Monthly Archives: July 2005

Disney Saves Those Who Save Themselves

I haven’t written in detail about the Disney corporation for a long time now, for a very simple reason: it’s just kind of depressing. That last time I touched on it was briefly when Joe Grant died (see here), but the only detailed post I wrote was way back in 2003, when Roy E. Disney had just resigned from his post with the company. As I wrote then:

I have no inside knowledge of the studio, so have no idea how effective Roy E. was as a board member. But even if his role was purely ceremonial, the symbolism of what’s occurred is bad enough. Roy E. Disney is Walt Disney’s nephew, and the son of studio co-founder Roy Disney. Given the elder Roy’s much larger then generally understood role in the studio’s operation (he ran the business end until after Walt’s death, and the studio was initially the “Disney Brothers” studio), Roy E. represented a direct, tangible link to the heritage of the company, which has always been its greatest asset. It’s long been easy – and largely accurate – to disparage Disney as just another soulless media conglomerate, but Roy E. was still there as a human link to the glory days of the thirties when Walt blazed his trails. (Sure Roy E. was just a kid at the time, but we’re talking symbolism here).

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Sixteen Years and Counting

Ain’t It Cool News are carrying a small item that links over to The Indy Experience, which in turn links to an interview with Kathleen Kennedy at Now Playing Magazine. Kennedy, for those who don’t recall, has been one of Steven Spielberg’s chief lieutenants (usually as producer) since as long ago as E.T., and she provides the latest, most reliable update on Indiana Jones IV, which is now to be set in the late 1940s:

“We’re working on a screenplay,” says Kennedy, long-time producing partner of Steven Spielberg. “I know this sounds like something that we’ve been saying for 15 years, but I’m hoping that we’re going to see something in a couple of months. Jeff Nathanson is working on the script right now… I will say this: If it comes in and we’re all happy with it, it will be more than likely the next thing we do.”

Kennedy acknowledges that previous reports of Nathanson’s script being “approved” by Indy producer George Lucas and director Spielberg were true, but that doesn’t quite mean what it sounds like it does.

“It’s one thing to approve something, it’s another thing to say it’s greenlit and we’re shooting it. So we’re just in that sort of phase of finessing,” she says, before responding to a question about whether or not star Harrison Ford is too old for the part these days. “No, I don’t think so. Certainly we’re not writing the script as though he’s 20 years old. You know, Sean Connery spent a lot of time in the Bond role and whatnot. I think it’s great that we can go make another Indiana Jones movie and Indy can be a little older. I think playing with that is a good thing.”

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War Weary

War of the Worlds (Steven Spielberg, 2005)

It’s sort of amazing, really, that Steven Spielberg is still top of the Hollywood tree. Given the constant upping of the ante since his Jaws (along with Star Wars) basically invented the modern Hollywood blockbuster, you would think he might have fallen by the wayside. Yet with War of the Worlds he once again steps up to the plate and shows just why he continues to lead the pack of A-list directors. War of the Worlds is his take on familiar material: not only has H.G. Wells’ novel been filmed before (in a George Pal-produced 1953 version), but it was the source material for Orson Welles’ infamous radio broadcast that spooked America in 1938. And, of course, it was the unofficial jumping off point for Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day in 1996. It is a perfect choice of project for Spielberg, forming as it does a companion piece with his classic tale of benevolent aliens, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. If that film was kind of a sixties hangover, with its stirring finale of intergalactic peace, love, and harmony, then War of the Worlds is the grim, bitter and bleak counterpoint. It’s an extremely well made and effective film, but a feel-good thrill ride it certainly is not.

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