Wendt and Kühn and Walt Disney's Movie: Saving Mr. Banks

Posted on October 16, 2014 | 0 Comments

In the Disney movie Saving Mr. Banks, a story of the making of Mary PoppinsTom Hanks plays Walt Disney and joyously notes: “There's no greater joy than that seen through the eyes of a child, and there's a little bit of a child in all of us.” Like Walt Disney, Grete Wendt had a special eye for seeing the world through the eyes of children, and with Wendt and Kühn and all the wonderful figures they have created, Grete Wendt gave the world the opportunity to do so as well. It was no wonder that Walt Disney so thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful wooden creations of Wendt and Kühn. 

As reported by the German-American Chamber of Commerce of Atlanta, Georgia: "Remembering her childhood, his daughter Diane Disney Miller wrote: 'My dad collected things that interested him ... As he and mother traveled together, they shopped, as tourists do, seeking out unique little things that pleased them, and that he thought his daughters would like to have.' A staff member at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco confirms this account, 'Walt Disney loved miniatures and picked up many of them on his travels.' He was obviously fascinated by the little wooden figurines from the Grünhainichen workshops of Wendt & Kühn in distant Germany. Perhaps they even provided inspiration for the creation of some of his film characters.... Corinne Leles from the Walt Disney Family Museum recalled, 'From what I have heard personally from Diane is that Walt received many Wendt & Kühn figures purchased by his wife Lillian and given to him as gifts from his two daughters Diane and Sharon.' The studio manager is also said to have presented his colleagues and employees with figurines from Grünhainichen." 

What is especially nice is that in the process of creating the sets for the movie, in October 2012 Disney productions reached out to Wendt & Kühn, determined to recreate Disney's personal office as accurately as possible - his office being a key backdrop in the film. Using photos of Disney's office sent to them by e-mail, Wendt & Kühn happily shipped off to them the figures that they needed. Nothing had changed, Wendt & Kühn was still able to make available the exact same figures. Among them was the Flower Child holding a Sunflower, which you can find here at My Growing Traditions.   

"The Hollywood production team could hardly believe it. 'Thank you for working with us in such a timely manner. ‘Walt’s office’ looked wonderful and authentic. I think you will be pleased when you see the film,' wrote Set Director Susan Benjamin in her thank-you card to the Grünhainichen workshops. And it’s true: in the scenes featuring Tom Hanks in the reconstructed film producer’s office, the Wendt & Kühn characters are wonderful to behold. They are vital props that give the film an authentic feel. The carefree, childlike appearance of the figurines is almost certainly the characteristic that most appealed to Walt Disney. After all, they seem to express a view of the world that Grete Wendt shared with the imaginative film producer."

We say thank you to the German-American Chamber of Commerce of Atlanta for writing this story and thank you to the Disney studios for making it happen in the first place. It is truly nice to see Wendt & Kühn celebrated on film.

You may also enjoy following our Wendt & Kühn Pinterest Board.


Posted in Erzgebirge, German Folk Art, Wendt and Kühn



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