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The Disney Version: The Life, Times, Art and Commerce of Walt Disney Paperback – March 1, 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 396 pages
  • Publisher: Ivan R. Dee; 3 edition (March 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566631580
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566631587
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 4.9 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #997,826 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

The Disney Version is a model of good judgment, exemplary in balance and impeccable in tone. (Joseph Epstein Commentary)

The single most illuminating work on America and the movies. (Robert W. Butler Kansas City Star)

One of the best studies ever done on American popular culture...unfailingly, consistently intelligent, and eminently readable. (Stephen J. Whitfield Brandeis University)

The story of how Disney built an empire on corrupt popular culture...becomes a revealing part of American cultural history. (Pauline Kael)

Established the terms of interpretation and debate about Disney...Schickel's [version] remains the most analytically and aesthetically penetrating portrait. (Benjamin Schwarz Atlantic)

A classic history: the first to look behind the man's image. Enjoy a new introduction which reflects Disney's lasting influences. (Midwest Book Review)

About the Author

Richard Schickel is a film critic for Time magazine and author of many books, including D. W. Griffith and the Birth of Film; The Men Who Made the Movies; and Intimate Strangers.

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Customer Reviews

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Disney was no saint, but he wasn't the ... either.
interborough
I had begun reading this book from a University and had to return it but decided I wanted it for my collection.
KSN
And also because I want to view the spectacle I just read about.
Gwyn Henry

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By "disneychick" on January 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
Although many Disney enthusiasts feel Schickel misrepresented Walt Disney in his book, Shickel's biography is a valuable piece of scholarship nonetheless. Not only does it provide people with a good overview of Walt's life and accomplishments, but the book does not shy away from providing a critical view of the man and his work. Schickel overtly connects Walt Disney the man, Disney the corporation, the entertainment industry, and American society in order to examine how Disney (man and machine) reflect and shape American culture.
It's true, Schickel can be a bit harsh with Walt Disney--his critique isn't as balanced as, for instance, the work of Steven Watts. Placing his work in historical context might help put this in perspective. Schickel took on a serious examination of Disney at a time when Disney was either a) praised as being merely for children (many were well-intentioned fans) or b) ignored or dismissed (usually by critics of "high" art). Schickel took Disney seriously: as a man, an artist, an entrepreneur, and a corporation. And he saw Disney as a major influence and example of then-contemporary America. Treating Disney as worthy of an in-depth critique, more than a brief biography or expose, is a high compliment in its own way.
Consider this fair warning. Readers who only want a "feel-good" biography about Walt Disney should not read this book. But Schickel makes a lot of good points about Disney, ones that provide food for thought. Even if you don't agree with Schickel, and I don't always do so, most of his observations are perceptive and worth further consideration. And as a result, Richard Schickel has earned his place in the canon of Disney Studies, a field of study that treats Disney seriously.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 22, 1997
Format: Paperback
Unauthorized biographies are usually excuses to disembowel people whom the author doesn't like, but not this time. Schickel examines Walt Disney's virtues and vices, but sees them as a reflection of the virtues and vices of America. And like America, Disney is misunderstood by both his supporters and detractors.While Schickel finds fault in some of Disney's decisions and creations, he recognizes that Disney understood the American soul better than most self-styled intellectuals.

The book details the world in which Disney grew up, including cruelties usually glossed over in official Disney biographies. It examines Disney's films, theme park attractions and creations as both American myths and glimpses into Disney's worldview.

Within recent years paperback reprintings of the book have added an update chapter, "Disney Without Walt". The update reviews the financial problems and creative missteps of the Disney organization that almost resulted in an unfriendly takeover, and how Disney's spirit still affects the corporation's works. Schickel also took the opportunity to revise some judgements in the original book; it's a rare media critic that admits that he can make a mistake.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Franklin Steen on November 14, 2001
Format: Paperback
I first read this book in 1968. It was a revealing look at why Disney was able to capture the American public and the experiences he had as a child and young man that made him try to control all around him. Disneyland is cited as the ultimate example of Disney control. Since he did not understand the importance of the hotels around the park, others built them. To make up for the mistake he planned his park in central Florida for his total control, including hotels. Disney's films, particularly the nature films, are examples of his attempt to control what was around him. He sent out photographers, poorly paid but with terrific equipment, to film thousands of hours of nature in action. His editors then selected all of the segments in which the animals looked cute or human and created a "nature" film. This was the control of nature. The cartoons are the same. Disney is the character of Mickey Mouse, although he could not draw him. Anyway, there is lots more. After you read the book you will never see Disney work the same way. Still, you can enjoy it as I do, just as a better informed person. I give the book 5 stars--there is nothing better about Disney that I have seen.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Nikola Raguz on June 11, 2003
Format: Paperback
Schickel does a good research and puts facts down as they are, but he analyzes those facts from his own point of view. He thinks Disney works have manipulated masses who were of an inferior intellect and the company made fortune out of it.
While this may be true, the book could have been more balanced, with an unbiased view, mentioning many favorable things the Company created.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 3, 1997
Format: Paperback
This book rarely appears on the recommended reading lists of the countless Disney fan web pages on the Internet, but it really should. Most fans of Walt are uneasy with the notion that he was human, he had feelings and that a real person lived beneath the carefully crafted studio facade.
Indeed, the title itself is a testament to the respect that Richard Schickel shows to his subject. While throughout the book, the reader is reminded that the serious arts community never considered Walt Disney to be one of them, Schickel is careful to subtitle the book "The Life, Times, Art and Commerce of Walt Disney". That alone speaks volumes of a man we may never really know enough about.
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