Title: Walt Disney Film: The Animated Archives, 1921-1968
Author: David Kothenschulte, editor
Publisher: Taschen America
This October 2016 book is so impressive that it feels like it should come with an armed guard. (It does come in a thick custom-made cardboard carton with a handle.) It’s 620 huge 18.8” x 12.8” full-color pages, 2½” thick and weighing 15 pounds. All high-school to university libraries with any interest in Walt Disney’s art and animated movies should have at least one copy as a Reference book, for in-library use only.
“Walt Disney Film: The Animated Archives” covers the films of Walt Disney from their beginning in 1921 to the last one that Disney worked on personally before his death in 1966. This is the first volume of a series; future volumes will cover the Disney Studios’ output after his death. It has been produced with the cooperation of Disney Enterprises, Inc. and with full access to the studio archives for rare illustrations. Kothenschulte has smoothly edited more than thirty chapters by such well-known Disney scholars as Russell Merritt, Didier Ghez, J. B. Kaufman, Charles Solomon, and Leonard Maltin that examine Disney’s animated films from their beginning to Disney’s death. These emphasize the features such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Bambi, Lady and the Tramp, and The Jungle Book, but also include many famous theatrical shorts such as The Three Little Pigs and Der Fuehrer’s Face. There is also an emphasis on Disney’s theatrical releases, but his TV output like the Davy Crockett series of the 1950s is included, too. Many Disney animators and artists are quoted at length, both in interviews and, in the case of deceased artists, from their old interviews and personal papers.
The book has hundreds of rare illustrations, on almost every page, starting with a full-page frontispiece watercolor painting of Gepetto, the Blue Fairy, and the unanimated Pinocchio puppet by Swedish-American artist Gustav Tenggren, and including full-color art by Mary Blair, Eyvind Earle, and more. There are many character sketches, cel setups, old publicity photos, layout drawings, theatrical posters, etc.. including photographs of notable artists like Salvador Dali while they were at the Disney Studio in Burbank.
There are a few lacks and obvious errors. There is no chapter on Disney’s 1943 Victory Through Air Power, although it is mentioned in the text. The studio’s providing over 1,000 military unit insignias during Worlld War II is mentioned, but none are shown. A note on page 283 says, “The mythologizing of Davy Crockett’s character began way before his death in 1786.” Crockett was born in 1786; he died in 1836 at the Alamo. This book is not a “tell-all exposé”; subjects like the notorious Disney strike of 1941 are not mentioned. But for anything about Disney’s and his artists’ artistic creativity, this is a superb book; an essential purchase.
The list price of “Walt Disney Film: The Animated Archives, 1921-1968” is $200.00, but there are online discounts of 50% and more.
For views of interior pages, visit the Taschen site: https://www.taschen.com/pages/en/catalogue/film/all/01150/facts.the_walt_disney_film_archives_the_animated_movies_19211968.htm
For a Youtube video look at the book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eR7M46V5khU