For a film that focuses on two of Disney’s legendary “Nine Old Men”, it’s not rather prominent in the Disney film catalog. I was quite surprised to find this on a donate shelf on tape and snagged it for myself, only to find out now that I should keep this due to the scarcity of the film.
Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston discuss their careers at the Walt Disney Studios through interviews, archival footage, and scenes from their home.
Before I was a film major, I had heard of these men since I was young, thanks to the featurettes on some Disney videos from the 90’s. In high school, me and another guy were set on being animation majors in college, the only two in our class in fact. Both of us were really the only ones who had heard of them until we went our separate ways after graduation. In college, the scope of my peers who had heard of Frank and Ollie grew (as it should). Even though I’m a film major, that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy their work.
In retrospect, I wish I had heard of this film and watched it last year when my editing class was given the task of making an eight minute video of a former animator. While my group’s video wasn’t as great as some of the others, I wish we could have seen this and use it as a guide for editing the interview.
It is informative, that much is certain. You can see the life and the spark that was in them at the time the interviews were filmed that was there when they worked at the beginning. We get a glimpse of their lives from the days before Snow White and Bambi all the way up to The Rescuers. They act scenes out, just like animators have done and still do in order to translate the emotion to paper. There are moments where the film takes a break and I wonder where it’s going. It eventually returns to the current topic but the diversions are brief.
I ended up with the 2000 VHS print but there’s a 2003 DVD print that should still be available. If you are an animation buff/historian, this is a nice addition to your library. Even if you’re not, it’s still a nice piece to watch.