“Far from a fairytale, Waking Sleeping Beauty is an unprecedented eye-opening look at the conflict, drama and tension that ushered in the second chapter of Disney’s animation legacy, a decade of unparalleled creativity…”
The Disney magic faded for a little while during the 1980’s. There were still animated features, but they weren’t the groundbreaking triumphs of the studio’s golden age. All of that changed as we entered the 1990s. The Little Mermaid is considered the first of the new wave of Disney classics. It certainly signaled a change in the direction of animation at Disney. While the change may have begun there, I believe it was Beauty And The Beast that started a wave of productions that would peak with The Lion King. With Beauty And The Beast everything is cranked up a notch from the mediocre affairs the studio had been churning out for a time. Beauty And The Beast had the epic proportions, fluid animation, and bright colors that set the Disney Express back on track.
This documentary was created by a man who was there and witnessed these changes firsthand. The film is one of the most candid you’ll ever find. It amazes me and impresses me at the same time that Disney would be willing to release such an honest look at the inner turmoil and fighting that almost led to the destruction of the studio that invented the animation feature. The studio languished for a couple of decades, unable to reproduce the magic that had made them what they had been. Roy Disney was so disgusted he resigned from the board but brought in Michael Eisner who would build the Magic Kingdom into a more powerful studio than it had ever been.
The renaissance would lead to dominating classics like Beauty And The Beast and most importantly, the first animated film to break the $200 million and eventually $500 million mark. Of course, I’m talking about The Lion King. It’s hands down my favorite animated feature of all time. I’m talking classical animation here and not the eventual classics of Pixar, although I still might have to count it as my favorite.
The documentary shows the fighting and tension in the words of the participants. The tension created a wonderful legacy of new Disney classics, but it all fell apart after the release of The Lion King.
The film includes plenty of vintage footage and stills. There are wonderful conceptual designs for many Disney projects. You really get behind the scenes here and feel like you’ve witnessed one of the most magical but tragic times in the studio’s history.
With Pixar now firmly a part of the studio, the legacy appears intact once again, for now. What does that mean for Disney’s future? “It means no worries.“