Anthony Lane's article about Walt Disney in the Dec. 11, 2006, issue of The New Yorker is worth checking out. Lane makes a wonderful comparison between Disney and Dickens, by way of G. K. Chesterton:
'As G. K. Chesterton wrote, irrefutably, "Dickens did not write what the people wanted. Dickens wanted what the people wanted."'
But Lane (a writer I have been enjoying for years now) does not need Chesterton to heighten the insight of his own writing: "[Disney] became an industry, but the one thing that links the industrialist, whatever the product, with the auteur, whatever the form, is obsessive pedantry—the will to get things right, whatever the cost may be."
One especially interesting factoid in the article has to do with Disney's decline after the end of his peak period in 1942. His last five films at the time had been "Snow White," "Pinocchio," "Fantasia," "Dumbo," and "Bambi" (not a bad run!). But the decline was not purely creative: Disney's animators went on strike in 1941. The resulting changes in his relationship to his animators meant that the intensive labor that made those five movies so deep and brilliant became too expensive.