The Rise of the American Film: A Critical History

By Lewis Jacobs | Go to book overview

XXIV
WALT DISNEY: VIRTUOSO

OF all the directors in motion pictures today, Walt Disney is perhaps the most renowned and acclaimed. Undaunted by Hollywood superstitions, undeterred by money needs, Disney has brought to American films a personal touch, a zeal for quality, an appreciation of artistry, and a disdain that is almost a fear of the "formula" picture. That his convictions have been matched by a distinct talent has been aptly and fortunately proved.

Disney has made his animated cartoon perhaps the finest expression of motion picture art in contemporary America: this despite the fact that so far only one of the hundreds of Disney cartoons has been of considerable length. His pieces have brought unanimous praise from artists, intellectuals, children, workers, and everyday people the world over, being singled out even above superior dramatic films. As a humorist in The Saturday Evening Post1 put it, "Americanism: Spending millions of dollars to make spectacular movies; sticking through them to see Mickey Mouse."

In the realm of films that combine sight, sound, and color Disney is still unsurpassed. The wise heir of forty years of film tradition, he consummates the cinematic contributions of Melies, Porter, Griffith, and the Europeans. He has done more with the film medium since it added sound and color than any other director, creating a form that is of great and vital consequence not only for what it is but for what it portends. He is the first of the sight-sound-color film virtuosos, and the fact that he is still young and still developing makes him an exciting and important figure to watch.

____________________
1
May 21, 1938.

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