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Toon Talk: Walt: The Man Behind the Myth DVD
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by Kirby C. Holt (archives)
November 25, 2002
Kirby reviews the recent DVD release of Walt: The Man Behind the Myth.

Toon Talk
Disney Film & Video Reviews by Kirby C. Holt

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Walt: The Man Behind the Myth DVD
One Man’s Dream

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Purchase Walt: The Man Behind the Myth on DVD

Originally airing over a year ago on ABC-TV, and available on VHS for some time now, the lovingly-crafted and beautifully-realized documentary Walt: The Man Behind the Myth has finally made its DVD debut. And it was definitely worth the wait.

For not only does the feature itself scrape away the Pixie Dust that has enveloped its subject for many years, but the disc has also dispensed with the typical trappings of a Disney DVD: no cheesy ‘sneak peeks’, no endless commercials, no filler; when you pop it into your player, you are presented with a respectful and classy production, with tastefully-done menus and the extra supplemental footage we Walt fans were hoping for with this release.

Executive produced by Walter Elias Disney Miller, Walt’s grandson, and owing a lot to his mother, Walt’s eldest daughter Diane Disney Miller, Walt was produced in part to dispel a lot of the mystery, legend and misconceptions of Walt Disney, the creative genius who virtually invented family entertainment as we know it today. Using recorded interviews with Walt, archival photographs and film footage and, seen here for the first time by the general public, Disney family home movies filmed by Walt himself, the film presents an intimate, fascinating and often thought-provoking look into the life of a man we all thought we knew very well.

Viewing the film without commercial breaks helps ease the flow of the facts; it doesn’t feel so rushed, skipping over the years. Its ‘talking head’ interviews, now so common in the age of A&E’s Biography, are presented in a ‘cameo’-style look that enhances the intimacy of the speakers’ stories and recollections. And the fact that some of these interviews were the last ever filmed by such Disney greats as Marc Davis, Buddy Baker and Ward Kimball only enriches their words and deepens the feelings expressed.

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As with any such endeavor, there are bound to be omissions, such as not mentioning Walt’s first Oscar (for the creation of Mickey Mouse) or the curious absence of such notable Disney stars as Julie Andrews, Annette Funicello, Hayley Mills and Kurt Russell (not to mention Donald Duck and Goofy). But then again, the film does remain focused on Walt, and one is able to discern a clearer picture of him, so often shrouded in enigma, warts and all.

From loving husband and father at home, to stern task-master and inspirational leader at work, to the beloved creator of Mickey Mouse and Disneyland, Walt was many different things to many different people. Walt: The Man Behind the Myth is that rare piece of entertainment that opens its eyes and heart to the viewer, allowing them inside to experience for themselves the life of one of America’s greatest men of the past century.

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