Along with Superman, Santa Claus, and Coca-Cola, Mickey Mouse is one of the most recognisable icons in the world. The character – who made his debut in the 1926 shorts, Plane Crazy and The Gallopin’ Gaucho – has fronted everything from cartoons to movies and merchandise, and is regarded as the most successful cartoon character of all time.
But to achieve such status, Mickey has had to survive the ups and downs of life. Being an icon doesn’t come easy you know, and this mouse has got one heck of a story to tell.
And that story is the subject of a new documentary film, appropriately titled Mickey: The Story of a Mouse. The film – directed by Jeff Malmberg – charts Mickey’s rise in popularity from the 1920s to the present day, and is available to stream on Disney+ now.
Mickey: The Story of a Mouse is a docu-film which covers all areas of Mickey’s journey, from the early years, where he represented a symbol of hope and positivity during the dark days of the US depression, through to his current place as the figurehead of a multi-faceted company. From the success of Steamboat Willy and the creation of Disneyland, to the box office failure of Fantasia and the death of Walt Disney, the film covers the highs, the lows, and everything in between.
No stone is left unturned, and all aspects of Mickey’s existence are addressed. The movie covers his time during the war years (both World War II and Vietnam), the civil rights movement, and across many of the major cultural shifts and developments during the 20th and 21st Centuries.
Mickey has weathered many storms and has had to undertake a fair bit of reinvention, and this film lifts the lid on all of this, with a specific look at his popularity and durability. It also discusses the ongoing challenges of keeping Mickey as successful as he is, while trying to remain true to the character that was created by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks.
As 90-minute docu-films on Mickey Mouse go, this one is pretty solid stuff. It crams a great deal into its runtime, provides an interesting overview of Mickey’s journey, and presents a well-rounded portrait of the character as we hurtle ever closer to his centenary.
For those who know nothing about Mickey (other than the basics), there’s much to see, and much to take away. One of the strengths of Mickey: The Story of a Mouse is the film’s ability to cover lots of different eras, and this really does give the audience a great deal to absorb.
Will you learn new things? Yes, most likely. When you reach the status and longevity that Mickey has, the story can’t just be about one thing, and this docu-film attempts to offer a bit of everything, so there really is something for all.
The movie also dips into some of the not-so comfortable aspects of Mickey’s existence which don’t always get talked about. The legal protections that Disney employ to safeguard their star are discussed, as are the points in time when Mickey Mouse cartoons leaned into negative racial stereotypes.
Sure, some aspects of Mickey’s story could do with a little more depth, and some of the more negative stuff is glossed over quite quickly, but on the whole this movie is very informative. Mickey: The Story of a Mouse delivers enough material to keep things chugging along nicely, while continually offering up new angles on the much-loved character.
So, whether you are a long-time fan, or someone who has never really connected with Mickey Mouse, this docu-film is worth checking out. You’re sure to come away with a new appreciation for Disney’s biggest star, or at the very least, a better understanding of what makes a character like this tick.