The Reviewing Network’s Favorite Movies #33: Waking Sleeping Beauty

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Waking Sleeping Beauty is a 2009 American documentary film directed by Disney film producer Don Hahn and produced by Hahn and former Disney executive Peter Schneider. The film documents the history of Walt Disney Feature Animation from 1984 to 1994, covering the rise of a period referred to as the Disney Renaissance.

Unusually for a documentary film, Waking Sleeping Beauty uses no new on-camera interviews, instead relying primarily on archival interviews, press kit footage, in-progress and completed footage from the films being covered, and personal film/videos shot (often against company policy) by the employees of the animation studio.

Waking Sleeping Beauty debuted at the 2009 Telluride Film Festival, and played at film festivals across the country before its limited theatrical release on March 26, 2010 by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Waking Sleeping Beauty is a documentary film looking at the period between 1984 and 1994 as the Disney animation staff goes from flop after flop to making some of the greatest animated films of their legacy including The Little Mermaid, Beauty & The Beast, and Aladdin and the bumpy roads that they’ve had to come across in that period. Disney animator Don Hahn directs, produces, and narrated the documentary with many of the Disney personnel working at the time including Michael Eisner, Peter Schneider, Roy E. Disney, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and many more.

Waking Sleeping Beauty is my personal pick for the best documentary film I saw from last year, even though I love Exit Through The Gift Shop. I guess, maybe it’s because I grew up on Disney films as has 99.9% of the people in the world. In fact, my all-time favorite movie, believe it or not, is Bambi. I’m going to do a blog about why I consider Bambi my all-time favorite movie, when the Blu-Ray comes out in a couple of weeks.

I think the real reason why I love this more than any other documentary I’ve seen this year is because, this is a really incredible story on how one of the institutes of American society almost went away forever and then has this amazing comeback. Hahn does a really good job complying all these old home movies and archive clips from the 1980s and 1990s plus drawings of events that happened and also providing really great narration during the film.

It’s a shame that I got to see this movie as late as I did because this would have easily made my top 10 list for 2010. It’s a really underrated documentary film and definitely deserves a watch. I don’t know if this is available on Netflix but it’s available in stores. Check it out, it’s definitely a good documentary.

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