Waking Sleeping Beauty Review | CDRogowski

Waking Sleeping Beauty review

This movie review is a little out of place, and we will return to the regularly scheduled Fincher movie examinations tomorrow, but I had the opportunity to watch a documentary which has long interested me but I never got the chance to see:  Waking Sleeping Beauty.

As you could probably guess from the title, this documentary is about the Walt Disney Animation Studios, but it has nothing to to with Sleeping Beauty, in fact, it covers the struggles of the animators and the animation division of Disney from the time that animated features were nearly cancelled (around the release of The Black Cauldron). Although I am typically reviewing films and looking at the elements used to tell the story visually, I am a huge fan of documentaries and I was very excited that I finally got to see Waking Sleeping Beauty.

Waking Sleeping Beauty movie image

To start, I absolutely enjoyed this movie. The storytelling is very clear and the introductions to characters are kept very brief, but clear. It is shocking to me how well documented a lot of this process was! Sure, this is taking place in the late 80’s and early 90’s so consumer video recording was not a foreign concept, but it seem that every major event in the office (not just things seen by the press) was caught on film or had a short clip of a Disney animator’s thoughts on the situation. I am blown away by the amount of video and audio that was dug up to tell this story and it feels very fleshed out with little to no “take our word for it” storytelling.

Waking Sleeping Beauty disney animators

The other thing that struck me while watching WSB is actually putting a coherent timeline to the Disney animated dynasty because I (like many fans of Disney) was born during the Disney “renaissance” and all the films seem to kind of blend together collectively as “childhood”. For instance, I had no idea that Who Framed Roger Rabbit came before Beauty and the Beast, to me it was all just a big mishmash of Disney, but seeing how the films all fit together from the eyes of the company and animators is really cool.


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