90 Movies in 90 Days: Adventures thru Walt Disney’s Archives (2020)

I’m kicking off 2023 by trying to watch and review one movie every day for the first 90 days, all of which will be 90 minutes or less.

Title: Adventures thru Walt Disney’s Archives
Release Date: June 27, 2020
Director: John Gleim
Production Company: The Walt Disney Studio Archives

The Walt Disney Company maintains extensive archival collections of records related to its founder, films and TV programs, and its theme parks.  It was founded by Dave Smith in 1970 and to my knowledge is a model of a corporate archives.  A lot of companies, even big ones, still don’t even have archives or they’re very limited in scope. This documentary is hosted by Don Hahn (who directed Waking Sleeping Beauty and produced Beauty and the Beast among other things) and humorously depicts his visit to several parts of the Walt Disney Archives.

As an archivist, I’m pleased to see positive representation of archives and archivists in media, especially since the field is so full of misconceptions.  Hahn and the archives staff examine historical documents, photographs, props and costumes, and even a digitization laboratory.  Historical researchers and people involved in making Disney productions also talk in interviews about how they use the archives, not to mention being wowed by the treasures it holds.  But the archives staff is front and center in this movie which I think is really great.

Granted, the whole documentary is a long rah-rah celebration of Walt Disney and the company he founded.  So you’re enjoyment of this movie will depend on how much you can tolerate corporate propaganda.  But as an archivist and a Disney fan, I approve!

Rating: ***

Book Review: How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn

Around the World for a Good Book selection for Wales

Author: How Green Was My Valley
Title: Richard Llewellyn
Narrator: Ralph Cosham
Publication Info: [Ashland, Or.] : Blackstone Audio, Inc., 2011. [originally published in 1939]

This novel is a coming-of-age story set in the Welsh coal mining region of the late 19th century that blends sentimental nostalgia with gritty reality.  The narrator is Huw Morgan, the 8th of 9 children and the youngest son in a family of coal miners.  An accident in Huw’s childhood makes him unable to walk for several years and during that time he develops a passion for reading that leads to him going on to higher levels of education than the rest of his family.

Through the novel Huw observes the conflicts between the miners and the companies that own the mines that leads to union organizing and strikes.  Huw’s father Gwilym and some of his brothers are opposed to activism while other brother are labor organizers.  Over time the declining fortunes in the valley lead to Huw’s siblings leaving Wales to try their luck elsewhere.  Huw also observes the environmental degradation to the valley by the mining operations.  The novel also deals with gossip and scandals in the valley such as affairs and unplanned pregnancy.  While Gwilym supports Huw’s education, his mother Beth is firmly against it, especially when Huw’s teacher only speaks in English and discriminates against the Welsh.

There are apparently a whole series of books about Huw Morgan, but I think I’ve had my fill of Huw.  The style of writing is too old-fashioned for my taste although I can see why it’s considered a classic novel.  I once watched the film adaptation of How Green Was My Valley as a teenager (mainly because I had a crush on Maureen O’Hara) but I don’t remember it at all.  I will have to rewatch the movie and see how faithful it is to the book.

Rating: ***