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Walt in Wonderland: The Silent Films of Walt Disney Paperback – March 10, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press (March 10, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801864291
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801864292
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 9 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,049,549 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

There are plenty of coffee-table books on the films of Walt Disney, one, it seems, for virtually each Disney feature. This tome's different, though. It's a serious look at the silent films Disney made in the 1920s before he revolutionized the industry with the first sound cartoon, Steamboat Willie. Its first section affords an incisive critical overview, showing how these early, often pedestrian "apprentice" films--which reflected Disney's midwestern values and showed the influence of live-action comedies--laid the groundwork for later animation techniques and conventions. Many characteristics of these cartoons resurfaced in Disney's later work--particularly the personality-based comedy that was as integral to the popularity of Mickey Mouse as initially was the gimmick of sound. The book's lengthier second section, based on studio records, promotional materials, and interviews with survivors, is a detailed history of this period of Disneyana. An important and valuable contribution to film scholarship. Gordon Flagg --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"A scholarly and entertaining book that is a combination of film critique, studio history, and oral history illustrated with wonderful original animation drawings, storyboards, and rare photos." -- John Canemaker, New York Times Book Review



"Merritt and Kaufman have delved deep into the business of the art as well as into the art itself... They show us genius emerging by trial and error, not in a puff of Aladdin's lamp." -- Simon Louvish, Sight and Sound



"Merritt and Kaufman's enthusiasm is infectious and they point out much that is new and important about the early work." -- Robin Allan, Animation Journal



"Scholarship has rarely been so engaging and charming as in Merritt and Kaufman's detailed study of the silent film animation of Walt Disney. The work is, simply, wonderful." -- Choice



"The whole fascinating 8-year period predating Mickey is chronicled in [this] meticulously researched book... The authors point out interesting links to the work of other animators (of such characters as Felix the Cat and Krazy Kat) and also demonstrate parallels to the routines of such silent clowns as Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, and Charlie Chaplin." -- Linda Rosencrantz, Miami Herald


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 4, 2005
Format: Paperback
Long before Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and Bambi there was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. "Walt In Wonderland" chronicles Disney's years as a director and producer of silent films.

More than 90 silent cartoons were made by Disney and his associates during the 1920's. With some 170 illustrations and a scholarly, well researched text, "Walt In Wonderland" is a superb addition to filmdom's archives and a boon for early film buffs.

In this volume that we learn how many of Disney's ongoing themes made their first appearances in these cartoons, and also find out more about the remarkably talented people that Disney brought together and nurtured.

- Gail Cooke
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Calvert on February 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
If you are interested in silent cartoon films or Walt Disney, then you must buy this book! Russell Merritt and J.B. Kaufman have done an incredible job of documenting this little-known part of Disney's career. This book is also packed with storyboards, pencil sketches, scripts, and production photos from these cartoons. There is a very detailed filmography of all of Disney's cartoons from 1921 through 1929.
The first chapter is an analysis of these cartoons -- what was better than the competition (Felix the Cat), or not as good. They explain how the animated characters evolved from just moving figures into "character animation." Next, the historic detail from each period is described in a chapter each on the LAUGH-O-GRAMS, the Alice cartoons, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, and the beginnings of Mickey Mouse. The authors go into great detail on the working methods of the animators, and Disney's business and distribution problems. Believe it or not, Mickey Mouse might never have happened if producer Charles Mintz had not pulled Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and most of Disney's animators away from him in a needless "power play". Highly recommended for silent film enthusiasts.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By George H. Taylor Jr. on November 22, 2009
Format: Paperback
Walt in Wonderland: The Silent Films of Walt Disney

Walt in Wonderland: The Silent Films of Walt Disney by Russel Merritt and J.B. Kaufman. 1994, 176 pages (paperback released in 2000).

Lafflets.

Tommy Tucker's Tooth.

Martha.

Alice.

Oswald.

Before Mickey Mouse, these were the characters and films that represented the Disney name. You might be familiar with some of them and a few of them are only known through production notes, stills and roughed-out sketches. Merritt and Kaufman's book is a historical, critical and very satisfying look at the silent films of Walt Disney. It might sound fairly flat to read an entire book on silent films, but it is engaging and very well-written. Not only will you gain insight into the creativity and themes that developed in the first films, but you will come away with a better understanding of the Company and early animation.

Russell Merritt, PhD., is currently an Adjunct Professor of Film Studies at UC Berkley. In addition to his writings on the silent films and Silly Symphonies of the Disney Company, he is considered an authority on D.W. Griffith. J. B. Kaufman is an independent film historian who has published extensively on Disney animation.

This title examines all of the known silent films produced by Walt Disney. Starting with the earliest work in Kansas City (1921) to the beginnings of Mickey Mouse (1928). This is the quintessential look at Walt's silent films and should be in every researcher's library. The authors have created a singular treatise on the evolution of Disney animated films from silence to sound.
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By A. Gass on August 16, 2013
Format: Paperback
Lots of detail on each short. I wish I could get my hands on the silly symphony book he wrote. Saw it at a Paris used book store earlier this year but I wasted my money on a used eurodisney book by mistake.
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By Josh on April 27, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
THIS BOOK HAS GREAT PHOTOS OF DISNEYS EARLY ANIMATION SHORTS. NOT MANY BOOKS COVER THE TOPIC OF DISNEYS SILENT FILM ERA IN AS GREAT OF DETAIL AS THIS BOOK DOSE
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