Saturday, March 24, 2012

"Walt's Dead - You Missed It"

Those were the words of Ward Kimball, spoken in 1980 to a small theater full of Cal Arts students.  He might as well have been preaching atheism in a cathedral.  Students were not only hurt, but outraged that this "nine old man", this apostle of Walt, could deny their dreams of Walt's Second Coming.  They were, after all, the new generation being groomed to restore and continue the Walt Disney legacy.

Thirty two years later, that generation is still dreaming.  In the Fantasy Disney Studio in their minds, Glen Keane, Andreas Deja, and seven other guys become the new nine old men, and John Lasseter becomes Walt, bringing back old school animation for good,  and the artists move back into the old animation building, with the old desks, and marry ink and paint girls, and have lunch at Alphonse's and martinis at the Pago Pago.  Sigh.

When Glen Keane announced last week that he was leaving the studio, a chorus of shrieks rang out.  How could he do that?   The blablogs were on fire with comments on his announcement - barking up opinions as if Glen actually owed them an explanation for what was, in fact, a personal decision.

I don't know Glen, personally.  But I know he's done the best character animation of his generation and has nothing to prove.  He gave thirty six years to a studio that, during his tenure, grew, as if on steroids, into a pumped-up, corporate soulcrusher.  They'll go on making animated films (or not), but its homey, midwestern roots are gone, save for some very nice people working there, dreaming, dreaming, of the Fantasy Disney Studio in their minds.

"Walt's dead. You missed it."