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Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Pixar Story by Leslie Iwerks

We were very fortunate to get a screening of Leslie Iwerks' "The Pixar Story" here at work and she was on site for an introduction and a Q&A after the movie.

The documentary was very well done and brings across the golden age of Pixar in an entertaining and humorous way, without glorification or bypassing their mistakes and problems. It makes you wish you were there during the founding and the early successes, during the move to their current location in Emeryville, basically up until around the time of "The Incredibles". After that the documentary makes it look like Pixar has grown up and the innocence is gone, which happens to any company (like ILM, Aardman, etc.) after multiple successes and growth, there is just too much at stake.

Thanks to full access to Pixar's and Lucasfilm's library you get to see a lot of home videos and behind-the-scenes footage which gives the documentary a very intimate and personal touch. Leslie Iwerks mentioned that she hopes to include a lot more unseen and archival footage on the DVD (especially from the early Lucasfilm era), which should see a DVD release early next year (she has 600 hours of footage to go through, so early next year might be very optimistic).

What sets this documentary apart, to me at least, was the inclusion of Lasseter's wife and her commenting on how hard it is to share John with the company. You rarely get to hear comments from family members and the sacrifices that come with this job, so that part was very refreshing and I wish you'd see more of that from different employees (but that's difficult because not everybody wants to be in the spotlight).

So visually it was great, but if you are an avid Pixar and Lucasfilm film fan, there isn't any new information to be found. Especially if you read Droidmaker: George Lucas and the Digital Revolution, which is by far the most comprehensive and nerdiest book out there (right down to the description of who and how and when they created the name "Pixar"). It's impossible to condense that book into "The Pixar Story" running time, so I recommend watching the documentary first and if you want to go even more in depth, then check out Michael Rubin's book.

Theater and TV screenings are coming and of course the DVD, so make sure you get to watch it somehow/somewhere, you won't regret it.

I also recommend: The Hand Behind the Mouse - The Ub Iwerks Story


Joey said...

Just Saw this documentary film tonight. And I asked to Pete Docter,the Director of Monster Inc. for his autograph on the Poster of the documentary "The Pixar Story"! Ha..

Jean-Denis Haas said...