Annie Leibovitz’s Dodgy Disney Dream Celebrity Portraits
Disney Dream Portraits is a Disney Parks initiative whereby Annie Leibovitz, the world’s most famous photographer, assembles a cast of similarly celebrated individuals to appear in a series of unbelievably ghastly images that sloppily recreate the characters and settings of classic animated films from Walt Disney Pictures. Leibovitz’s prodigious Photoshopping made it possible (and obvious) that none of the models were present at the same time or even in the costumes they’re meant to be wearing, making this newest Disney set — featuring Olivia Wilde, Alec Baldwin, Jeff Bridges, Queen Latifah and Penelope Cruz — truly something to behold.
Leibovitz does a decent job of creating a surreal stormy sea for Queen Latifah, who invokes the madness of Ursula, the sea witch from The Little Mermaid with her great acting. But she’s undermined by
the plainly copy-and-pasted hair and jewelry (and maybe even the bustier). Some behind-the-scenes shots at Celebuzz confirm Queen Latifah was wearing a big and that those tentacles were indeed practical. So we stand corrected – the photo isn’t as digitally dependent as we thought, it just sucks.
Look at this garish mess of Jeff Bridges and Penelope Cruz as the principals of Beauty and the Beast, which is so dodgy that it’d get laughed out of DeviantArt. The shortest glance at the lighting and eye-lines confirms the Dude and the Cruz are clearly not on the same blue screen together, and whether they’re even wearing those clothes is anybody’s guess. Experts in Photoshop forensics could probably spend all day dissecting this astonishing image, which is so overt in its tackiness that one has to wonder how much harder and more expensive it must have been to construct it in this fashion than to just shoot the models together, in costume and in front of some kind of stupid garden somewhere. Perhaps the most egregious issue with this photo is just how un-Disney it is.
Leibovitz’s most successful shot is this one, recreating the wicked queen’s lair from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. The setting is obviously fake as hell but it works as a recreation of a Disney film and a hyper-real Leibovitz photo. Unfortunately, Alec Baldwin as the slave of the magic mirror looks much worse than the hand-drawn animated version from 1937. That’s supposedly Olivia Wilde as the Queen, we’ll just have to take Disney’s word for it.
Whoever it is, it appears their face was drag-and-dropped onto that head. Behind-the-scenes shots at Celebuzz confirm that’s actually a human being in the full costume, so they just used computers to make it look worse.
There’s a great idea underneath all these photographs. The Annie Leibovitz of many years ago would have executed what should have been impossibly beautiful live-action Disney images with aplomb. But what Disney failed to notice was that the Annie Leibovitz of today is more of a delegator of post-production processes, and the creator of the unforgettably hilarious promo shots for Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.
Below are some more of Leibovitz’s Disney Dream Portraits from previous sets, some of which are actually pretty cool.
Gisele Bundchen as Wendy Darling, Mikhail Baryshnikov as Peter Pan, Tina Fey as Tinker Bell.
Jessica Biel as Pocahontas.
Scarlett Johansson as Cinderella.
Roger Federer as King “Wart” Arthur from The Sword in the Stone.
Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony as Princess Jasmine and Aladdin.
Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens as Prince Phillip and Princess Aurora from Sleeping Beauty.
Whoopi Goldberg as the Genie from Aladdin.