I watched the first episode of Walt Disney from American Experience on PBS last night and did a bit of live-tweeting throughout. Overall, I was impressed with the documentary and even learned a tidbit or two I had not previously known. But there did seem to be an over reliance on two of Walt’s biographers, both of which have been criticized for missing some key elements of the man we know as Walt. I would rather have seen a bit more from the people who worked with Walt, even if they had to use archival footage to show it.
I will agree there is no way to give a comprehensive treatment of Walt Disney’s life in just four hours, so the producers of this documentary skipped a lot of his early life to get to the first big success Walt had at his Disney Bros. Studios after his move to Los Angeles.
The first episode ended with Walt Disney’s first major labor struggle and the animators strike at the Walt Disney Studios. The second episode will cover the rest of Walt’s life and his pivot away from his sole focus on animation.
As you might expect a show called “American Experience” wants to show how Walt’s life impacted American culture. They’re doing a good job so far.
If you missed the show last night, you can now watch it online. If you saw the show and want to learn more about Walt’s life from birth through his animated feature projects, I recommend Michael Barrier’s book “The Animated Man: A Life of Walt Disney.” It was one of the sources used in the films production and the best researched by far.
Part two airs tonight at 9/10c on PBS.
If you watched last night, what did you think?