Dream On, Disney

March 11th, 2011

Annie Leibovitz recreates classic moments from Disney films with lavish sets and contemporary actors in her “dream portraits” series and the results are… underwhelming.

The most consistent problem in the series is the grand scope of each tableau. Queen Latifa has a huge… personality and fills Ursula’s tentacles nicely, yet she is lost in that enormous set. Something as simple as a tighter shot, or a bit of cropping, would have produced a more powerful result which actually featured the talent and highlighted her charisma.

Just a little off the top

Drew Barrymore as Alice, by Mark Seliger

The production quality is very high, but everything was just so straightforward, blessed with neither irony nor a Hollywood savviness. I know the work needs to be squeaky clean since the client is Disney. It doesn’t need to be François Nars’ photos of Shalom Harlow as Snow White, flashing garters and panties, or Mark Seliger’s photo of Drew Barrymore as Alice, legs splayed and blowing smoke rings.

But these celebrities have big personalities and their lives and loves off screen are well known. Jeff Bridges as The Beast (post-transformation) and Penélope Cruz as Belle (post-Tom Cruise) simply doesn’t work. Not only is he nearly twice her age, but… the dude abides. He’s just not the cocky prince type. Instead, how about Katie Perry and Russell Brand as Beauty and the Beast? Seliger has already shot Brand magnificently as Charlie Chaplin.

One casting that they nailed was Tina Fey as Tinkerbell, complete with her signature specs. Then they snatched failure from the jaws of victory, making her so tiny as to be unrecognizable.

Where's Waldo?

Speaking of being unrecognizable, Disney cast as the Evil Queen an actress so far below the pop culture radar that they actually had a contest to see who could identify her first: Olivia Wilde. Sorry, never heard of her. (I have since googled her.) When I saw Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as a kid I fell hard for that Evil Queen. Hottttt! She deserved better. How about Susan Sarandon, Isabella Rossellini, or Glenn Close?

I am a great admirer of Annie Leibovitz, and I doubt that she had much creative input into the crafting of these images. The photographs are gorgeous and flawless technically. Photographers need to get paid and she did her job. It’s just a shame that the collaboration between the artist and her client could not have yielded more.

Michael Singman-Aste
Postdiluvian Photo

Tags: , , ,

One response to “Dream On, Disney”

  1. Stephen says:

    I had to reply to your comment, Lisa. The rsoaen is that anyone would say she is photoshopped is comparing the everyday photos that the paparazzi snap of her the ads above. Besides, what world do you like in that makes you think that all ads aren’t photoshopped..ALL of them are. I work at a fashion magazine myself and have been to plenty of shoots, so I actually do know what I am talking about.

Leave a Reply