Film Recalls ‘Magic’ of Disney Animation

From Associated Press

The publicity photo for Dan Lund’s documentary shows a mouse squashed by an executive’s wingtip shoe. Lund and some other former Walt Disney Co. animators say they know how the mouse feels.

Lund has made a 40-minute documentary about the closing of Disney’s 75-year-old hand-drawn animation department and will show it in Minneapolis on Thursday -- one day before Disney holds its annual shareholders meeting there.

Lund interviewed other animators for the movie, called “Dream On Silly Dreamer,” which is partially animated.

“It’s not just an attack on management,” said Lund, who worked as a special effects animator at Disney for 15 years and is a graduate of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

Lund said he made the movie as “a valentine to how lucky we were to live in a fantasy world like that.”


It was nice while it lasted. In the 1990s, hits such as “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Little Mermaid” and “The Lion King” made big money for Disney and brought animators bonuses of up to $100,000.

But while the animators labored on expensive flops such as “Atlantis: The Lost Empire” and “Treasure Planet,” Disney’s partner, Pixar Animation Studios, and its rivals, DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. and 20th Century Fox, raced ahead with computer-animated features, including “Toy Story,” “Shrek,” and “Ice Age.” Disney eliminated the hand-animation department in March 2002 so it could focus on computer-generated animation.

Disney spokesman Paul Roeder said the company had no comment on Lund’s documentary.

Roy E. Disney, nephew of founder Walt Disney and a former board member, has been a vocal critic of the company’s recent direction and praised Lund’s film.

“I have to say how very human a face it puts on an institutional tragedy ... the slow, cruel and insidious death of Disney animation over the past several years,” he said in an article posted on his website. “It should be seen by everyone who still believes in the magic of Disney.”

Lund said he hoped Disney shareholders see his nostalgic look at the end of Disney’s in-house hand-drawn animation and then go to the meeting “with a sense of loss” and tell management “maybe that division means more than just a financial thing.”