The much anticipated biography of Walt Disney premieres tonight on PBS. “Walt Disney” is a historical documentary from American Experience, TV’s longest-running, most-watched history series. The story of Walt Disney’s life has become a part of the fabric of American culture, which makes it a perfect subject for the show.
Mark Samels, executive produces of American Experience, knew making a documentary that did the life of Walt Disney justice would require unprecedented access to Disney archives.
“The challenge is, Disney is both a person and a brand,” Samels said, “And for 50 years, the Disney corporation has really been controlling of his image.”
However, thanks to PBS’s trustworthy reputation, the door was opened to the archives and the Walt Disney Company stayed out of any editorial input or oversight. I’m really looking forward to see some of the rare archival footage that goes behind the scenes on development of some of Disney’s best-loved films.
I’ve read a number of excellent biographies about Walt Disney and some that have questionable takes on the man. Looking at the list of resources used to make this documentary, I see some from both lists. I’m cautiously optimistic that the movie will be both accurate and respectful, but I’m also on guard.
Like other historical figures, Walt was a man of his time. If you do watch tonight, it’s important to keep that in mind. For all his creative genius, he was human.
I look forward to hearing your opinion on the show. Please come back and leave your comments here after watching.