I will always dearly love Disney. Sure, it’s the Land of Happy Endings and Songs About Halfway Through, but as a child the magic and wonder of those early films (and the sheer genius of technology and artistry as a teenager and adult) cannot be denied to any of its detractors. Walt Disney basically wrote the book on animated features, to be either emulated, parodied or opposed by others — insofar as it could be. Creativity, as we all know, cannot exist in a vacuum — but to a great deal it did before Disney came along. Things like the Multiplane Camera:
It was conceived by Ub Iwerks, the man who REALLY created Mickey Mouse — but this is another tale for another time (I know I keep saying that, but I’ll be getting around to this stuff as I can).
For all its innovation, even Disney can make missteps along the way — but the likes of you and I would never know of it. Entire features would be developed and scrapped, and noone outside their insulated world would be the wiser. Disney after all, is the aforementioned LHE & SAHT, and cannot ever fail (that is, release product that isn’t immediately successful and/or made for home video) — but here is a look into that world when something doesn’t go exactly right.
The Sweatbox is a documentary by Trudie Styler, the spouse of one Gordon Sumner — AKA Sting — who was commissioned by Disney to write the soundtrack for a film they at first titled Kingdom of the Sun. This film was eventually altered, entering what the project heads called “story hell” before it eventually became the film most of us now know as The Emperor’s New Groove.
What’s so great about the film (which has yet to be officially “released”, but exists on the internet) is not just that Disney’s innards have been exposed, but that it chronicles how a Disney animated film is conceived and eventually created. It also details Sting’s work on a project that seemingly evolved as he began to be involved, at one point leaving him with a great deal of work left unused.
So, for fans of Disney, of animation, of studio politics in general, here is the documentary in entirety, thanks to Vimeo: