London exhibition celebrates 100 years of Disney

By Marie-Louise Gumuchian

LONDON (Reuters) – From Mickey Mouse sketches to Cinderella’s glass slipper, a new exhibition opening in London on Friday celebrates 100 years of the magical world of Disney.

The Walt Disney Archives has selected an array of art, props and costumes featured in classic animations such as “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and “The Jungle Book” as well as more recent live-action productions like “Cruella” and “Beauty and the Beast”.

More than 250 items are on display at “Disney 100: The Exhibition”, which begins with an introduction to animator and producer Walt Disney and his character, Oswald The Lucky Rabbit, said to be a prototype for Mickey Mouse.

Throughout the exhibition’s 10 galleries, visitors can look at props including the carousel horse used by Dick van Dyke in “Mary Poppins” to production models of characters Lumiere and Cogsworth from the live-action remake of “Beauty and the Beast”.

Also featured are sketches and interactive stations, and items from Marvel, Pixar and the “Star Wars” films, now part of the Disney conglomerate.

“Most people’s first experience of being in a movie theatre is usually a Disney movie and that connects us all in, in a huge, huge way,” animator and director Eric Goldberg told Reuters at a press preview of the exhibition on Thursday.

“These characters can remain true and universal for decades,” said Goldberg, who has worked on various Disney characters starting with the Genie in the 1992 animated feature “Aladdin”.

Bret Iwan, who has voiced the character of Mickey Mouse since 2009, sees no threat of being replaced by artificial intelligence. “Mickey requires such a warmth that I haven’t really taken the time to be bothered by it,” he said.

The exhibition at London’s ExCel, of which another version will open in Chicago next month, runs as The Walt Disney Company marks 100 years since its founding, considered to be when Walt and his brother Roy Disney signed a contract with New York cartoon distributor Margaret Winkler on Oct. 16, 1923.

(Reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Richard Chang)