They have shaped the evolution of female characters in film, advanced our technology, and broken down gender barriers in order to give us the empowering story lines we have begun to see in film and animation today. In the shadow of their artistry, millions of childhoods have been shaped, with an untold number yet to come. -Nathalia Holt, The Queens of Animation
Bianca Majolie. Grace Huntington. Sylvia Holland. Retta Scott. Mary Blair.
Strong, creative, fierce, courageous women, giants of their generation who stood up in a society that told women that their place was reserved only for the home, as wives and mothers and homemakers. These women were lovers of art and animation and story. They were mostly uncredited and underappreciated, but now decades later, Nathalia Holt, a detailed and captivating writer of nonfiction, has captured their stories from the annals of history and resurrected their inspirational lives in her new book, “The Queens of Animation: The Untold Story of the Women Who Transformed the World of Disney and Made Cinematic History.”
Holt’s newest book, was a quick read despite its more than 300 pages. Holt recounts the impact that a group of strong women made for generations of children and adults alike in bringing to life the great Disney movies of yesteryear. These women fought discrimination and sexism for years in the “boys club” that was Walt Disney Pictures in the 1930s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. Their undeniable talent rose to the prominence and stood out among their male counterparts. Women of those days received significantly lower pay and were mostly limited to lower level jobs as the studios believed that the investment that they needed to put into their development would be wasted after women became married and left the workforce to raise a family.
The story follows these five inspirational women during the developments of beloved projects like “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Pinocchi,” “Dumbo,” “Bambi,” among others, but then the next wave of women involved in Disney’s renaissance in the late 1980s and 90s. Culminating in the box office animated smash, “Frozen,” which won for Best Animated Feature, marking the first time a female directer, Jennifer Lee, ever won an Academy Award, and the first female director in history whose film grossed more than $1 billion.
Disney’s years of renaissance, when they released “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Lion King,” “Aladdin,” “Mulan,” and others all had influential women in key roles that made significant impacts on their success. Ms. Holt did a superb job in her recounting of a history that was mostly forgotten and discarded by a male-dominated industry. She brings to life these important stories as inspiration to the next generation of storytellers, artists, animators, and filmmakers. These stories are very important and I am so glad that I got the pleasure of learning about them from such a fine writer.
I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone, no matter what you do, or what you aspire to, this was a wonderful book of nonfiction about a persistent societal problem that we can make further progress in as we advance through the 21st century.
I received this eBook free of charge from Little, Brown and Company via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I did not receive any fiscal compensation from either company for this review and the opinions expressed herein are entirely my own.