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Walt Disney's Nine Old Men and the Art of Animation Hardcover – November 1, 2001

4.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

During the 1930s, Walt Disney dubbed the most prolific animators at his studio "The Nine Old Men." This book is the story of each, their individual styles, the animated characters they created, their inspirations, and their dealings with their boss and each other. A chapter is devoted to each man, and in the end we view their collective impact upon the Disney studio. Lavishly produced, this oversized book is filled with rare and important reproductions of animation cells and candid pictures of the men and their associates, all printed on heavily coated paper to bring out the full luster and detail. Canemaker, an internationally recognized animator and animation historian as well as the director of the film animation program at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, is the author of several other significant books on animation. His book will be of considerable interest to anyone concerned with the creative forces that shaped some of the most recognizable characters and sequences from Walt Disney Productions' most famous animated films. Highly recommended for any library. David M. Lisa, Wayne P.L., NJ
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Grade Level: Preschool and up
  • Hardcover: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Disney Editions; 1st edition (October 22, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786864966
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786864966
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1.2 x 12.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,320,297 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
John Canemaker has given readers the Disney animation book that's been missing for decades. Only it's the Readers Digest version. Canemaker is forced to compact nine amazing biographies into one book. Each of his nine subjects - the core group of gifted animators who defined the look and feel of Disney animation from the 1930's through the 1970's - is deserving of far more time and space than a single volume can deliver. Nevertheless, he's done an amazing job, and he introduces us to these men with the same careful critical objectivity he did in "Before the Animation Begins", Canemaker's marvelous 1996 book focusing on the great Disney visual development and story artists.
The author gives us the best un-fairy-dusted glimpse of the real day-to-day workings of Disney's shop since animator Jack Kinney's 1988 "Walt Disney And Assorted Other Characters" (admittedly limited in objectivity, but still enormously entertaining in its candor.) It's impossible not to feel the same admiration and passion as the author. Even in his harsher analysis of temperaments and turmoil the author is writing about the best of times among a group of very real artistic heroes who were such extraordinary people that you'd have treasured any time you could have spent in their company. Sadly, Canemaker only gets to brush on topics such as how the old generation influenced the new. Many of the current generation of Disney artists are interviewed for this book and they have a great deal of insight to contribute (both Andreas Dejas and John Lasseter in particular)and one wishes that the author had been afforded the luxury of a more critical analysis of the older generation's influence on this generation -- both by their presence and their absence; e.g.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
So much has been written and said about several of these nine legendary Disney animators that I very much doubted a lot of new ground was going to be broken, especially in a Hyperion release, but Canemaker rises to the task here, and then some. I was most interested in artists like Les Clark and Johnny Lounsbery, who have received less attention than some of the others. Canemaker not only brings them vividly to life with meticulous research, but he also manages to bring new information and fresh insight to all nine of his fascinating subjects. No matter how well you thought you knew the Nine Old Men and their work, there's plenty here for you. This book reveals the lives and personalities of these men, analyzes their contributions extraordinarily well, and also their working and personal relationships with each other, and presents great new visual material from their lives in and away from the studio. The Kimball stuff is a special treat.
Who could have imagined that Marc Davis' early life was as interesting as his work? Or that Kimball and Kahl were even crazier than you thought (and even more brilliant)? Ot that the master, Frank Thomas, actually struggled with his draftsmanship? Canemaker captures the promise of each of these men's pre-Disney careers and the spark in the work that caught Walt's attention is always evident. He also captures the human quirks that played a tremendous role in the golden age of the studio and often found its way onto the screen as well.
Much of this information and all of Canemaker's excellent insight would not have come to light without his diligent effort and research, and the result is a well-written, revealing, tasteful, and very visual masterpiece.
PS We lost the great, one-and-only Ward Kimball recently...only Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas are still with us now. God bless you both.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Each chapter in this book is a mini biography on each of the nine old men, Walt Disney's personal favorite animators. The nine old men were: Les Clark, Eric Larson, Marc Davis, Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, Milt Kahl, John Lounsbery, Wolfgang Reitherman, and Ward Kimball. Each of these men had a unique style and approach to animation. All of them were with Disney from the 1930's until their retirements (or deaths) in the 1970's. Each chapter talks about their early lives and families, how they came to Disney's, how they developed their style, their relationships with Walt and other animators, other accomplishments, and what they did after retirements.

There are a couple problems with the "Nine Old Men" myth. It has ignored other animators that also made significant contributions to Disney animation and in some cases more so. People like Norm Ferguson, Bill Tytla, Art Babbitt, Fred Moore, Ham Luske, David Hand, Ben Sharpsteen (just to name a few) are really the ones that laid the foundations for what Disney animation became. They dominated the studio all throughout the 1930's. True the nine old men came into the studio at that time, but most of them didn't come into their own until the production of Bambi. The former either moved into directing positions or left the studio. That's not to say that the nine old men don't deserve the celebration that they've received over the years. This was just a title that Walt gave to the directing animators in the early 1950s. However, soon after most of them started moving out of animation and into other arenas such as directing (in the case of Reitherman, Kimball, Larson (on and off), Lounsbery (in later years) and Clark) or Imagineering (Davis). Only Kahl, Thomas, Johnston remained consistent with animating their entire careers.
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