Wednesday 16 October 2013

90 Years, An Infinite Legacy: Disney Turns 90 Today

90 years ago today, on 16th October, 1923, Walt and Roy Disney founded the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio. From that day onwards, the landscape of animation changed forever. Alice Comedies, Mickey Mouse, Snow White, all the way through to Toy Story, Tangled and modern greats like that; join us in a look back at the unparalleled legacy of The Walt Disney Company.

The Disney studio completely revolutionised American animation, helping introduce synchronised sound and Technicolor into the medium, and successfully making the jump from short format animation to feature length films. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs - while not actually the first ever feature length animated film - was the first animated feature from America, and the first traditionally animated one. Its rousing success (it was at one point the highest grossing sound film of all time; it was also given a standing ovation on its premiere by a room full of Hollywood A-listers, including Charlie Chaplin) inspired many more feature animations (Fleischer Studios, the guys behind Popeye and Betty Boop, released an animated Guillver's Travels film in 1939), to the extent that we now have a huge range of hugely different animated films released every year.

Walt Disney was known for wanting to escape from the stigma that animation was for kids - and certainly his first five feature films did that in abundance; while that sentiment is sadly not widely permeating today, Snow White's influence is all-encompassing. How many other films released in 1937 are still watched as much as Snow White is today?

Then we have decades of Disney animated classics, great films like One Hundred and One Dalmatians and The Lion King; around the time of the Disney Renaissance, Don Bluth's animation house set up business too. Thereafter, Pixar stormed onto the scene and revolutionised things again, with the CG boom; then we've got the creation of innumerable animation houses, like DreamWorks, Sony Pictures Animation, Blue Sky, etc. All because of Disney.

The long and the short of it is that we're only here right now, talking about animation, because of the inexorable company that started 90 years ago today. And for that I am immensely grateful; Disney has been such a huge factor of my life so far, and will undoubtedly remain one in the years to come.

With Walt Disney Animation Studios' 53rd animated film, Frozen, out this winter, here's to another 90 years. Happy 90th anniversary, Disney.

And to play us out, here's one of the Disney studio's first major landmarks, the first appearance of Mickey Mouse, 1928's Steamboat Willie. And let us know, what's your favourite Disney film? And why?

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