“I think it’s important to have a good hard failure when you’re young.
I learned a lot out of that” (Walt Disney).
Walt Before Mickey is an indy film about the early years (and mostly failures) of Walt Disney before he became famous for his effervescent Mickey Mouse. I am surprised that the movie hasn’t been more popular, and I’m not sure why, although after researching I discovered that despite the claim that Walt Before Mickey is based on Timothy Susanin’s meticulously researched classic work by the same title, the movie is far from an accurate biography. If you think of the movie as trying to convey the spirit of Disney’s struggles without serious regard to factual accuracy, then you can sit back, relax, and feel inspired. Why? Well, just look at Walt’s record: He grew up in a humble home. His family moved several times trying to make a living. Walt even sold newspapers to supplement the family income and finally dropped out of high school at age 16, hoping to join the army. However, he was rejected for being underage, although he was eventually hired as an ambulance driver with the Red Cross. As you’ll see if you watch the movie, Walt had an extremely difficult go of it as a starving artist for a decade after World War 1 (although I’ve read that he was never really quite as destitute as the movie depicts), and Mickey Mouse was a last, last-ditch attempt to keep from bankruptcy. Even though his cheerful mouse did keep him from going under, Walt was far from finished with living life on the edge. During the great depression, Walt determined to produce the world’s first technicolor full-length feature film, Snow White. His wife Lilian and brother Roy tried to talk him out of it, skeptical movie insiders dubbed it “Disney’s Folly,” and he ran 400% over budget, but Walt pushed on and eventually succeeded in his dream. Snow White was instant hit and the best-selling movie of his time, earning more than 4 times as much as it cost to create within the year! His creation of Disney Land put him to the edge again. In fact, Walt lived his entire life on the edge…dreaming, creating, and pushing his own (and everyone else’s) limits, but I also believe he’s the world’s most successful entertainer. He’s earned more Oscars (22, plus 4 honorary Academy Awards) and Oscar nominations (59) than any other person in history, and there are 248 awards displayed at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco. Disney’s resorts top the lists of paid tourist attractions around the globe, and our family must be some of Disney World’s greatest fans. The family joke is that our kids grew up at Disney, and it is undoubtedly true that we’ve camped at Disney’s Fort Wilderness more often than place else on earth!In fact, one day when we arrived, the hostess greeted Alan cheerily: “Congratulations! This is your 50th visit!” Our kids also grew up with Walt’s visionary “If you can dream it, you can do it” firmly imprinted on their brains, and as I watch them dream and work to create today, I know that Walt Disney’s legacy continues. How about you and me? Are we living life on the edge, dreaming big and giving it all we’ve got? In God’s will and by his grace, I sure hope so!
“I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound:
every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”
(All photos from Wiki Commons and the 2015 movie, Walt Before Mickey, except the 3 I took at Disney World over the years.)