The Art of Walt Disney: From Mickey Mouse to the Magic Kingdoms and Beyond
Originally published in 1973, Finch’s classic book on the artistic innovations of Walt Disney has been revised and expanded several times, and with each edition his definition of "art" becomes more suspect. The book’s original material, much of which Finch wisely retains, patiently records the art, inventions and shrewd enterprises of the studio’s legendary early years, while offering a fascinating tutorial on the birth of animation. Seventy lavishly illustrated pages are devoted to the Mickey and Donald years, another 50 to the movies Snow White and Pinocchio. Walt Disney stars in these early chapters as an artistic Icarus whose prodigal budgets and "quest for perfection" pushed his production teams to unprecedented heights. An unapologetic apologist, Finch is always there to defend Disney (whom he considers "the ultimate auteur") against critics who have called him a "backward-looking" artist and even "an advocate of political authoritarianism." Such biases aside, the book manages to tell a rousing tale of Disney’s creative life—right up to his 1965 deathbed hallucination of the yet-unrealized Epcot Center. This new edition, however, also takes on Disney’s posthumous life, when his ambitions outlive his quirky personality and are carried out by foot soldiers called "imagineers." The sundry innovations of Tim Burton, Pixar and two Broadway spinoffs may loosely qualify as the "Art of Disney," but so, too, according to Finch, do the corporation’s war chest of "toontowns," movie rides and international theme parks. Boldly blurring the line between art and money, Finch’s sprawling hagiography of the Magic Kingdom touches down for a perfect Hollywood ending: "Perhaps the greatest achievement of Michael Eisner ...," it concludes, "has been to build a company in which no creative endeavor need be aborted for lack of available funding." Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.