Ring in the new year with Mikey Burgett, and this week’s Movies You Have Not Seen But Should: Waking Sleeping Beauty!
Waking Sleeping Beauty
Happy New Year! Welcome to the first Movies You Have Not Have Seen But You Should of 2014. Thanks so much for those of you regular readers of this series and hope you continue to enjoy the films we’ve mentioned. And welcome those of you who are new to the series, hope you enjoy the films we highlight as well. And feel free to leave comments about the films. To kick of the new year of 2014, we will look at the 2009 documentary film Waking Sleeping Beauty.
If the title doesn’t give it away, the focus on this documentary is Walt Disney Animation. Specifically, it looks at the time period from the mid 1980s to the mid 1990s. For those that don’t remember the early 1980s, it was a down time for Disney Animation. The past successes of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Pinocchio and Dumbo were in the past. While they continued to release animated films, Disney Animation seemed to be in a slump. As the documentary begins, the year is 1984. It is right before hitting rock bottom. What is rock bottom? That happens with the release of the film The Black Cauldron. The film is one of the darker animated films to be released by Disney and wasn’t well received by fan and critics. In fact, the film was beat at the box office by The Care Bears Movie.
In the midst of this low, there was turnover at the top of Disney. A new corporate team is installed. This team includes CEO Michael Eisner, President and COO Frank Wells & Chairman of the Motion Picture Department Jeffrey Katzenberg. These three men would help shape the culture and develop an environment which led to a revival in animation at the company. That revival began with the classic film The Little Mermaid. It then extended on through Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King. Other films such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit and The Nightmare Before Christmas also play a key role in this revival with their groundbreaking style of filmmaking.
The documentary features numerous classic interviews from those who were integral parts in the company and films of that time. These include interviews from Eisner, Katzenberg, Roy E. Disney, Tim Burton, John Lasseter, Howard Ashman, Alan Menken, Jodi Benson, Robin Williams, Paige O’Hara among many others. The film was directed and narrated by Don Hahn. Hahn was the producer of Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. The documentary debuted at the Telluride Film Festival in Telluride, Colorado on September 6, 2009. It got a limited theatrical release on March 26, 2010. It has been received fairly well with critics earning a 71% freshness rating from Rotten Tomatoes.
Waking Sleeping Beauty is available on DVD and Amazon Instant Streaming. If you’re a fan of Disney films, especially those of the late 80s and early 90s, this is a film to check out. It’s a great documentary film that you may not have seen, but you should.