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Disney: The Magic of Animation

Explore the Mouse House's huge animated catalogue via more than 500 original paintings, sketches and drawings.
By Sarah Ward
May 13, 2021
By Sarah Ward
May 13, 2021

The Mouse House has brought some of its magic our way, with Disney: The Magic of Animation now on display at Melbourne's newly revamped Australian Centre for the Moving Image. Whether you've always been a fan of Mickey Mouse, can remember how it felt when you first watched Bambi, are able to sing all of Genie's lyrics in Aladdin or fell head over heels for Moana more recently, you'll find plenty worth looking at among ACMI's halls and walls. And in its doors, too — because walking beneath mouse ear-shaped openings to move from one area to the next is all part of the experience.

Reopening on Saturday, October 30 and running through till Sunday, January 23 (after a lockdown-delayed season that originally launched on Thursday, May 13), Disney: The Magic of Animation is making its only Aussie stop at ACMI. The exhibition explores everything from 1928's Steamboat Willie — the first talkie to feature Mickey Mouse — through to this year's Raya and the Last Dragon. Obviously, a wealth of other titles get the nod between those two bookending flicks. Fantasia, Alice in Wonderland, Lady and the Tramp, The Jungle Book and The Lion King also feature, as do Mulan, Frozen, Big Hero 6 and Zootopia.

The big drawcard: art from the Mouse House's hefty back catalogue of titles, and heaps of it. More than 500 original artworks feature, spanning paintings, sketches, drawings and concept art. The entire lineup has been specially selected by the Walt Disney Animation Research Library, and will let you get a glimpse at just how the movie magic comes to life, how some of Disney's famous stories were developed, and which animation techniques brought them to the big screen.

Get ready to peer at hand-drawn dalmatians (which is timely, given that Cruella released this year), stare closely at Mickey Mouse's evolution, examine Wreck-It Ralph models and pose next to Snow White. Wall-sized artworks pay tribute to a number of movies, too — The Little Mermaid piece is particularly eye-catching — and feeling like you're stepping into a Disney movie is an unsurprising side effect.

The extended season will also feature screenings, including sing-along sessions of The Little Mermaid, Moana, Frozen and Frozen 2 — plus a viewing of Disney's upcoming release Encanto.

Disney: The Magic of Animation is clearly designed to appeal to Mouse House fans of all ages. You, your parents, today's primary school kids — you've all grown up watching Disney flicks. So, while you're pondering tales as old as time, being ACMI's guest, contemplating the animated circle of life and definitely not letting your nostalgia go, prepare to be accompanied by aficionados both young and young at heart.

Images: Phoebe Powell. Updated October 26.

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