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The Animated Man: A Life of Walt Disney 1st Edition

58 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0520256194
ISBN-10: 0520256190
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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"This book is important not just as a biography, but also as a cultural history that provides great insight to one of the best-known creative minds of the twentieth century. Barrier's engaging and highly informative writing style offers excellent perspective on how much changed in the world of animated cartoons during Disney's lifetime, and just how much the Disney studio brought about these changes. The remarkable quantity of first-person accounts, interviews, and other primary evidence is one of the book's most important attributes. This biography chronicles Disney's life while keeping in view the technological and stylistic developments in animation and filmmaking that Disney helped bring about. Barrier's deft navigation of a wide variety of historical streams gives Animated Man a uniquely comprehensive and compelling story about Walt Disney."—Daniel Goldmark, author of Tunes for 'Toons: Music and the Hollywood Cartoon

"Michael Barrier's biography of Walt Disney is impressive, with a remarkable range of interviews. I was fascinated to see this mysterious world laid out as an industrial process—somehow, this makes what we see on the screen even more miraculous."—Kevin Brownlow, Director, Cecil B De Mille: American Epic and Garbo

"The Animated Man is by far the best critical study to date of Walt Disney and his worlds: corporate, personal, ideological, architectural. Michael Barrier's years of discussion with Disney's collaborators and family members make for a richly textured discussion of a figure often dismissed by the scholarly community as a vulgarian of the worst sort. Barrier shows us a tireless innovator, a man of deep feeling, a true American original who has woven himself into the very fabric of modern culture."—Karal Ann Marling, editor, Designing Disney's Theme Parks: The Architecture of Reassurance

About the Author

Michael Barrier founded and edited Funnyworld, the first serious magazine devoted to animation and the comics. He is the author of Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in Its Golden Age (1999).

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 1 edition (April 7, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520256190
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520256194
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #318,789 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

86 of 87 people found the following review helpful By Steve Stuart on May 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
If you were thinking of passing by The Animated Man in favor of Neal Gabler's biography of Walt Disney, think again. "...Complete access to the Disney archives..." notwithstanding, Gabler couldn't in many, many cases, figure out just what exactly to do with all the information he was supposedly buried in for five+ years. And as such, the reader comes away at times with more questions than answers about just who Walt Disney was.

This is not the case in Michael Barrier's fine biography of Walt Disney, The Animated Man: A Life of Walt Disney. Although he may not have had the unfettered access to the Disney archives accorded Neal Gabler, one would hardly be aware of that particular handicap. He was able to utilize a great deal of information housed there, which along with interview after interview makes for a mighty informative read. And since many of the interviews utilized throughout the book date back over 30 years, Barrier was able to talk with many Disney employees who "were there" at or near the start of Walt Disney's impact on the world.

So many of the interviews captured by Barrier provide an insight into what made Walt Disney `tick' that simply don't exist from the materials Gabler was able to unearth. More than once while reading through The Animated Man did I stop to re-read a paragraph as a particular tidbit of information provided an "a-ha" moment, helping to fill in some blanks pertaining to either Walt Disney himself or the legacy he left behind.

Also, Michael Barrier was able to weave his knowledge of animation throughout the text, providing additional insights not available to authors with less refined skills in that area.
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By KarlG on July 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I'm in full agreement with other reviewers that this is one of if not the best Biography of Walt Disney ever written. The recent Neil Gabler biography has received more publicity (and it not bad) and is the most obvious book to compare to, I found Michael Barrier's "The Animated Man" much better in terms of the insight into the life of Walt Disney. I read Barrier's biography about 2 months after Gable's and found Mr. Gabler delved way to much into speculation where Barrier seemed to give insight into Walt.

I don't often write a review, but I thought this book was worth giving the positive review.

Mr. Barrier tells the life of Walt Disney, warts and all. Walt comes off a real person with real problems while doing great things. I have over 100 books on Walt Disney and the things he helped to create including many books and articles by those that new Walt first hand, and Barrier's book seems to give the most accurate and unbiased view of Walt of any biography I have ever read. It seems to give an accurate picture of Walt behind the scenes.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Anispor on May 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is an extraordinarily good book. After giving up on the Neal Gabler book (too many words and not enough understanding, really, of who the man was), I love the approach of this book. Barrier knows animation inside and out, and he uses his knowledge to give us a picture of a real man and boss who tried to make animation great. The nitty gritty of those details make a real life comprehensible. The immense research is felt even though Barrier doesn't try to impress us with it; the book is a captivating read that propels you along. Highly recommended.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Rowley on January 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Walt Disney is, in my view, about the most interesting a figure to work in film in the twentieth century, for all sorts of reasons. Nobody did as much for their particular corner of the film medium as Disney did for animation: proper character animation, as we now think of it, was basically a Disney invention, created during the studio's great creative period between the late twenties and the early forties. Disney took animation from a primitive form to its maturity; it seems likely that cartoons would have remained a very peripheral novelty had there not been Disney's vision of something grander on the horizon. Yet Disney is also fascinating because of the way in which he lost interest and branched off from cartoons, leading to an incredible variation in the quality of the works prepared by the studio within his lifetime (Disney deservedly went from being a seriously regarded artist in the thirties to something of a critical pariah by the sixties). His devotion to amusement parks and other non-film corners of his business also foreshadowed the economic models that would define Hollywood in the last quarter of the century, with films increasingly becoming just one element in a wider suite of cultural products sold to audiences (so, for example, we don't just get sold Spiderman the movie; we are sold Spiderman computer games, comic books, clothing, CDs, theme park rides, and the like). As a person, too, Disney is fascinating for his mix of visionary artistic ambition and staunch conservatism. So he's a particularly rewarding subject for a biography.

Michael Barrier's The Animated Man: A Life of Walt Disney is one of two recent biographies released on Disney, the other being Neal Gabler's Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination.
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