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Above! Where they belong: Disney, Pixar and the new golden age of animation

The nomination of the Disney / Pixar film “UP” in the Best Picture category at the 2010 Academy Awards returns Disney to its rightful position as the undisputed king of animated film, a throne it has held for most of the years. last 100 years. Arguments about what constitutes an animated film aside (some claim this designation for the co-nominee Avatar of Up), this is only the second time that an animated film has been nominated for the award (the first was another film. from Disney: Beauty and the Beast, from 1991, which somewhat ironically lost to The Silence of the Lambs, which, one could argue, resembled Beauty and the Beast in more ways than one).

Although popular opinion has Avatar as the favorite to win Best Picture, the mere fact of Up’s nomination is a vindication of Disney’s 2006 purchase of the company and a testament to the courage and commitment of the president and director. Pixar executive Steve Jobs and creative genius John. Lassetter, now creative director of Pixar and also Disney Animation Studios.

Disney’s wisdom in not only recognizing Pixar’s financial worth, but also the artistic worth of its creative team, brings the company back almost to square one to the early days of animation, when founder Walt Disney quickly realized Realizing that he could not achieve his creative and commercial ambitions on his own, he set about employing the best artists and writers available.

His first major collaboration was with his friend and former co-worker Ub Iwerks, with whom Disney had worked at the Pesmen-Rubin Commercial Art Studio in Kansas City. Although Iwerks was not the only animator Disney worked with, he was the most influential in the early films, especially in his development of the now iconic Mickey Mouse from a previous Disney character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, rights he had lost in one. contractual dispute. Using the new character of Iwerks, Disney took the risky step of investing in the new film sound technology, introduced the previous year in The Jazz Singer.

Although 1928’s Steamboat Willie, starring Mickey Mouse in his third appearance, is often cited as the first cartoon with synchronized sound, it was in fact preceded in 1926 by Max and Dave Fleischer’s My Old Kentucky Home, and in 1928 by Dinner Time. , created by Paul Terry, later founder of Terrytoons. Neither of these predecessors were successful at the box office, but Steamboat Willie was a sensation. With him, Disney went big and embarked on a hugely productive phase in which several Mickey Mouse cartoons (including his first two, Plane Crazy and The Gallopin ‘Gaucho, remade with sound) were released each year, alongside with a number of other titles featuring a growing group of popular characters.

Disney had combined technical superiority with artistic excellence and business acumen, and this combination of attributes earned him and his company a place at the forefront of the animation industry, a position he consolidated four years later when he signed. with Technicolor a two-year contract for its exclusive. using your new cartoon color processing technique.

In the late 1930s, Walt Disney had an ambition to develop animation even further. He made the risky, but ultimately profitable leap to animated feature films with the popular and successful Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1938, a film that began several decades of box office dominance for Disney, with such iconic films as Bambi (1942). ). , Song of the South (1946) and Cinderella (1950) joining modern classics such as The Little Mermaid of 1989 and Beauty and the Beast (1991), in the pantheon of great films, animated and not.

It is not surprising then that the Disney Company recognized the potential of the innovative new medium of computer animation when Pixar made its first feature film Toy Story in 1995. Disney and Pixar entered into a distribution partnership for Toy Story and subsequent Pixar production. which, though not without occasional contract disputes and personality clashes, eventually led to Disney’s purchase of a majority stake in Pixar. True to the history of these two leaders in motion picture animation, the quality of Pixar’s work has steadily progressed, and with the appointment of John Lassiter (also a Disney animator) as creative director for both companies, there is no reason to doubt. that this will continue. It can only be a matter of time until a Disney / Pixar movie receives the recognition and respect that this often underrated art form has deserved since the early days of animation.

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