​The Birthday of a Legend: Walt Disney

5 December 2015

Born on 05 December 1901, Walt Disney would have turned 114 today. He was born in Chicago and grew up on a farm with his family of Irish-German-Canadian origin in Missouri. But instead of living the typical farm life, it was already clear pretty early that Walt was a talented artist. He founded his first company, Laugh-O-Grams, but it got bankrupt. He ended up in Hollywood with only twenty dollars left, and an incredible success story began which makes Walt Disney a prototype of an American Dream pursuer. A talented pioneer in camera and drawing techniques, Walt’s projects all became very popular.[1] This included the clip you can see below, called Steamboat Willie which was published in 1928 and was the first appearances of a personality which would turn out crucial on Walt’s path: Micky Mouse.


18 November 1928: Steamboat Willie,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlM60Nwc6CE
From then on, Walt’s project became a business, and later on a huge empire and he kept publishing one epic film after another. Bambi, Pinocchio, Fantasia, later on Pocahontas, The Lion King, and many, many more. In 1955, Disneyland Park opened and in 1954 Disney started television production, as well as the first colour movies in 1961.
For many people, including me, Disney movies were an important part of their childhood. Disney movies are not only extremely entertaining, but very special in various senses. The content is not only about exciting, cute and funny stories, but it shows the spectator the importance of issues such as friendship, cooperation, and it teaches the lesson that if you are a good person, you will always win against the evil. It inspires people to think critically as it also includes aspects such as feminism and tolerance.
Pocahontas was a female hero, fighting the evil and uniting the white European settlers and the native Indian population, sending the message of peace and love regardless of background and race. Andrew Adamson, a movie director says about Walt Disney that “he said about himself that he does not make movies for children, but that he makes movies for the child inside of everyone of us.”[2]



Pocahontas (1995), Colours of the Wind, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTCuQ5FzhYg
I have to say, that before doing my research for this article, I was very critical regarding Disney movies such as Cinderella or Snow White as I am a convinced feminist. It made me angry, that in all these stories, the female main character still relied on her prince charming in order to be saved. But this quote of Walt Disney made me look at it from a different perspective: “Cinderella believed in dreams, ok, but she also knew that she had to do something for them. When her prince did not save her, she went to the palace and grabbed him.”[3]
I could go on for ages on why I love Disney movies, including the music, but I do not think that I have to convince you about anything. The real question though, which has to be addressed here is: Which Disney movie is your favourite, and why? (Go to: https://www.facebook.com/ESHCCembrace/?fref=ts and vote!)
With these thoughts: Happy birthday, Walt! And thank you so much!


[1] Waltdisney.com (2015): Walt Disney: A short biography, retrieved from http://www.justdisney.com/walt_disney/biography/w_bio_short.html [Last accessed 26 November 2015]

[2] Geboren.am (2015): Walt Disney, retrieved from http://geboren.am/person/walt-disney [Last accessed 26 November 2015]
[3] Geboren.am (2015): Walt Disney, retrieved from http://geboren.am/person/walt-disney [Last accessed 26 November 2015]

by Cindy Wilhelm

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