HOW DISNEY KILLED AN OWL AND BUILT AT THIS CAREER
Walt Disney was obsessed with death. So, at least, his biographers often say, linking the numerous – and tragic – deaths of animals in Disney films to a traumatic episode from the childhood of Disney himself. In the late 1900s, when Walt was either seven or eight years old, he killed an owl. Suffering in the wilderness of Missouri from the loneliness and beatings of his father, Walt dreamed of a pet, and the dream almost came true when one day in the dark thickets of the garden he discovered a half-sleeping owl and dragged her home. Crazy from daylight, the bird suddenly attacked Walt, and he, either frightened or angry, trampled the owl to death. The event was a turning point in Walt’s life: “It seems that after that owl, tenderness for animals arose in me.” Tenderness, which was subsequently monetized.
Most American cartoons of the beginning of the 20th century were rude and aimed more at an adult audience – even Mickey Mouse at first looked like a rather aggressive and sarcastic mouse. It was Disney – to the dismay of his financial partners – who decided to add sentimentality and tragedy to the animation. So death or the threat of death became the engine of the plot in most of his early cartoons, and then turned into a mandatory climax, against which the happy ending looked even more spectacular. Bambi’s mother, Netsy’s street dog from Lady and the Tramp, curious oysters from Alice in Wonderland, and even the dumb dinosaur from Fantasy were dying – to the indignation of parents who were afraid of excessive realism, and the grief of children who adored anthropomorphic animals and provided Disney multimillion incomes even during the Great Depression. The focus on children’s sensitivity has worked and has become mandatory for all The Walt Disney Studios products, including wildlife documentaries. For example, the director of the film “White Wasteland” (1958) about the polar fauna of Canada for three years was not able to shoot a rather dramatic death scene, so he himself staged the mass suicide of lemmings, who were brought to the shooting and specially thrown from the mountain.
HOW DISNE Fought WITH GERMANY AND MAKED THIS MONEY
Walt Disney and the one he painted on the First World Red Cross Machine, 1919 Walt Disney and the one he painted on the First World Red Cross Machine, 1919 Photo: The Walt Disney Archives Photo Library
Walt Disney managed to make money on both world wars. On World War I, 16-year-old Walt, unable to endure his cruel father anymore, fled in 1918, forging a date in his birth certificate, and ended up in a medical unit in France. Together with his colleague, he brought German helmets from the front line and sold them as souvenirs to American soldiers returning to their homeland. Helmets of German snipers, punched by bullets, went best of all, but they seldom came across, and then Disney’s artistic talent showed up. Together with an accomplice, they collected ordinary German helmets, applied a special camouflage pattern on them, which was only on sniper helmets, made a hole like a bullet, and covered them with blood for more persuasiveness. It seems that World War I left pleasant memories for Disney: when during World War II one of his employees announced that he was going to fight in Europe, Disney said that he wanted to go instead of him.
Walt Disney (center) shows the military a gas mask sketch in the shape of Mickey Mouse, 1942 Walt Disney (center) shows the military a gas mask sketch in the shape of Mickey Mouse, 1942 Photo: AP
However, and remaining in the United States, he again was able to make good money. Moreover, some researchers believe that the war saved the studio, which was on the verge of bankruptcy due to the inadequate spending of its founder on cartoons that did not pay off at the box office. After the United States entered the war in 1941, the American government needed propaganda and educational films to raise patriotic spirit and mobilize the population. Their main supplier was the Disney studio. During the war, cartoons were shot at the studio on the order of all state and military institutions – from the Navy to the Ministry of Finance, and the US Air Force even named a new aerial bomb with a rocket accelerator in honor of the movie “Victory through Power in the Air” (1943) ” Disney bomb. ” But Donald Duck proved himself to be the best on the ideological front. In “The Spirit of the 43rd” he explained to the Americans how important it is to save money in order to pay taxes that will support the war for democracy in a timely manner, destroyed the whole Japanese airfield in the Duck Commandos, and worked 48 hours a day on the Nazi in the Führer’s face shell factory. At the end of the cartoon, Donald woke up from a nightmare and announced that he was most proud of his American origin – for which, apparently, he received an Oscar in 1943.