Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Hand Behind the Mouse : An Intimate Biography of Ub Iwerks Hardcover – Box set, May 2, 2001
From timeless classics to new favorites, find children's books for every age and stage. See more
Customers who bought this item also bought
Browse award-winning titles. See more
Top customer reviews
You'd think a man with a name like Ub Iwerks would have no difficulty being remembered, but his invaluable contribution to the Disney studio is buried in dusty archives. His cartoons as an independent now occupy the bottom of the discount video bin at Wal-Mart. Animation historians who do mention him portray him as a humorless glorified garage mechanic more interested in tinkering than the art of animation. Except, that is, for John Kenworthy.
Thanks to Kenworthy (with the aid of Leslie Iwerks, Ub's granddaughter) for the first time we get a much clearer, fairer picture of the man who is an unquestioned film-making genius. Without Ub Iwerks, we discover, not only would there have been no Mickey Mouse, there might have been no Disney studio. Walt, only a fair animator himself, needed Iwerks' incredible animation talents during the studio's formative years. (Iwerks animated the first Mickey Mouse cartoon, PLANE CRAZY, by himself in two weeks--a rate of 700 animation drawings per day!) Without Ub, Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews could not have cavorted with animated penguins, Donald Duck could not have ogled a sexy Latin senorita, and Tippi Hedren could not have been attacked by a flock of manic birds. (Didn't know he'd worked for Hitchcock as well as Disney, did you?) Iwerks' patented "travelling matte" process made those things possible.
So why is Disney lauded while Iwerks is nearly forgotten? Two reasons, according to Kenworthy. First, the fundamental nature of the two men. Walt was a ruthless self-promoter with an innate sense of what the public wanted--Iwerks, a painfully shy, modest loner who found solace in esoteric pursuits. Second, their approach to film-making. Disney sought to attain the illusion of reality through the personalities of his characters, while Iwerks chose to do so through technical advances. Therefore, everyone remembers Goofy, Donald Duck et. al. while Iwerks' independent creations, Willie Whopper and Flip the Frog, are footnotes in animation history.
These differences drove a wedge between the two men, causing Iwerks to split from Disney and form his own studio, which he struggled to maintain for ten very frustrating years. He failed, but not from lack of effort or imagination. He was a true "renaissance man", mastering everything from animation to sailing to archery and even bowling, moving on to the next challenge after conquering the one before. Animation was just one of those challenges, Kenworthy says, and far from the last. He would continue to find new areas to conquer to the end of his life, earning two Academy Awards for his technical work along the way. (Most of his greatest achievments were for his old friend Disney, to whom he returned in 1940).
If the book has one flaw, it is that it tends to fast-forward through some parts of Iwerks' life, but that is not Kenworthy's fault. Iwerks rarely discussed his traumatic early life (and personal problems) with members of his own family, let alone anyone else. But with this book, we nonetheless know far more about the man than other books bothered to tell us. And it's about time.
Most recent customer reviews
It's not a 'big' book, and doesn't have many pictures - but it's the text that counts - and you can see the 'missing'...Read more