The animation department of Walt Disney
was in trouble in 1984. WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY chronicles the decade long
story of how the animation studio rose back up leading to the successful animation films such as THE LITTLE MERMAID, BEAUTY
AND THE BEAST, and THE LION KING. This documentary directed by Don Hahn
and produced by Peter Schneider gives an honest insider’s view on the drama and tension from 1984 to 1994 from several
key figures, and also from Hahn and Schneider, who were part of the animation department.
Home movies, photographs, interviews from 60 Minutes, review footage from Siskel & Ebert, and other footage form
this film along with interviews with several people including Michael Eisner (who was brought in to head Walt Disney Pictures
and formed Touchstone Pictures), Jeffrey Katezenberg (who went on to form Dreamworks with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen),
the late Roy E. Disney (who believed animation was the heart of the company), John Lasseter (the key figure behind Pixar),
WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY doesn’t shy
away from the truth or even try to censor itself. It is a candid and very truthful
portrait. It shows the dreams and struggles, the battling egos in
the top leadership, the experiments to push animation further, and the tensions that helped define the animation films into
what they are now for Walt Disney Pictures. It is a unique behind-the-scenes
experience into a company that struggled since the beginning and still continues to survive due to the risks that everyone
took because they understood that Walt Disney needed to change with the times always.
WHY WAKE SLEEPING BEAUTY?- an overview featurette that tells about why the film was made and the response to the film
THE SALIOR, THE MOUNATIN CLIMBER, THE ARTIST,
AND THE POET- a tribute to four of the many key figures in the documentary: Roy
Disney, Frank Wells, Joe Ranft (an animator), and Howard Ashman (a gay man who brought musical theater to the animation films).
A REUNION- Rob Minkoff and Kirk Wise recount
their history of working together that lead them to direct a couple of the animated films talked about in WAKING SLEEPING
The people involved in making this film give their opinions on what Walt would have thought of the documentary and
the story that was told.
Director Don Hahn and Producer Peter Schneider
give more insight into the story in the film along with playing more interview snippets not in the film.
Rounding out the extras are six deleted
scenes of material that didn’t make the final cut and just as fascinating as the material that did make the final cut.
FINAL ANALYSIS: WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY is a fascinating and truthful portrayal of the ten year period that made the Walt
Disney animation department soar again.
This DVD review is ©11-26-2010 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission.
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