Story: A two-part, nearly four hour documentary that follows the life of Walt Disney from his childhood, to his early days as a struggling animator, and eventually to the head of his own company that he ran with an iron-fist. It’s not always an easy ride. His company struggles early on and even when it succeeds, Disney wants to do more. To the end of his days, he was trying new things. He created the first feature length animated film, he created his own theme park, and he did so much more. We see his achievements and his failures. We see what’s great about good him and what’s horrible. We see the legend and we see the man.
Thoughts: It’s not fair for me to review this. I missed the beginning of both parts of this documentary. (I have just figured out that I can watch the whole thing for free on PBS’s website, but if I wanted to get a review up today, I didn’t have time to watch it. Will watch it later, though.) I have, however, seen most of the documentary. So I’m going to give a review a shot.
My fear going into any Walt Disney doc would be that the makers of the film wouldn’t show an accurate portrayal. That they would glorify him to the level of sainthood. That they wouldn’t show all his flaws. American Experience lives up to its great reputation and delivers a documentary that gives us a complete 360 degree look at the legend behind some of the greatest characters, films, and parks of all time. He was a wonderful, wonderful man who wanted to better the world in which he was living. He was also a controlling, sometimes angry, pain in the ass. That the documentary doesn’t shy away from his negative qualities is a testament to how good it is. The documentary doesn’t give a complete overview of all the films made during Walt Disney’s life, but it does what all great biographies should. It shows us the external and internal life of a human being in all its complexity. One of the best documentaries I’ve seen in a while.