Volumes have been written about the life and work of Walt Disney, but little attention has been given to his formidable skills as a futurist. Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow is an informative and attractively produced new documentary that focuses on Disney’s commitment to innovation, his groundbreaking successes in movie houses and theme parks, and how his endeavours ultimately informed arenas as diverse as transportation and urban planning.
The film is a love letter to Disney, though it’s not in any way directly endorsed by or affiliated with his corporation. It acts quickly in dispelling many of the negative accounts and rumours which have grown around his legend over the years, including his reported overbearing nature and his perception of women and minorities in the workplace. Featured are commentaries with an assembly of distinguished researchers, and several artists who worked closely with Disney throughout his meteoric career. They all attest to his charm, approachability, leadership abilities, inclusiveness, creativity and foresight.
From his creation of Mickey Mouse to his full embrace of sound technologies with the release of Steamboat Willie to his emergence as a theme park pioneer, we learn the path Disney took to capture the imagination of billions. He encountered countless challenges, setbacks and cynics along the way, but such is the case when you make it your mission to explore uncharted territories.
Disney was motivated at times by a strong sense of social responsibility. With EPCOT, he set out to celebrate the technologies of tomorrow, and create an environment where families could share in a comforting experience of enchantment. The dream project, which was initiated in the drawing board phase during his life but not completed until after his death, was born out of his response to rapidly deteriorating city life in communities across the United States.
The totality of Disney’s legacy is enormous. He was a titan of the entertainment industry and an icon of unparalleled stature the world over. An ambitious birth to death portrait, Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow does an admirable job of bringing to light the high-points of his career, and many lesser-known anecdotes and adventures along the way.
Directed by: Christian Moran