Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Music: the Backbone of Disney, and a Fascinating Story

It's been a good year if you're someone who's fascinated by the history and lore of the Walt Disney company. Three films were released for home viewing in 2010: "The Boys: The Sherman Brothers' Story," "Waking Sleeping Beauty" and "Walt and El Grupo," two of which I have had the privilege of seeing so far. "Waking Sleeping Beauty" is next on my Netlfix que.

"The Boys," lucky for me (and anyone else with a Netflix subscription), is available instantly via Netflix's online service, a surprise I discovered and then immediately took advantage of.

"The Boys," a great documentary, made by the sons of Bob and Richard in hopes of getting their fathers back together, tells the gripping story of two of the most iconic songwriters of all time. Their works include the score for "Mary Poppins," the "it's a small world after all" theme, the "Winnie the Pooh" score, and many other songs, who sheer volume and notoriety is surprising even to someone familiar with their work.

Even more intriguing is the brothers' story itself. Robert, the older brother, served in WWII and was one of one of the first American soldiers to discvoer the Dachau concentration camp, and was wounded in the knee during his service. His temperament proved to be, as Roy E. Disney put it, the "Feed the Birds" to his younger brother, Richard's "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious." The two contrasting personalities proved to be extremely different, and that contrast helped create some of the most memorable music that has ever been written.

The pair also proved to be one of Walt's closer acquaintances, having written Walt's favorite song, "Feed the Birds," in their first film score for "Marry Poppins." "The Boys" provides a unique view of Mr. Disney, one where he his not the focal point, but seen through the eyes of two friends who worked for him.

It's both an intriguing story and a great history lesson on the Walt Disney Company and the United States. But most of all, it's a great look into two of the most fascinating, and contrasting, personalities behind some great music. Even more so because they were behind it all, their work being much more famous than themselves.

So if you've got a Netflix subscription, pull up "The Boys: The Sherman Brothers' Story," and enlighten yourself, then maybe go fly a kite, sweep a chimney, or explore the Hundred Acre Wood.

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