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331. Leibovitz & 3 New Disney Park Portraits.

Have you seen these dream portraits from legendary photographer, Anne Leibovitz, for Disney Parks? Leibowitz was hired to shoot scenes from some of Disney more iconic animated films using real celebrities as stand-ins for the main characters. For instance, Rachel Weis as Snow White, Julianne Moore as Ariel, and even David Beckham as Prince Philip. The resulting set of shots are used as landscape prints for the parks and feature the classic Walt Disney W as a drop cap in headlines that tout the park as a place where dreams and fairy tales are an everyday occurrence.

Last week, the park and the photographer released three new entries into the series: Penelope Cruz and Jeff Bridges appear as Belle and the Prince; Queen Latifah as Ursula (The Little Mermaid), and Olivia Wilde and Alex Baldwin team up as the Queen and the Mirror from Snow White.

For the most part, the lines work really well - especially when combined with the subtle surprise of which celebrity was used to represent which character. There is some debate already as which celebs should have been cast, but overall they seem to have at least chosen interesting matches. What I found to be the biggest weakness of this series is the retouching, which I am sure Leibovitz supervised. No doubt going for a surreal, or even slightly animated aesthetic, the final shots come across more as overly photoshopped. (Take a look at the teacup shot featuring Lyle Lovett, Oliver Platt, and a slightly blurred Beyonce.) I do like the idea and some of them are just beautiful. But from the art direction cheap seats, I wish they would have used a light touch on the photos whenever possible, letting the use of celebs carry more of the fantasy role. More realistic images would have made the addition of the Castle or the other special effects more palatable. To me, at least. They aren't bad per se, but they aren't quite what they could have been.

Whereas the Pocahontas set feels more like your average taxidermy-filled display at a local museum of natural history, the Cinderella shot is perfectly done. Hit or miss as a whole. Of the three new ones, Queen Latifah as Ursula looks great, and the Queen (with Mirror) looks almost illustrated, which actually works. However, you can see in the Beauty and the Beast shot how things can go quickly into a PSD nightmare.

Here's a Making-of Video:

It's always hard finding fault with someone like Leibovitz (Who am I to critique her work, alas?), but I have posted as many as I could find, below, for you to form your own opinion. I have included the three new shots as well. As a set, this is a fairly impressive undertaking for which the compay and photographer deserve a lot of credit. You can tell they had a lot of fun putting them together.

Disney & Leibowitz Dream Portraits (click for larger view):


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