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The Art of Walt Disney: From Mickey Mouse to the Magic Kingdoms

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Based on hundreds of interviews with Disney staff members past and present, this story of Walt Disney and his company's vast artistic achievements through the decades contains more than 800 illustrations ranging from concept art to film stills to views of the theme park attractions. 0-8109-4964-4$60.00 / Harry N. Abrams, Inc.


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Based on hundreds of interviews with Disney staff members past and present, this story of Walt Disney and his company's vast artistic achievements through the decades contains more than 800 illustrations ranging from concept art to film stills to views of the theme park attractions. 0-8109-4964-4$60.00 / Harry N. Abrams, Inc.

30 review for The Art of Walt Disney: From Mickey Mouse to the Magic Kingdoms

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sesana

    This, apparently the most recent edition of The Art of Walt Disney, dates from 2004. For context, that was the year Home on the Range and Incredibles was released. California Adventure and DisneySea were still new, and Hong Kong Disneyland was on the verge of opening. This book tries to cover a lot. Way too much, probably. Why bother covering The Disney Afternoon if you can only give it a few paragraphs, and most of the shows only get one sentence? The individual parks get more, better, and more This, apparently the most recent edition of The Art of Walt Disney, dates from 2004. For context, that was the year Home on the Range and Incredibles was released. California Adventure and DisneySea were still new, and Hong Kong Disneyland was on the verge of opening. This book tries to cover a lot. Way too much, probably. Why bother covering The Disney Afternoon if you can only give it a few paragraphs, and most of the shows only get one sentence? The individual parks get more, better, and more detailed coverage in other books. But we're all really here to read about Disney shorts and animated features. And the older the work, the more information given about it. As time goes by, the sections about each work gets shorter and shorter. So if you're interested in Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, you're in luck. Sleeping Beauty? Not so much. Any book with "art" in the title needs to have great illustrations, and there's some really good stuff in here. Backgrounds, model sheets, concept art, storyboards... It's all very cool. And this is, of course, the real attraction of the book, and why I enjoyed it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Koen

    One of the most beautiful and educative books I ever read. Shows you how f.i. "Snow White" came to be not simply an astounding movie, but one of the 20th century's major works of art. (I lent this wonderful (and very expensive) book, a birthday gift from a cherished ex-loved one, to my then girlfriend's brother more than twenty years ago, under the explicit condition that I wanted it back within three months ... I'm still waiting ... the bastard!)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tracey

    [NOTE: I am reading the 1973 version, so the last movie referenced is The Aristocats A massive coffee-table format book that delves into history of the Walt Disney Studios through the artwork of its cartoon shorts, movies, live-action films and the theme parks. While the author is a bit of a Disney apologist, I found the text fairly engaging, and the artwork astounding - I especially enjoyed the two-page foldouts. The final chapters dealing with the theme parks - Disneyland and the newly-opened [NOTE: I am reading the 1973 version, so the last movie referenced is The Aristocats A massive coffee-table format book that delves into history of the Walt Disney Studios through the artwork of its cartoon shorts, movies, live-action films and the theme parks. While the author is a bit of a Disney apologist, I found the text fairly engaging, and the artwork astounding - I especially enjoyed the two-page foldouts. The final chapters dealing with the theme parks - Disneyland and the newly-opened Walt Disney World (with only the Magic Kingdom, and 2 hotels - the Contemporary & the Polynesian in operation) were quite interesting; as was the article from an architectural magazine - the author's name escapes me at the moment. Definitely worth our purchase price (a steal at $7 used) - recommended to anyone interested in the design and art behind the Walt Disney Productions empire.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ross Bonaime

    Over the quarantine, I've decided to watch all the Disney animated classics in order, and I figured there could be no better companion for this than The Art of Walt Disney by Christopher Finch. The version I have was originally released in the 1970s and republished in the 80s, so it's far from current. By the end of this book, Robin Hood was currently in production and EPCOT was still being planned as the city of the future. But The Art of Walt Disney works great as a solid introduction to the st Over the quarantine, I've decided to watch all the Disney animated classics in order, and I figured there could be no better companion for this than The Art of Walt Disney by Christopher Finch. The version I have was originally released in the 1970s and republished in the 80s, so it's far from current. By the end of this book, Robin Hood was currently in production and EPCOT was still being planned as the city of the future. But The Art of Walt Disney works great as a solid introduction to the story of Walt Disney, Disney as a company and the products that made them the behemoth company they are today. Finch gives only the essential details to Disney's life in how they relate to Disney's life as an artist and producer. I greatly appreciate the detail that Finch goes into those early features, most notably as he digs into those first five masterpieces. But the further into Disney's history the book goes, the less detail he gives to the latter films. Even films that are considered classics get little more than a few screenshots and a quick synopsis. But frankly, I'll give that a slide, since I did enjoy that Finch tends to agree with my more controversial opinions on certain Disney films (Alice in Wonderland and Sleeping Beauty: you're beautiful to look at, but you're empty!) Coming near the end of the book, I also wish Finch had given a bit more coverage to Disney's live-action films, the nature documentaries and especially, the art of the parks. Finch marvels at the brilliance of both Disney World and Disneyland, but then allows most of the chapter to be taken up by an essay from an architecture magazine. It's still interesting to learn about the infrastructure of the parks, but it still ends the book on a dry note. My only real complaint is that this massive 450-page coffee table book isn't bigger. I wish there was more detail to much of the later Disney products, and that they were given as much care as the early shorts and films. Very curious to see what later versions of this book are like and to see if Finch does spread out the information a bit more, because all I want is more of it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alenka

    Having read the biography of Disney this was a nice follow-up. It deals mainly (as the title implies) with the artistic side of the business: how Disney started as a company, what innovations they brought to movie making, especially animated movies, the artistic process of the early movies and some of the later movies, the big breakthroughs, and finally the conception of the idea of Walt Disney world and how it was realized. Very interesting read, nicely complemented with pictures from Disney's Having read the biography of Disney this was a nice follow-up. It deals mainly (as the title implies) with the artistic side of the business: how Disney started as a company, what innovations they brought to movie making, especially animated movies, the artistic process of the early movies and some of the later movies, the big breakthroughs, and finally the conception of the idea of Walt Disney world and how it was realized. Very interesting read, nicely complemented with pictures from Disney's life, early sketches, movies, etc.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jelena Nemet

    All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sydney Smith

    Do you ever wonder what made Walt Disney want to make his company? Then you should read the nonfiction book The Art of Walt Disney- From Mickey Mouse to The Magic Kingdoms by Christopher Finch. In the book Finch explains Walt Disney’s childhood and what made him want to make something out of his drawings that he always loved to do as a child. Then it goes on to tell about his first jobs and things he created including short films and his most popular characters Oswald the Rabbit and Mickey The M Do you ever wonder what made Walt Disney want to make his company? Then you should read the nonfiction book The Art of Walt Disney- From Mickey Mouse to The Magic Kingdoms by Christopher Finch. In the book Finch explains Walt Disney’s childhood and what made him want to make something out of his drawings that he always loved to do as a child. Then it goes on to tell about his first jobs and things he created including short films and his most popular characters Oswald the Rabbit and Mickey The Mouse. After Finch showed how Disney’s mind worked to create his short films and movies. He wrote history on the Disney Parks. Overall, I think this book gave me a good understanding of Walt Disney and made me want to know more about him. I really enjoyed reading this book because it had a good deal of information about Walt Disney and his thought process and got me thinking my MGRP topic. The book was interesting and fun to read because it was interesting to be able to learn about the man who created the movies and characters that we learned to love. Some interesting things that I learned from reading this book are the first animated film that he created was stories on Alice in Wonderland. Also, I learned that Song of The South was the first live action film created by Disney. Finally, the one thing that I learned was that “Walt Disney World opened by Roy Disney (Walt Disney’s Brother) in October 1871.”(p. 152) and that Disney was a collector of mechanical toys and wanted to make an art of screen animation and “the first audio-animatronic models made were some exotic birds which eventually formed the basis of Disneyland’s Tiki Room.” (p. 152) The Art of Walt Disney: From Mickey Mouse to The Magic Kingdoms influenced me to do my MGRP on Walt Disney because the book showed me how interesting Walt Disney is and what made him want to make his company the way that he did. Finch showed that Walt Disney started off with short films and went to make larger movies and soon the Disney Parks. I want to learn more in my research about his movies and what made him create them, his childhood/ family life, and the Walt Disney Parks and what he did to make the Disney company so successful. Finally, I really liked this book so much because gave me a good understanding of Walt Disney made me want to learn more about him and his company. I definitely would recommend this book to people that enjoy Walt Disney/ his company and would like to learn more about him. However, I think that the author could organize the book a little better so it’s easier to find certain information throughout the book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Vimacone

    There have been several updated versions over the years. The one that I have is the original 1973 version, which is what I'll be describing. There are several production sketches and drawings which I haven't seen published in any other book. In the section on the features, more attention is given to Snow White, Pinocchio, and Fantasia than any other feature which shouldn't be too surprising since those were the first 3 films which were made when the quality if Disney animation was at its pinnacl There have been several updated versions over the years. The one that I have is the original 1973 version, which is what I'll be describing. There are several production sketches and drawings which I haven't seen published in any other book. In the section on the features, more attention is given to Snow White, Pinocchio, and Fantasia than any other feature which shouldn't be too surprising since those were the first 3 films which were made when the quality if Disney animation was at its pinnacle. The other films only get a couple of screen grabs or are not mentioned at all. The 1973 edition has a section on the making of the then new release Robin Hood, which has had little coverage in any Disney book. I highly recommend getting the 1973 or 1995 edition.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    Walt Disney was born in 1901, into a world that was just beginning to test the bounds of photography and stop-action photos that were the beginnings of animation. He began his craft at the Kansas City Film Ad where he basically produced commercials. He began to create short animations called "Laugh-o-Grams" which became popular enough for Disney to hire staff and expand his enterprise. Eventually Walt moved to California and started his business that would become more lucrative than his wildest Walt Disney was born in 1901, into a world that was just beginning to test the bounds of photography and stop-action photos that were the beginnings of animation. He began his craft at the Kansas City Film Ad where he basically produced commercials. He began to create short animations called "Laugh-o-Grams" which became popular enough for Disney to hire staff and expand his enterprise. Eventually Walt moved to California and started his business that would become more lucrative than his wildest imaginings. Mickey Mouse made his debut in 1928, quickly followed by Minnie Mouse and Donald Duck who became so popular he nearly eclipsed Mickey's star. The greatest success of Walt's early years was the 1933 production of the "Three Little Pigs". Experimenting with animation, Walt began dreaming of making feature length films and in 1937 "Snow White" opened at a star-studded premiere. Countless successes would follow as well as a few films not quite so warmly embraced by the public. Two of his most famous titles, "Bambi" and "Dumbo", suffered from the unfortunate timing of being produced at the beginning of WWII. Disney Studios shelved animated films for several years as they produced short instructional films for the government. Once the war was over, Disney again began feature length animated films; Peter Pan, Cinderella, Lady and the Tramp and Sleeping Beauty were only a few of his well-received titles. Live action films began in the 1940's with "Song of the South" and "So Dear To My Heart". In the 50's Walt began producing "True Life Adventures", a series of films dealing with nature. In 1964 the Disney Studios reached their pinnacle with their most popular movie yet: "Mary Poppins". As Walt began to feel the effects of age and ill-health he turned his talents and vivid imagination to the building of Disneyland. Walt did not live to see his dream of Disney World fulfilled but his legacy lives on in everything he touched. This book was published in 1975 and the next big Disney venture was only in the development stage: Epcot Center.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Luke White

    I read the version which has been updated to include Tangled and Disney's California Adventure park expansion. I found the book as a whole to be a fascinating dive into animation history offering complex critical analyses of the Disney canon. These are given alongside stories, anecdotes, and historical context surrounding their development, release, and eventual reception. Finch also pays close to attention to weigh each development on its own terms as well as judging it against the greater Disn I read the version which has been updated to include Tangled and Disney's California Adventure park expansion. I found the book as a whole to be a fascinating dive into animation history offering complex critical analyses of the Disney canon. These are given alongside stories, anecdotes, and historical context surrounding their development, release, and eventual reception. Finch also pays close to attention to weigh each development on its own terms as well as judging it against the greater Disney canon as a whole. This is done with some success, except where he fails to acknowledge shifting audience expectations that make judging the success of "Snow White" versus something like "Mulan" a case of apples and oranges. I appreciated the comprehensiveness of the work, especially its attempt to place the Pixar story within the Disney narrative while still acknowledging Pixar's independent successes. Where the book fails to unpack the true significance of "art" within the company is in its analysis of the parks. Much of those chapters merely offer a cursory history of their development and listing of their unique offerings without much analysis of their artistic or cultural success like Finch offers for the films. Of course, that effort could double the size of the book and other books have done this well enough already ("Designing Disney's Theme Parks"). However, more effort could have been given to showing how the developments in the parks were extensions of knowledge gained from animation and film. Overall, I really enjoyed the book. It renewed my appreciation and increased my knowledge of animation and the Walt Disney Company as a whole. A must read for any fan of Disney or animation!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jaimie

    Note: this is the condensed version of Finch’s more lengthy (ca. 500 page) publication about Disney. I’ve read a couple of other books on the history and art of Walt Disney which go into a huge amount of detail about the development of the company that dominates American animation as well as the individual films that led to its success, but this book is a pretty decent light take on the subject. Finch discusses the early days of Disney and his development into a business mogul in just enough det Note: this is the condensed version of Finch’s more lengthy (ca. 500 page) publication about Disney. I’ve read a couple of other books on the history and art of Walt Disney which go into a huge amount of detail about the development of the company that dominates American animation as well as the individual films that led to its success, but this book is a pretty decent light take on the subject. Finch discusses the early days of Disney and his development into a business mogul in just enough detail that we’re kept engaged, but steers far clear of attempting to be a really comprehensive history. He covers Disney’s earliest short films (spending more time on these than any of the other topics it seems) and the initial full length features before delving into brief discussions on Disney’s ventures into live action and the ideas behind Disneyland and Disneyworld. I’m generally always more interested in more in depth discussions on specific projects - give me an entire book on Fantasia, PLEASE - but this was an easy to read introduction to Disney’s history, which showcases Finch’s passion for sharing film (and specifically the art of animation) history.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    A fascinating look into the processes of Walt Disney's many creative projects -- from his early animated cartoons and feature films, to the planning and beginnings of Disneyland and Walt Disney World -- which, although written in almost a dry, textbook style, nevertheless is chock-full of interesting behind-the-scenes information as well as critiques of the actual artistic factors of each. Sprinkled with samples, sketches, and photographs, the book merely scratches the surface of what could have A fascinating look into the processes of Walt Disney's many creative projects -- from his early animated cartoons and feature films, to the planning and beginnings of Disneyland and Walt Disney World -- which, although written in almost a dry, textbook style, nevertheless is chock-full of interesting behind-the-scenes information as well as critiques of the actual artistic factors of each. Sprinkled with samples, sketches, and photographs, the book merely scratches the surface of what could have been explored in its pages; but what is there seemed a good snack, and a concise overview. I love how the "nerdy" side of things is not much overlooked in this book, but is included in the treatment of each project. Not only the artwork itself and its subjects are touched upon, but also the difficulties and triumphs met by Walt and his team in technical areas regarding camera work, evolving developments in animation, audio-animatronic figures, transit systems, and more. In short, this book could have been five times as large and it would still have kept my interest.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ella Catherall

    What this book did it did very well. However, it was not what I was looking for. Much of the descriptions of TV shows and movie bits just seemed to be lists of reviews of movies. There's nothing wrong with this and the artwork included is marvellous. The issue is that I was hoping this would go into the ways that the movies were made more than it did. A further issue that I had with this was that it made it seem, in most cases, like there were no slip-ups in the path of the company, other than ' What this book did it did very well. However, it was not what I was looking for. Much of the descriptions of TV shows and movie bits just seemed to be lists of reviews of movies. There's nothing wrong with this and the artwork included is marvellous. The issue is that I was hoping this would go into the ways that the movies were made more than it did. A further issue that I had with this was that it made it seem, in most cases, like there were no slip-ups in the path of the company, other than 'The Black Cauldron'. There were plenty of financial issues and issues with unions and stuff which would have been interesting to delve into - it makes it seem like Walt Disney was some kind of genius who was never wrong which is simply false as no one is like that. Regardless, it's a very pretty book and I would recommend it if you like anything Disney, no matter how dedicated you are.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    The art, both from completed works and sketches from the early stages of concept and character are stunning. Its an older book so it is missing everything made in my lifetime but it held some interesting detail and history. I did feel the author gave their opinion of finished works a little too much as the final take on things rather than only their opinion and feelings. That annoyed me a bit, but otherwise it was a fun read with my daughter to fulfill a biography requirement in her reading for The art, both from completed works and sketches from the early stages of concept and character are stunning. Its an older book so it is missing everything made in my lifetime but it held some interesting detail and history. I did feel the author gave their opinion of finished works a little too much as the final take on things rather than only their opinion and feelings. That annoyed me a bit, but otherwise it was a fun read with my daughter to fulfill a biography requirement in her reading for 3rd grade. And since libraries are closed at the moment we had to use the one I had on hand passed down from my parents years ago.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Annika Brock

    A little torn on what to rate this one, but because it more sold as an art book and did well with having concept art and finished backgrounds and stuff, I've bumped it up a bit. One main thing that annoyed me is that there was a bit a generalization about review and reception of some of the films, especially more recent ones, that doesn't feel accurate. I feel it was more the author's personal feelings than anything, though I suppose it may have lined up with critic reviews, which, as we all kno A little torn on what to rate this one, but because it more sold as an art book and did well with having concept art and finished backgrounds and stuff, I've bumped it up a bit. One main thing that annoyed me is that there was a bit a generalization about review and reception of some of the films, especially more recent ones, that doesn't feel accurate. I feel it was more the author's personal feelings than anything, though I suppose it may have lined up with critic reviews, which, as we all know, are generally garbage anyway.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Books Tell Tales

    I found this book incredibly enlightening into Walt Disney's life, although at times the description lacked information - telling us, for example, that one film was an innovation (having previously explained us the reasons why we can call it an innovation) but wasn't the success that the company was expecting, this time without telling us how and the possible reasons why it wasn't. Very detailed book, appart from those few instances.

  17. 5 out of 5

    H.G. Howell

    More or less the same as From Mickey Mouse to Beauty and the Beast. Not as much info on the parks as I would have liked and really just a retread of what I have already read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Coleman Wigger

    Great artwork collection.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Camille

    I have a good feeling about this

  20. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    A must-read for any Disney fan!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany Spencer

    The Art of Walt Disney Plot: This chronicles the story of Walt Disney’s life, from the beginning years of his life as a small boy on the farm to the last year of planning for the creation of Walt Disney Land before cancer took him. And all the movies and innovations he created in the name of animation in between. My Thoughts: This was A LOT of information to digest! But I’m surprised that the pages weren’t as many as I thought they were. I own the hardcover edition and it is THICK! And I was happ The Art of Walt Disney Plot: This chronicles the story of Walt Disney’s life, from the beginning years of his life as a small boy on the farm to the last year of planning for the creation of Walt Disney Land before cancer took him. And all the movies and innovations he created in the name of animation in between. My Thoughts: This was A LOT of information to digest! But I’m surprised that the pages weren’t as many as I thought they were. I own the hardcover edition and it is THICK! And I was happy to see this could be read in a manageable amount of time. I’m not sure I ever got through the hard copy I have. (This eBook version I found on Open Library). And although this gives you a lot, of good to know knowledge about Walt and all the great Disney animators from the old days, much of it probably won’t stick after you turn the last page. That’s not to say it’s not an absolutely GORGEOUS book! The earlier cells from some of the classic movies are BREATHTAKINGLY beautiful and EXTREMELY valuable just to have copies in your hand. And just even if you’re not from the days of the earlier cartoons, look them up on YouTube and you’ll find appreciation and a warmth for them in your heart. In the Microsoft Store, there’s even an app that’s free that you can see what they’re describing if a short is mentioned in a chapter that features most of the earlier black and white (and later Technicolor) Mickey and the Silly Symphonies. I do wish that the book would have gone a little more into Walt Disney Land and the ideas that went on in the creator’s minds for the attractions and different shops. And I thought that it was sad that he didn’t get to live to see what a monumental impact Disney Land and later Disney World had for people all over the world. But it was inspiring to read his story! Rating: 10 Because the illustrations are just PRICELESS!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Luly

    The Art of Walt Disney has been, for decades, the quintessential Disney book, because it's set in the intersection of a lot of sub-genres of the subject. I consider that Disney books can be roughly grouped in different categories, according to what they focus on: history, animation, art, business, keepsakes & collectibles, imagineering & parks, live-action movies, to name some of them. Normally, they focus on one or two of those things, but this book offers a wider view, which goes through histo The Art of Walt Disney has been, for decades, the quintessential Disney book, because it's set in the intersection of a lot of sub-genres of the subject. I consider that Disney books can be roughly grouped in different categories, according to what they focus on: history, animation, art, business, keepsakes & collectibles, imagineering & parks, live-action movies, to name some of them. Normally, they focus on one or two of those things, but this book offers a wider view, which goes through history, animation, live-action, business and theme parks through the years of the company. Disney seems to agree about the importance of this book, since it has had, at least, 6 editions through the years: 1973, 1975, 1995, 1999, 2004 and 2011. It is uncertain if, with the introduction of apps like Disney Animated, the book will continue to be expanded, but it would be greatly appreciated if the tradition carried on. I longed for the 2011 edition for a long time, but I came across the rare 1999 concise edition and decided to give it a go, since adding at least one The Art of Walt Disney book to my Disney collection was greatly needed. This edition starts with Walt's beginnings, even before Laugh-O-Gram, and ends with the Eisner era (after Katzenberg left and Wells passed away), years before Iger, as you can guess. This means it spans the entirety of the Renaissance era in animation (the last movies included are Tarzan, Fantasia 2000 and Toy Story 2); whereas, parks-wise, it ends with Animal Kingdom's introduction and Celebration, and the international parks included are Tokyo and Paris. It also includes live actions such as the Miramax and Touchstone movies, as well as the Disney ones. I find that this edition is missing from most places when you look up the book, maybe it was short lived, since a next edition came less than 5 years after it, but it's a good stepping stone to have the entire Renaissance movies included in one place. I think this is a starter book for any Disney shelf, but it may be somewhat repetitive in instances if you have information from various historical moments in Disney elsewhere. If you're more interested on going in-depth on a specific subject (like a certain business deal or a specific movie), it may be not thorough enough, but if you're looking for a lot of information in one place, a source to have a bit of everything Disney, it's a great 101 book to own (it even mentions some of the Disney Theatrical releases!). It does hold some subjective values and opinions here and there, when it comes to movies, but it isn't enough to make it bothersome. The bad side of this book is that things change so fast and so dramatically in Disney, that all editions end up being late by the time they come out, so depending on which edition you grab, you will find some information that isn't up to date anymore. Still, it's a great way to keep records and have a wide diachronic view of Disney as a whole: as a company, an artistic beacon and the dream of a man that outlives him.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    Regardless of whether you believe that Walt Disney bastardized numerous fairy tales or made them saccharine-sweet to make them palatable for families, there is no denying the influence he has had on the world of animation and movie making. His movies showed the world what could be done with animation and his constant drive to push technology and creativity forward paved the way for the Disneyland resorts and entire areas of entertainment that were unheard of when he first began his company in th Regardless of whether you believe that Walt Disney bastardized numerous fairy tales or made them saccharine-sweet to make them palatable for families, there is no denying the influence he has had on the world of animation and movie making. His movies showed the world what could be done with animation and his constant drive to push technology and creativity forward paved the way for the Disneyland resorts and entire areas of entertainment that were unheard of when he first began his company in the 1930s. This massive tome goes into great detail about the creation of his animated shorts which in turn led to the first animated movie 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarves." The author discusses how Disney surrounded himself with incredibly talented men and women who were interested in crafting imaginative and thoroughly engrossing films that would be embraced by all. The book doesn't shy away from Disney's personality which at times alienated people and it goes into great detail the times the company was nearly shut down due to money woes as well as periods of disharmony in the company which caused inferior films to be released. But through each incident that would have driven many to abandon the movie business, Disney persevered and pushed on, creating a place for himself and his creations in pop culture forever. This book touches on every one of the Disney animated films with some getting more pages than others. Some times it feels like the writer is rushing through some films just to get to ones he enjoys more. I do understand if he had written pages and pages on each movie, the entire book would be more than a 1,000 pages, but some movies only get a brief one or two paragraphs when they deserved more. The book also discusses the live action films Disney produced. Again, sadly some movies only get a brief mention and others like 'Pete's Dragon' don't merit any attention. The book also delves into the creation of the Disneyland resorts around the world and how Pixar pushed Disney honchos further and pushed the world of animation into new territories of imagination and creativity. This is a very informative book with great accompanying pictures of both the artists and the movies. There is a lot of interesting information and lots of details for Disneyphiles. It's definitely worth reading and owning. I do hope someday that a truly definitive edition is written that does come close to a 1,000 pages.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    [The version I read was the 2011 edition, where the most recent film releases were Tangled for Disney and Toy Story 3 for Pixar (just before the release of Cars 2)] The Art of Walt Disney is a part-art-book part-biography of Walt Disney himself and the growth of his eponymous company. It's a huge volume, a coffee table style book, with full pages of lavish artwork and concept designs, brought into a framework with a narrative about Disney's beginnings and the creation of each of their works. It ru [The version I read was the 2011 edition, where the most recent film releases were Tangled for Disney and Toy Story 3 for Pixar (just before the release of Cars 2)] The Art of Walt Disney is a part-art-book part-biography of Walt Disney himself and the growth of his eponymous company. It's a huge volume, a coffee table style book, with full pages of lavish artwork and concept designs, brought into a framework with a narrative about Disney's beginnings and the creation of each of their works. It runs mostly chronologically, about how Disney got into animation originally, through the creation of Mickey Mouse, production of shorts, and eventual move to feature length films. The stories are told in great detail, with nods to significant personel and explanations of work and technology. The narrative up through the first five feature films (Snow White, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo and Bambi) is excellent, and you get a real sense of the development of the studio and the productions. Aaaaaand then it went from a five-star review to a three-star review from there. It continues with a sense of "well, we've explained the basics, now lets rattle on through the rest". The other films are all talked about individually, in order, but in nowhere near as much detail. The death of Walt Disney, and the Dark Period and the Renaissance are all explained but it always felt like it kept coming up short and moving on to the next topic too quickly. A lot of the time for films, descriptions were kept to a handful of short paragraphs, the majority of which were just synopses of the film plot. In places these descriptions border on film reviews, with the author stating whether the result was good or bad as if it was fact. I took the short and blunt medicore review of 'The Emporer's New Groove' quite personally (it's my favourite). After the run through the film progression, up to Tangled, the book goes into the development of the Pixar studios, how they became successful and were eventually brought into the Disney fold. After this is a short piece on live-action productions, and the book ends with chapters on the Disney theme parks. It's a good, broad overview of the history of Disney. It's difficult to review because the first third/half is SO fantastic, I wish it had continued like that for the whole volume. The first half is a definite must-read for Disney fans, but the rest doesn't go into enough detail to be satisfying.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Roy Gloeckl

    This was an absolutely fascinating read. The background information on the films, animated and live-action, as well as the parks all around the world, are exactly what any Disney fan would want to read. There were a few moments when I thought there could have been less synopsis of a movie and more background information. In fact, some movies seemed to get *just* a synopsis and the author's opinion, no background information at all. That brings me to the other thing that kind of grated on my nerve This was an absolutely fascinating read. The background information on the films, animated and live-action, as well as the parks all around the world, are exactly what any Disney fan would want to read. There were a few moments when I thought there could have been less synopsis of a movie and more background information. In fact, some movies seemed to get *just* a synopsis and the author's opinion, no background information at all. That brings me to the other thing that kind of grated on my nerves in this book: the author. I suppose I should understand his critical way of looking at the animated films. He analyzes the technical aspects, the character design, story, artistic vision, overall product, musical score, etc. I totally appreciate that. What bothered me was when he would not hesitate to call movies I found very enjoyable to be "utter failures" and therefore, not bother to offer much more information beyond why he thought they were bad. Dinosaur, Treasure Planet, Tarzan, Hercules and worst of all, Alice in Wonderland, were all some of the animated films he labeled as failures. Disney itself has a way of doing this same thing, ignoring the movies that didn't bring in the money and pushing the ones that did. Sure, that makes sound business sense but giving a bit of attention to them won't kill you. There are people out there that *loved* Hercules. Alice is a cult phenomenon. While I love The Lion King, Aladdin, B&B and the Little Mermaid, there is only so many park rides/attractions and merchandise one can stand from those films before they become old news. Just like Disney, he decided that these "lesser movies" didn't deserve anything but his derision and he quickly moved on. No concept art, no background, nothing. For a book as big as this one, you could have included *one* piece of concept art from *any* of these...jerk. All in all, lots of great information. Heavy book though. I think I hurt my wrist holding it up to read in bed. Can you get carpal tunnel from holding up a book?

  26. 5 out of 5

    Gijs Grob

    An abbreviated Dutch softcover version of this book was without doubt the first book that draw me into Disney and into classic cartoons in general. I was therefore very happy to get hold on the first edition of the English version, which is HUGE. Finch's book is from 1973, and one of the earliest books on the history of animation, and it still is an excellent introduction to Disney's life and work, from his humble beginnings in Kansas City to the creation of Disney World and EPCOT centre. Finch An abbreviated Dutch softcover version of this book was without doubt the first book that draw me into Disney and into classic cartoons in general. I was therefore very happy to get hold on the first edition of the English version, which is HUGE. Finch's book is from 1973, and one of the earliest books on the history of animation, and it still is an excellent introduction to Disney's life and work, from his humble beginnings in Kansas City to the creation of Disney World and EPCOT centre. Finch points out that Disney's work is the result of many men, some of which are called by name, like Norman Ferguson. The biggest draw is the enormous amount of gorgeous illustrations, including storyboard drawings, layout drawings, animation drawings, background paintings, and behind-the-scenes photographs. To me, as a fan of Disney animation, the book dies out a little when covering Disney's nature documentaries, live action films and theme parks, but Finch manages to show that all these are only different outings of Walt Disney's strong vision on storytelling. In that respect Disneyland and Disneyworld can be regarded as translations of cinema into a 3-dimensional space, thus revolutionizing the amusement park field, and according to an added essay by Peter Blake, city architecture in general. In short, this book cannot be praised enough, as not only one of the first, but still one of the most satisfying introductions on Walt Disney.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

    In truth, I mostly picked up this book because of all the illustrations. There were so many, and they are beautiful. But the book itself proved fun, too, talking about Walt Disney's life and the movies he made during his lifetime. The background information was interesting, and I learned a few new things about Disney and animation that I hadn't come across before. I'd have given the book 5 stars, but the Dutch translation was a bit stiff, and sometimes the author seemed to lack a bit of depth in In truth, I mostly picked up this book because of all the illustrations. There were so many, and they are beautiful. But the book itself proved fun, too, talking about Walt Disney's life and the movies he made during his lifetime. The background information was interesting, and I learned a few new things about Disney and animation that I hadn't come across before. I'd have given the book 5 stars, but the Dutch translation was a bit stiff, and sometimes the author seemed to lack a bit of depth in his text, just saying "this movie wasn't as good (as the first three)", but he failed to give clear reasonings. On a more subjective note: I was surprised by him naming Pinocchio Walt's masterpiece, which I haven't really heard anyone say before. I had expected Fantasia to get that title.. but I suppose that's a reason for me to go watch Pinocchio again, haven't seen it in ages. I just remember not liking it, but maybe I should pay more attention the animation this time around. In short: this is a quick read, and a concise history of the history of Walt Disney. Don't expect to really get to know Walt Disney however, little time is spent on his character, and he already is a mysterious, distant figure to begin with. But if you care about his movies, or the beginnings of Disneyland, this book serves quite well as an introduction.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    This huge book (500 pages, coffee table size, $85.00) is revised for 2011 to include Pixar, and would be a great gift for any Disney (or art) fan. I especially love to see attention given to the lighting, color palette, story boards, art direction, and the great work of the artists who work on concept, development, backgrounds, and everything else that gives an animated movie its mood and feel. And though I love the Pixar movies too, there is something much less compelling about a series of stil This huge book (500 pages, coffee table size, $85.00) is revised for 2011 to include Pixar, and would be a great gift for any Disney (or art) fan. I especially love to see attention given to the lighting, color palette, story boards, art direction, and the great work of the artists who work on concept, development, backgrounds, and everything else that gives an animated movie its mood and feel. And though I love the Pixar movies too, there is something much less compelling about a series of stills that are CGI as compared to hand-drawn work. I also liked reading about Mary Poppins: "Julie Andrews offered a more youthful and glamorous Mary Poppins than the one found on the printed page, but she also brought a charm and spark of her own, and her vocal and dance talents -- matched to memorable songs -- proved great assets. In the end, though, the key to her performance was her ability to seem prim and proper yet perpetually on the verge of some kind of marvelous insanity." "Walt Disney picked Julie Andrews to play Mary Poppins in part because he was impressed by her whistling ability."

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rick Ludwig

    This was an excellent treatment of the output of the Disney organization from the days of Walt's personal leadership to the present. When you see it all before you in one beautiful package the impact is tremendous. Even the commercial failures , which were many and were described as such in the book, always led to something new and to the development of new talent within this organization. By emphasizing the work, more than the personalities, the author painted a very interesting and valuable pi This was an excellent treatment of the output of the Disney organization from the days of Walt's personal leadership to the present. When you see it all before you in one beautiful package the impact is tremendous. Even the commercial failures , which were many and were described as such in the book, always led to something new and to the development of new talent within this organization. By emphasizing the work, more than the personalities, the author painted a very interesting and valuable picture of the creative output. Many reviewers have criticized him for not naming enough names up front and distributing credit to the folks that did all of the hard work. I must say I understand the criticism, but disagree. This book is not about people, but about product; and, as long as the reader understands this, the work justifies its contribution to the picture of this unique organization's impact. No one book has to cover every perspective. This book does exactly what it set out to do and does it very, very well.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Violetta

    It took a while to get through this one (3 weeks for me, I think). The narrative that goes along with the photographs and other images was very informative, but felt rather unbalanced in which topics were fully explored and which were glossed over. For example, Pocahontas gets a few paragraphs of explanation (mostly discussing the novelty of the film and the character development), but Mulan gets less than one paragraph to herself (mostly expounding the plot instead of any social or technical ad It took a while to get through this one (3 weeks for me, I think). The narrative that goes along with the photographs and other images was very informative, but felt rather unbalanced in which topics were fully explored and which were glossed over. For example, Pocahontas gets a few paragraphs of explanation (mostly discussing the novelty of the film and the character development), but Mulan gets less than one paragraph to herself (mostly expounding the plot instead of any social or technical advancements that were made with the film). It's a useful book for getting a historical grasp on Walt Disney studios, and an excellent beginner's guide to critiquing many Disney works, but if you're looking for a more technical guide on how the movies were made, or on the creative technique behind any of the films, I would suggest tracking down the individual "making-of" book for that movie instead.

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