academy Awards and has been nominated more than 50 times, and is the  co-founder of The Walt Disney Company which is estimated to have annual revenues of 35 billion dollars.
Walt Disney first came to Hollywood in 1923 where he began working on some animation featuring animal characters. But the one character that took off with his appearance in Steamboat Willie(1928)(FIG.2), the first cartoon with synchronised sound, was Mickey Mouse a character so beloved and distinctive who remains immoral even today. The music in Steamboat Willie didn't just accompany the action; it helped create the story and tied together the competing elements while its sound effects were clever and witty. From that day forward sound was no longer something kept in the background of animated films but an essential element to the story. "Only a few words of dialogue are included in Steamboat Willie, most of the audio track being a fusion of music and cleverly synced sound effects that must have amazed and delighted the first sound audiences." (Goldmark.2002:122)

FIG.2: Steamboat Willie
Later on Disney produced Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs(1937)(FIG.3) the first full-length animated feature in motion picture history.The film has attracted a good deal of critical attention from different perspectives and won a few academy awards. The film featured the most detailed animation ever attempted, right down to the props and backgrounds. The layouts and character designs still look amazing today and considering the lack of equipment back in the days it was made it should undoubtedly be named as a masterpiece, an achievement pushed to the limits of animation.   

FIG.3: Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs
Snow White was followed by Fantasia(1940)(FIG..4), Disney's psychedelic animated film featuring as series of short films accompanied by classic music. Most of the characters are inanimate objects coming to life- yet they looked more alive than ever. Disney once again managed to make his characters "believable" not by giving them facial features but the body language and attitude required to bring a character to life. Like in Steamboat Willie again Disney used music wisely in this animation. Everything was orbiting around the music of the film-moods, flows, attitudes, situations..."When Fantasia was first released in the 1940's, it was considered an oddity. Sitting infront of this daring cinematic experiment today, it is conclusive that its creator, Walt Disney, was not only ahead of his time, but also understood applications of the medium that would link animation and live action, narrative and non-narrative films." (LoBrutto.2005:136)

FIG.4: Fantasia
Walt Disney Pictures
Even after his death in 1966 Walt Disney's followers continue to take his advice in what makes an animated film successful. His achievements are noticeable to Hollywood Cinema while the whole world will always consider his films as a piece of their childhood. His films were not for children but for the child each and everyone of us is keeping inside.


Goldmark, Daniel(2002) The Cartoon Music Book. USA: A Capella Books
LoBrutto, Vincent(2005) Becoming Film Literate. USA: British Library

List of Illustrations

FIG.1: W.Disney At: (accessed on 19/3/2011)
FIG.2: Steamboat Willie At: on 19/3/2011)
FIG.4: Fantasia At: (accessed on 19/3/2011)
FIG.3: Snow White At: (accessed on 19/3/2011)
FIG.5: Walt Disney Pictures At:  (accessed on 19/3/2011)

No comments:

Post a Comment