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4.7 out of 5 stars
Waking Sleeping Beauty
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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on July 22, 2010
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I had the great opportunity to see this at a screening in NYC followed by a Q&A with the directors. It was a great look back at a bit of Disney history many people might not be familiar with. The behind the scenes turmoil, management style, and creative process, especially during the making of such great classics as The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, make it very interesting. As an animator myself, I truly enjoyed this film. Highly recommended.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 2010
Format: DVD
I was one of the folks lucky enough to see Waking Sleeping Beauty during its limited theatrical run. I must say I was bowled over by how good it is. I was not expecting a film produced by the studio that was also its subject to be unbiased, but this film does an amazing job of giving you all sides of the story. I am kind of a Disney nut. I've read many, many books on the era this film documents, including "Disney War," and this film made that period more real to me than any of them. I felt like I was a fly on the wall during those days, and that's saying a lot. Where the filmmakers found all of the great historical footage, most of which seems like someone's home movies, is something I'm sure took a lot of doing and I often wonder about. Where did it all come from? And to hear Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg's actual voices discussing that period made it that much more real for me. That is something I've NEVER seen, or rather heard, before. This film is quite an accomplishment and something I think all companies should show to their employees. It's as much about Disney in the 80's and 90's as it is about ego, internal conflict and learning how to share the credit and spotlight. I recommend this film to everyone, whether you're a Disney animation fan or not.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2010
Format: DVD
I got to see this doc at the Toronto Film Festival. It played to a packed house and a standing ovation afterwards. The movie is not just for Disney or animation fans, it also has great insight into what it takes to turn a business around, how to reinvent a creative business or corporation. I can see it being useful for business students to see. But its not just instructional, its really entertaining and emotional as well. It's full of hilarious caricatures that the animator did to poke fun at themselves and the executives. Especially moving was the section on Howard Ashman and his enormous contribution to the animated films and his far too early death. I highly recommend it! Can't wait to see the DVD extras with my family!!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2010
Format: DVD
This picture is both charming and profound. The documentary perfectly shows how it is that a group of talented people can come together and create something wonderful and inspiring - and then how they can destroy it through ego and selfishness. The whole thing was very Shakespearean to me - and the honesty and insight with which the inside story is revealed is unheard of in Hollywood. This is not a fluff piece. I recommend this film to anyone who is interested in how Hollywood or any business involving creativity works - or doesn't work. I've seen it twice and I was moved and enlightened both times.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 31, 2010
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I went to a screening of this film in Atlanta followed by a Q&A with Peter Schneider. The film is a fantastic insight into the Disney studio and all those behind the scenes things that you wouldn't normally get the opportunity to witness. It's very well done, packed full of fun stories, and entertaining from start to finish. I can't wait to get the DVD and see all the bonus features!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 27, 2010
Format: DVD
"Waking Sleeping Beauty", is one of three Disney History DVD's released in November 2010, along with "The Boys, The Sherman Brothers' Story" and "Walt & El Grupo". All three are excellent chronicles of Disney History and worth a watch.

"Waking Sleeping Beauty" is about Disney Animation, from their low point right after Black Cauldron to their long string of hits from Roger Rabbit to the Lion King and ends with the resignation of Jeffery Katzenberg. It's pretty much the story of Katzenberg, Roy Disney, Frank Wells and Michael Eisner, principally told by Don Hahn and Peter Schneider, with extensive interviews by all the players during the 70's, 80's and 90's. As to why the documentary, as Schneider put it, "...there was no reason not to tell the truth."

It's not a documentary in the way you think of it. It's a story told of the revival of Disney Animation by the personalities that were actually there, with the artists and animators that never got the recognition they should have. They've been able to dig up an amazing amount of archival footage from that time that tells the story itself. As Hahn put it, "No talking heads," so the interviews are almost always over photos or archival footage, with a balloon at the bottom of the screen indicating who's talking. So instead of watching someone's face, you're watching something in context of what the person is saying. Very different, more entertaining.

If you're a Disney fan like me, you've seen bits and pieces of this documentary in the bonus features of the films involved (Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Lion King, etc.), but this movie isn't about a movie, but all the movies, events, personalities and politics of the Disney Animation Studio during that time.

The Bonus Features are as good as the movie itself, from tributes to Roy Disney, Frank Wells, Joe Ranft and Howard Ashman, to Hahn and Schneider's commentary, which is like watching the documentary with more information than is in the film itself.

I might go as far as to say to watch the first bonus feature (Why Wake Sleeping Beauty) before watching the movie itself, to know where Hahn and Schneider is coming from, and the basis for the movie itself. It's also darned funny. :-)

This isn't Disney Fluff or an electronic press kit. If the story is ugly, they show it ugly. But if it's something to celebrate, they make sure to make it shine. If you're a fan of Disney Animation, this is a must see.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2010
Format: DVD
This is definite a must-have for anyone even remotely interested in the Disney Studios. Don Hahn does a great job covering the slow rise and slow fall of Animation at Disney. I think he was very fortunate to get frank and honest comments from Eisner and Katzenberg. My only regret is that he didn't go far enough in time. I was at Flower Street the day Katzenberg announced his departure from Disney and they were rejoicing in Gary Trousdale's office. He didn't cover Eisner's shutdown of the hand-drawn animation department which Eisner attributed to the public no longer wanting hand-drawn animation when the box office failures like Home on the Range were due to simply just bad storytelling. Don, many of us would love to see a film on the next ten years starting that day in Trousdale's office.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 10, 2011
Format: DVD
Any Disney fan should see this documentary.
It's impressive because it manages to tell the story of what was going on without bells and whistles, or any of the fanfare that usually gets thrown along with any Disney-flashback sort of film or featurette. They didn't shy away from the realities that have been very-well hidden up until now. The fact that Don Hahn was able to do this really impressed me because I didn't think the Disney company would let him get away with it.
It's not the best thing ever made, but it's very enlightening and very humanizing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2010
Format: DVD
Waking Sleeping Beauty - Disney

I always enjoy a great documentary, especially if it is loaded with historical archival footage. The Disney Studios have been releasing impressive quantities of historic material through a wide variety of DVDs and Blu-rays, the most valuable -- I think --, being the DVD tin can collections. "Waking Sleeping Beauty," in a way, is part of this important trend. It is a fascinating and informative independently-made feature that tells the history of how the Disney Studios resurrected their animation movies and, once again, made them money-makers.

The film is meticulously put together by director Don Hahn, who takes us through a step by step process that brought back the dormant animation department. We are immediately told that "from 1984 to 1994, a perfect storm of people and circumstances changed the face of animation forever." It then takes us to the successful opening of "The Lion King" in 1994. From then on, we go all the way to 1980, when the animation department at the Disney Studios was going downhill. A new generation of animators, including Ron Clements, John Musker, Glen Keane, Joe Ranft, Tim Burton, and others, were working at the studios at the time, but little was generated. We see footage of them working and clowning around in their offices. We also see some of the old-timers, such as Don Bluth, Woolie Reitherman, Ollie Johnston, Eric Larson, and others. The studio was run at the time by Ron Miller and Roy Disney, and there was trouble on the horizon. Bluth took some of the young animators with him, to form their own company, and there were threats of take-over by other big players. It was then that Michael Eisner, from Paramount Studios, and Frank Wells, from Warner Brothers, were hired by Disney to save the day. Eisner became the Chairman and Wells the Chief Operating Officer.

The film documents in detail how Eisner and Wells changed the structure of the Disney Studios, to the point that the employees referred to them as the "Hollywood Invasion," due to the business practices that they brought with them. Eisner then brought Jeffrey Katzenberg on board to run Disney's film division. In fact, it was Katzenberg who allegedly said, "We got to wake up Sleeping Beauty." On the other hand, Peter Schneider was hired to save the animation division. With time, and after some mistakes, the team work began to pay off, with the successful releases of `The Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast," "Aladdin," culminating with "The Lion King" in 1994. Along the way, we witness how Spielberg affected the recovery process, how computer animation and Pixar began to make a name, and how songwriters Howard Ashman and Alan Menken left a huge mark with their creativity. Of course, the tension between Roy Disney, Eisner and Katzenberg, which ended with Katzenberg departing the company, is also documented.

"Waking Sleeping Beauty" is gold and a must for all film historians and Disney lovers in general. Hahn, who is one of Disney's star producers, had access to great footage and key personnel. The DVD also includes deleted scenes, a segment about Walt Disney, Studio tours, audio commentaries by Hahn and Peter Schneider, and much more. Released November 30, 2010. (USA, 2009, color, 86 min plus additional materials)

Reviewed on December 6, 2010 by Eric Gonzalez.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2012
Format: DVD
A surprisingly open, meticulous walk through the dark days of Disney's legendary animation house. Nearly two decades after Walt's death, the studio's culture was crumbling, with leadership deeply entrenched in the past and a full roster of young challengers nipping at their heels. Through a stunningly thorough collection of time-stamped home video footage and detailed interviews with every major player, (especially impressive considering how many have since passed on) we learn the private story of the studio's darkest hour and celebrate its romantic return to glory. The archival footage alone is astounding stuff, flowing beautifully as a testament to both the unique, energetic personality of the shop and dire circumstances faced by its denizens. That it captured such an important chapter in the company's - and the industry's - long, decorated history is almost too much to believe. Admirably honest, doggedly comprehensive and charmingly human, it's a real eye-opener for anyone with even a passing interest in the stories behind several of animation's watershed moments.
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