(Burbank) Princess costumes, sketches or photos: in a century of existence, Disney has amassed hundreds of millions of treasures, which today make it possible to trace entire sections of the history of Hollywood cinema.
The studio, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary on October 16, recently opened its headquarters depot in Burbank, near Los Angeles, to the press. Enough to show “the tip of the iceberg”, rejoices the director of the archives, Becky Cline.
These bookstore-like rooms house a host of relics, including the legendary Mickey Mouse’s first script, the founding legal document attesting to the creation of the studios, and a slew of Marvel superhero costumes.
“We collect so much that we’re always looking for extra space,” says archivist Nicole Carroll.
Old roller coaster cars from their amusement parks, a wide variety of film props: beyond the Burbank site, Disney stores millions of objects and souvenirs in “five or six” warehouses “scattered” around the region from Los Angeles.
Many of them are to be presented to the public through the “Disney100” exhibition, currently underway in Munich and Philadelphia, and which is then to be installed in other cities, including London.
For its centenary, the studio is also organizing an immersive “multisensory experience” in Paris, at the CentQuatre cultural space, centered on the friendships between its emblematic characters.
Founded in 1970, the team of archivists today consists of 30 people and strives to keep a “little representation” of everything the company has done, says Ms. Carroll.
On a film with 250 costumes, including four or five for each of the heroes, they select, for example, “a few iconic looks of each character” for posterity. Despite this selective approach, each time a film ends, “we could add hundreds of things” to the collection, she explains.
Worthy of Aladdin’s genius cave, the archives sometimes turn out to be very practical. After narrowly escaping the trash, a snow globe from 1964’s Mary Poppins was used to design a replica for the sequel to The Magical Governess’s Adventures, released in 2018.
Some of the most treasured relics include the giant storybooks appearing at the start of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Sleeping Beauty, as well as a Cinderella crystal slipper.
Including the Documentary Archive, which compiles the original edition of numerous cartoons, tickets to the opening of Disneyland in 1955, and a host of corporate documents, the studio’s total collection reaches “hundreds of millions” of items. , according to Becky Cline, the director.
But the most mythical space for fans remains the personal offices of the founder Walt Disney, restored a little less than 10 years ago on the Burbank site. It was from there that the cartoonist built his entertainment empire, from 1940 until his death in 1966.
The items he left behind have been painstakingly inventoried and the rooms are laid out exactly as they were then, right down to the slant of his books on Nikola Tesla or Salvador Dali.
These desks also contain unfinished amusement park plans and character figurines. Not to mention the multiple Oscars won by Walt Disney.
Only a few groups of visitors are admitted each year to this space, revered as the holy of holies by a community of devouring fans.
“People come in and cry for this amazing human being,” says tour guide Laura Sanchez. “It allows them to tread on the past. »