Cover image of the review
[Detail] *Disney: The Magic of Animation*, ACMI, Melbourne. Photo: Phoebe Powell.

Disney: The Magic of Animation

17 Jul 2021
13 May - 17 Oct 2021

Melbourne is littered with bright yellow flags. They bear the recently updated ACMI logo in bold red and a selection of pre-CGI Disney sketches. The warm, happy hues of the flags with the homely faces of millennial childhoods billow in the cool Melbourne winter wind, advertising ACMI’s would-be triumphant return with a two-year and $40 million redevelopment, as well as a winter masterpieces exhibition—Disney: The Magic of Animation.

The Disney exhibit promises to show visitors how drawings are brought to life, “from pencil and paper to today’s computer-generated wonders”. To animate is to give life and from Pinocchio (1940) through to the enchanted household objects of Beauty and the Beast (1991), Disney has obsessively ruminated on the theme of animating the inanimate. Like Disney’s inclusion of the hand of the animator in Saludos Amigos (1943), after Fleischer’s Out of the Inkwell series (1918—1929), the contradiction between the magical illusion of animation and the articulation of its production is a fundamental formal characteristic of early animation. But where those films embedded questions concerning the vitality of objects and environs into the very animation (fusing and confusing objects, commodities and characters/persons), Disney: The Magic of Animation sought to explain away the magic with a few choice wall texts.

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