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"The Archive Series: Story" features a stunning selection of art from Disney's Animation Research Library

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"The Archive Series: Story" features a stunning selection of art from Disney's Animation Research Library

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In response to last week's review of Jeff Kurtti's newest book , "Walt Disney's Imagineering Legends and the Genesis of the Disney Theme Park," I got the following e-mail:

Not everyone who reads JimHillMedia is interested in the Disney theme parks. Some of us come to your site because we want to learn about Disney & Pixar's animated films. So how about a Christmas gift suggestion for all us animation fans?"

Hmmn ... Well, there were umpteen million Highlander films. So I guess that there'd be no harm in saying "There can be only one ... II"

Because if you're a Disney animation fan and/or you've got one of these folks on your holiday shopping list ... There is a book out there right now that will really make this Christmas a special one. And that's "Walt Disney Animation Studios -- The Archive Series: Story" (Disney Editions, December 2008).


Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved

Of course, if you do buy someone a copy of this hefty hardcover, you should probably add a sponge to their holiday package. That way ... Well, this animation fan will then have a way to deal with all the damage that they'll cause as they unintentionally drool over the 224 pages of drawings found in this book.

Seriously, folks. I'm not kidding. The selection of art from Disney's Animation Research Library that you'll find inside of "The Archive Series: Story" is really that good. This book goes all the way to Disney's very beginnings. Showing you -- typos & all -- Walt's original story outline for "Steamboat Willie " ...


Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved

... as well as elaborate pencil sketches that then map out complex story-driven camera moves for "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."


Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved

What's truly striking about all this artwork is -- for the first time ever -- you're given a real understanding of how these often-simple-looking sketches then drove both the look & the mood of the finished motion picture.


Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved

At the same time, "The Archives Series: Story" allows you to take a look at story ideas that Walt Disney Animation Studios took a look at and ultimately abandoned. Like this concept for "Cinderella," which had Cinderella's dress actually begin to disintegrate at the very first stroke of midnight. In this version of that film's story, that's why Cinderella fled the palace. To avoid having the prince see her turn back into that poor girl who cleans up in the kitchen.


Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved

This profusely illustrated volume also allows you to take a look at animated sequences that Walt tried to put into development and eventually gave up on. Like that cartoon version of "The Little Mermaid" Disney tried to produce back in the late 1930s (This animated sequence was supposed to have been part of an ambitious film biography of Hans Christian Andersen that Samuel Goldwyn wanted to co-produce with Walt. This project ultimately fell apart because Goldwyn & Disney couldn't agree on a script. So Walt went off and produced a film that combined live action & animation all on his own, 1946's "Song of the South.")


Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved

Speaking of "Song of the South," "The Archive Series: Story" feature Bill Peet's colorful story sketches for that film's Laughing Place sequence. You'll also find Joe Ranft's wonderful boards from the "What's This?" sequence in Tim Burton's "The Nightmare Before Christmas." Not to mention the Brizzi Brothers' brilliant work on "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" 's "Hellfire" sequence and "Fantasia 2000 " 's "Firebird Suite." Or Chris Sanders' exceptional storyboards for "Mulan" and "Lilo & Stitch."

Fully 61 Disney animated films, featurettes and shorts are represented in 'Walt Disney Animation Studios -- The Archive Series: Story." Everything from Glen Keane's career-making work in "The Fox and the Hound" 's bear attack sequence ...


Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved

... to the inspired silliness of that 1956 Humphrey the Bear short, "In the Bag."


Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved

So if you really want to impress the animation fan on your holiday shopping list, I'd get them a copy of "The Archive Series: Story." Just remember to include that sponge, okay?


Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved

On the other hand, if you live the LA and the animation fan that you're shopping for this year just loves collecting the signatures of his favorite filmmakers ... Well, you may want to swing by the Barnes & Noble at the Americana at Brand tomorrow evening. When veteran Disney producer Don Hahn will be signing copies of his latest book, "The Alchemy of Animation: Making an Animated Film in the Modern Age" starting at 7 p.m.

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If you'd like to show your appreciation for all the great stories that you regularly read here on this website, then why not start out your next Amazon shopping spree by clicking on the banner above? That way, JHM gets a teeny tiny chunk of whatever you spend.

Happy Holidays!

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  • Hard to believe that before the 90's the ARL (Animation Research Library) was known as the Morgue. A rather ironic name for a room fill with so much life.

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