Dream On Silly Dreamer
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(Feb 14, 2006)
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On March 25, 2002, more than 200 Disney artists working at the studios legendary Feature Animation department in Burbank, California, were told that their services were no longer needed by the company. It took only one uncomfortable gathering with then president of Feature Animation Thomas Schumacher, now dubbed "The Tom Meeting," to kill 75 years of a beloved animated tradition. A similar series of events soon played out at Disneys other animation studios in Paris, Tokyo and Orlando, Florida. Doors were closed for good and in total nearly 1,300 skilled artists and craftsmen were fired. The company best known for its handcrafted animated features no longer wanted artists to draw for them.
"DREAM ON SILLY DREAMER" is the new animated documentary from director Dan Lund and producer Tony West that tells this tale. Featuring interviews recorded soon after the now infamous "Tom Meeting," viewers will learn the reasons offered by the company and feel the emotional responses from those affected. A handful of artists tell their side of the story and share their recollections of the "good old days" at Disney.
Told as a modern-day fairy tale, "DREAMER" pays homage to the classic Winnie the Pooh shorts. An artists sketch book becomes the viewers window into this documentary realm with original, animated vignettes helping to tell a side of the story that the world never has heard. This film will touch anyone who has ever dreamed, believed in fairy tales or wished upon a star.
From the Contributor
SPECIAL FEATURES INCLUDE Super Sized Sequences Dan's Original Pitch Artwork
Still Art Gallery Early Animation Tests News Scrapbook Pages Poster Concept Art
Original Score Radio Interviews
Department Goodbyes Premieres & Festivals Slide Show
Bonus Hidden Features
And Much, Much More!
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Top Customer Reviews
The world loves classic Disney animation. This great American art form speaks to the child within each of us. And behind each classic Disney film are the artists who created them. This is their poignant story.
Everyone who loves animated films must see this film, which documents the destruction of the Disney animation studio and its legacy which spans seven decades.
I'll admit it - I am far from a casual viewer. I am a passionate student of the classic Disney style of animation. I am in awe of the technique required for real, full-blown animation. But as much as I respect the technique, I am moved by the investment of the artists' hearts in the medium. It is the power of drawings that come to life, and animation's ability to move us, that I find so compelling.
With that preface, let me tell you about "DREAM ON, SILLY DREAMER."
It is a WONDERFUL film. Everything I hoped it would be... and even more.
It contains a wellspring of sentiment. It captures the passion of the animation artists for their art form and its heritage, and their sense of community.
The film strikes a remarkably delicate balance. We witness the shock, disbelief, and numbness of the artists on leaving Disney. Yet, the film doesn't wallow in sadness, self-pity or anger. The focus of the film is the genuine respect the artists have for classic style Disney studio animation, and their elation at having been part of it... their simple joy at moving a pencil over a piece of paper - and ultimately creating magic.
From the opening title card (a visual parody of the old Buena Vista logo), there are clever graphic references to Disney. The opening and page-flipping of the animator's sketchbook recalls many an animated feature opening; this time around it tells of a fairy tale without a "happily ever after" ending. Particularly striking is the animation of a dark storm cloud overtaking the Animation Building, marked by a scream! (It vaguely reminds me of Ward Kimball's quirky 60s work.) Animation depicting this transition was the perfect use of the medium. It made me laugh - and yet, the dark reality was still apparent.
In the DVD extras, I was particularly moved by the Florida animators reminiscing about their first animation scenes, while saying goodbye. The scene of director Dan Lund writing a check to purchase his animation desk was particularly gutwrenching. The grief on his face was obvious. The studio selling discharged artists their own animation desks seems analogous to sticking a knife in someone, pulling it out, then charging them to have it for a souvenir. While I'm glad artists had a chance to save their desks, and rescue their own piece of animation history, I found the transaction painful to watch. We can hardly imagine what it was like for the artists themselves.
Also, I found myself profoundly affected by Dan Lund's emotional on-stage commentary at the film's premiere. Like his film, he bravely acknowledges the emotions of the moment without being overcome by them.
Artists are governed by their hearts. Every once in a while, in spite of the callous indifference of the "real world," they experience something special as a reward for their talent: transcendental moments of magic.
In "Dream On, Silly Dreamer" we experience the same kind of movie magic Walt Disney himself created, from animators once employed by his studio. You will enjoy clever animation, and experience great storytelling about people living life with passion, experiencing traumatic setbacks and surviving. You will laugh, and, inevitably, you will feel a familiar tug at your heartstrings.
It's a wonderful film, and will be a treasured part of your DVD library.
This very short documentary (the film itself sans bonus features runs just under 40 mins) attempts to capture the feelings and emotions of Disney's odd move to close down it's 2D feature animation unit, thus ending a historic part of the studio. Let's face it, it IS the studio. The entire empire that Disney has become was because of 2D animation. It all started with the historic release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, a daring and bold ARTISTIC endeavor that made Walt Disney a global phenomenon. It ends with failed BUSINESS endeavors, an uneven mix of art and commerce that resulted in Atlantis, Treasure Planet and Home On The Range - utterly forgettable films from a company that we expect more from. But blaming the medium seems a funny scapegoat. 'Dream On...' the documentary, in it own rambling way, passionately attempts to explain just what happend on the way to the end. Utilizing extensive interviews with Disney artists, both past and present (most notably Andreas Deja), the film talks about the final days leading up to the layoffs of thousands of artists. While the interviews are extremely personal and emotional they seem to only scratch the surface. There is still anger and resentment, as would be expected. It seems the artists are too close to the situation, the wounds still too fresh, to put a more philosophical spin on what happened and how they reacted. That is both a strength and a weakness of the film. While the emotion feels fresh and raw, some of the more juicy details are left out. In its immediacy, we lose some of the perspective. The film forgets that, most of us at leat, were not there to watch this unfold. For employees of Disney affected by these events I am sure it means so much more. But for a general audince it can be, at times, like looking thourgh photos of people we don't know, parties we weren't invited to. With the exception of Deja and a few oldtimers from the days of Walt, eloquence is not the strong point of the interviews. Watch the Super Sized bonus features for more in depth talk about the process and what went wrong. There are some interesting descriptions of story meetings that seem to verify what Disney fans have always suspected was the moutning problems of the Disney features. While I wish there was more - more details about what went wrong on specific pictures, who was to blame for what details, etc - it is a captivating slice of the reality of Disney animation nonetheless. Seeing these artists speaking so genuinely about the company is extremely interesting. The fact that this film exists, that Disney let it be is in intself a miracle. The execs, in general, don't come off all that well. But name calling and finger pointing are kept to a surprising minimum. Katzenberg even comes off rather well.
In the end, this film is about innocence lost. These kinds of things happen at companies everyday around the world. But because it is Disney, because so many of us have bought into the pixie dust and magic, including these artists, the decision, the failure, the closure seem that much more tragic and personal. Witnessing that in this DVD makes up for its sloppiness. While I think there was a potential to make this an even more amazing and important film as well as a historical document, it is worth viewing all the same. With a little more focus and direction this could have been an incredible time capsule of a very specific, very dark time in Disney's history. As it stands, it's genuine and heartfelt but under polished. Still, as avid fans of Disney animation know, we will always take what we can get.
As a side note - Very little of Pixar is mentioned. The pending merger is not even addressed at all. While it remains to be seen what Lassetter and Co. will do with Disney animation, the future as of this filming was not optimistic. Only time will tell. Perhaps Pixar will re-open 2D animation at Disney and bring back some of these great talents. Wouldn't a happy sequel to this film be just as amazing?
If you follow Disney news at all, the documentary does not reveal anything that you probably do not already know. What the documentary does do, however, is put faces and personal stories to the facts.
My only complaint was that it was a little short. It would have been nice to see what the animator's "post Disney" plans were.