The Queens of Animation – Nathalia Holt

Published by: Little, Brown and Company
Pages: 379
Date released: 22/10/2019
Date read: 08/08/2020

In The Queens of Animation, bestselling author Nathalia Holt recounts the dramatic stories of an incredibly influential group of women who have slipped under the radar for decades but have touched all our lives. These women infiltrated the all-male domain of Disney Studios and used early technologies to create the rich artwork and iconic storylines that would reach millions of viewers across generations. Over the decades – while battling sexism, domestic abuse, and workplace harassment – these women also fought to influence the way female characters are depicted to young audiences.

Based on extensive interviews and exclusive access to archival and personal documents, The Queens of Animation tells the story of their vital contribution to Disney’s golden age and their continued impact on animated filmmaking, culminating in the record-shattering Frozen, Disney’s first female-directed full-length feature film.

I fell completely and utterly in love with this book. Considering I studied film at University and pride myself in being an all-round movie and Disney enthusiast, I didn’t know to the extent that the women of Disney were ignored.

Their talent and passion is so admirable and I wish I could shake each and every one of their hands. I love that women are still trailblazing at Disney and Pixar – although it was a shock that we had to wait until 2013 to see a full-length film directed by a woman, and that was in partnership with a man – and hopefully will continue to do so for many years to come.

 “In the shadow of their artistry, millions of childhoods have been shaped, with an untold number yet to come”. These women were a huge part of my childhood, even if I didn’t know it back then. It’s amazing considering these women were often given the jobs of painting the cells that would ultimately become the film. To me, that’s the most important job. If you don’t have the drawings completed, then you have no film. And yet, they were often pushed into the background, with their male colleagues often taking the praise. I don’t blame the men in this situation. Granted, some of them could have been a but nicer, but this was a different generation, and it’s impossible to put today’s feelings on a time period 50-100 years ago. Still, it’s important that we don’t make the same mistakes now.

Since reading this, I have revisited Disney’s back catalogue, realising – quite worryingly – that there were a number I hadn’t seen. Films like Snow White, Pinocchio, Dumbo and Bambi had somehow slipped through the net. But now when I watch them, I will have a newfound love and appreciation for the female artists behind them.

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