Four years ago, Don Bluth was being hailed at Disney as the crown prince of the studios animation department. Having entered the units training programme in 1971 and risen faster than any of his peers, Bluth was recognised as a leader to whom the torch would be passed by the retiring Snow White generation. But in September 1979, Bluth resigned from Disney, taking many of the brightest young artists with him. The exodus delayed production of the animated feature The Fox and the Hound by six months, and dealt a blow to the studios efforts to replace its old guard.
It was the biggest upheaval in the Disney cartoon factory since the bitter animators strike of 1941, but this one was underscored by an interesting irony. The tirelessly driven Bluth and his friends were not avantgardists bent on subverting the studios artistic traditions. On the contrary, they quit because the new Disney was for them not Disneyish enough. Bluths dream was to bring back the Snow White and Pinocchio era. He wanted the studio to produce animated features in the expensive and labourintensive style in which every scene shimmered with detailed movement. He wanted to leave behind the light comedy of The Aristocats and The Jungle Book and return to stories that contained raw danger and tragedy.