LOS ANGELES. — On October 16 1923, brothers Walt and Roy set up a modest cartoon studio.
Their goal was to produce short animated films. They created a new character: a mouse, with large ears.
Named “Mickey”, he soon became one of the world’s most recognisable images.
Walt Disney was an innovator in terms of space, colour and movement. He had an uncanny ability to provide pleasure for millions of viewers struggling through the Great Depression.
A century later, Disney is one of the world’s largest entertainment conglomerates.
Disney has influenced countless other animation studios and artists.
It has received Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature for the likes of The Incredibles, Up and Frozen.
Walt himself holds the record for most nominations (59) and Oscar wins (22 competitive awards, plus four honorary awards) for a single individual.
Just how did Disney manage to do it?
Based in Los Angeles, Disney set about innovating.
He created The Alice Comedies, a series of short films featuring a live-action child actress in a cartoon world.
Then came Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, a precursor to Mickey Mouse.
Steamboat Willie, released in 1928, was the world’s first fully synchronised sound cartoon.
His pioneering use of sound quickly became an industry norm.
A simple story featuring Mickey as a steamboat captain trying to navigate the boat while dealing with various comical situations, Steamboat Willie was universally praised.
After a short theatrical run in New York, the film was exhibited nationwide and set Disney on its way.
The clip of Mickey holding the ship’s wheel and whistling became the company’s logo in 2007, reminding audiences of Steamboat’s enduring importance.
New characters emerged post-Steamboat, such as Donald Duck and Mickey’s love interest, Minnie, which still endure today.
Flowers and Trees, made in 1932, was the first animated short film to win an Academy Award — it was also Disney’s (and the industry’s) first full-colour three-strip Technicolour film.
What followed Snow White is often referred to as Disney’s “golden age”, with the release of Pinocchio (1940), Dumbo (1941) and Bambi (1942).
Those early films still dazzle today — think of the Sorcerers’ Apprentice scene in Fantasia (1940) or the Pink Elephants hallucinogenic number in Dumbo.
After Disneyland came Disney World in Florida in 1971, then versions of Disneyland in Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai. — theconverdsation.com