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The Mouse Machine: Disney and Technology Paperback – June 9, 2008
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"Telotte really shines! His passion for analyzing Disney artifacts animates each page. Descriptions are vivid and detailed; analyses are rigorous and insightful, while his engagement with case studies is exemplary. The Mouse Machine is an engaging and intelligent book for those interested in cultural studies, popular culture, media studies, film studies, mass communication, technology and society, American studies, and related fields."--Eileen R. Meehan, author of "Why TV Is Not Our Fault: Television Programming, Viewers, and Who's Really in Control"
"The volume is easily approachable for those not familiar with its conceptual sources, while at the same time providing increasing layers of depth to those who are. . . . Highly recommended."--"Choice"
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Topics covered include Disney's innovations in sound cartoons, using three-strip Technicolor film, creating depth in an animated image, television, widescreen technology, theme park development, Audio-Animatronics figures, digital animation and effects filmmaking.
Author Telotte goes into surprising depth; a full 13 pages are devoted to the technologically pioneering 1945 film The Three Caballeros, which merged animated sequences with live action. About Donald Duck's wooing of a pretty girl, the book notes "it marks a point, quickly noted by reviewers of the era, at which Disney animation becomes overtly sexualized, by depicting the animated duck as a possible suitor for a real, live woman, demonstrating what a reviewer in Time described as `an alarmingly incongruous case of hot pants' that probably discomfited some viewers expecting the usual Disney family experience."
Unfortunately, this interesting material is presented in an unappealing way. The book's pages look dry as dust, with blocks of text unbroken by subheads or tables or diagrams. Long paragraphs are made of long sentences, which are written in an impersonal style. There are no photos or illustrations of any kind.
But if you can slog through, you find gems. I recommend this book, with a strong cup of coffee.
Here's the chapter list:
Introduction: Main Street, Machines, and the Mouse
1.Read more ›
Obviously, several high points in the Company's history take precedence: sound, color, multi-plane and special effects are all covered in great detail. The book takes a while to get going and I was tempted to put it away several times. I am glad that I continued. After the first several chapters, you get used to the academic style and start to enjoy and think about the concepts. Telotte's intent was to create a work that showed how the technological leaps were not only to heighten the art form, but also acted as a link to technology and popular culture.
"The aim of this book is to follow the company's lead in this regard, to offer a selective look at some of those, often-unseen--or unconsidered-- technological supports or developments that, in film, television, and the theme parks, have been crucial to the success of the Walt Disney Company and, at times, also a clue to its limitations." --pp. 2-3.
Ub Iwerks and Walt garner special focus, but Telotte also looks at the other pioneers in the various film departments. A lot of time is spent in looking at the development of the animated shorts--how they changed the industry technologically and artistically.Read more ›