Thursday, May 13, 2010

Books About The Disney Movies that Could Have Been

Well, first of all, holy mythology episode, Batman!

As we all know, it takes a very, very long time to make an animated feature film. With that in mind, it isn't all that surprising that many of the films in the Disney Animated Canon were significantly different during the various stages of their production. Other Disney movies never even saw the light of day. Recently, I read (but did not remember to take pictures of) two very different books about this very subject. Both of them were interesting reads, but varied a great deal in content.

Mouse Under Glass by David Koenig, 1997 - Billed as the hidden stories behind Disney movies and theme parks, this is a very quick read. I polished most of it off while waiting in this line:
4.10.10 - Boston Comicon
I don't think I mentioned this before, but there was a very impressive line for Boston Comicon. That's new...
There are no Disney illustrations in this book; the few illustrations are from the literary source materials for the movies. Each chapter covers a different movie in the Canon. A lot of the stories are fairly well-known (and you can find many of them here). There are some cool stories about the controversies over certain Disney movies, but nothing particularly shocking (and you've already read about most of them at Snopes or the aforementioned TV Tropes.) What's most puzzling about this book are it's omissions. "The Black Cauldron" gets a lot of mentions - but, of all movies, it's one of the few features that doesn't get it's own chapter! It's a very strange oversight among several. Also, I think I'm going to be taking some of the trivia in this book with a grain of salt the size of my head, thanks to things like this. Spot the surprisingly common mistake, kids:

The Disney That Never Was by Charles Solomon, 1995 - Actually, I read this book before I read Mouse Under Glass, which turned out to be a mistake as this book put the other one to shame. There are TONS of artwork, salvaged from the Disney Vault and shown to us unwashed fans for the first time. Most of the never-finished films are actually shorts, and altogether not all that interesting. However, there is also a great deal of information about unfinished full-length films like "Chanticleer", "Gremlins", the original "The Little Mermaid" and the "Hans Christian Anderson" anthology film, and all the stalled "Fantasia" sequels.
It should be noted that both of these books made me appreciate "Fantasia" much more. Walt Disney was essentially the James Cameron of his day, making a movie with technology that he had to invent as he went along. Some of his plans for the first "Fantasia" were almost insane. "Odorama" (scents -including real gunpowder- filtered into the theater during key scenes) before there was a word for it. Three screens stitched together for a sort-of Cinerama effect (you can sort of get what Disney was going for by watching the very nice "Impressions De France" film in EPCOT.) And a sort of primitive version of the infamous (and failed) "hologram" skeleton idea kicked around during the production of "Black Cauldron", where the magic brooms in "Sorcerer's Apprentice" would march along the walls of the theater. The whole point of "Fantasia", even as it is today without any of the aforementioned effects, was essentially Disney and his animators getting to say, "Look at what we can do!" Therefore, the many planned periodic "Fantasia" movies (of which we got... one) would have been the animators saying, "Look at what we can do NOW!"
The lack of periodic "Fantasias" may be the single most haunting Disney could-have-beens of all. Think about it. They could have altered the history of American animation!

Phylo (the game formally known as Phylomon) got a mention on GeekDad last week! My little House Sparrow was picked as one of the accompanying illustrations! More exposure, yaaaaaay!!!


Dammit, Blue Sky, I thought you were different! :(

Sketch of the Day!
I have to counter the Worst Thing I Have Drawn Recently (see the previous post) with the BEST Thing I Have Drawn Recently. As always, click to see the big version:

4.29.2010 - The Best Thing Ever.

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