100 Years of Warner Bros

100 Years of Warner Bros
Original title:100 Years of Warner Bros
Director:Leslie Iwerks
Running time:232 minutes
Release date:01 june 2023
A historical look at the legacy of one of America's greatest studios. This documentary explores the origins, evolution and endurance of Warner Bros, from a family affair to a global giant, as it celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.

Mulder's Review

Stepping onto the Warner Bros. grounds in Burbank, California, one can't help but feel a sense of awe and wonder at the history inscribed within its walls. This year marks a remarkable milestone: the 100th anniversary of Warner Bros, a studio that has left an indelible mark on the entertainment industry. To celebrate this monumental achievement, the studio has launched the 100 Years of Warner Bros documentary series, a four-part exploration of the studio's journey from inception to global entertainment powerhouse. After being presented at this year's Cannes Film Festival, it's now the turn of the Deauville American Film Festival to host this exceptional documentary series.

Narrated by the iconic Morgan Freeman and directed by accomplished filmmaker Leslie Iwerks, this documentary series is both a tribute to the past and a testament to the future. From its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival to its broadcast on Warner Bros.' Max streaming service, the series takes viewers on a captivating journey through the studio's evolution, achievements and challenges.

The series is structured into four distinct parts, each focusing on a different era and aspect of Warner Bros. history. It begins with the intriguing title The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of, which traces the journey of the Warner brothers as they laid the foundations of a film studio that would shape the course of cinema history. The risk they took in switching from silent to talkies with The Jazz Singer revolutionized the industry and set the studio on the road to greatness. The documentary doesn't shy away from exploring the family dynamics and challenges that marked the Warner brothers' journey.

The second part, Clint, Kubrick and Kryptonite, looks at the transformations of the 60s and 70s, showing how Warner Bros. adapted to the changing Hollywood landscape. Through key partnerships and groundbreaking projects, the studio consolidated its reputation as a creative powerhouse. The third segment, "Heroes, Villains, and Friends, looks back at the 80s and 90s, highlighting Warner Bros.' resilience during financial turbulence and its successful entry into television production with iconic series such as Friends and ER. This period also saw the emergence of Warner Bros. as a major player in the blockbuster era, with films that left an indelible mark on pop culture.

The final chapter, The Wizarding World and the Big Bang, propels us into the 21st century, where mergers and the digital age have reshaped the industry's landscape. From the rebirth of Batman with Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy to the creation of the Wizarding World franchise, Warner Bros. has proven its ability to remain relevant in an ever-changing world. The documentary tackles the complexity of modern challenges, including navigating digital streaming platforms and adapting to changing audience preferences.

One of the most compelling aspects of the documentary series is its commitment to authenticity. With over sixty interviews with directors, actors, producers, historians and executives, the series offers an insightful look into the inner workings of the studio. From Lynda Carter's tour of the costume department to conversations with industry legends such as Martin Scorsese and Gal Gadot, these interviews provide first-hand accounts that enrich the narrative.

However, as the series progresses, it shifts subtly from the studio's history to showcasing top films and TV productions. While this broadens the context of the studio's achievements, it sometimes detracts from the behind-the-scenes aspects that initially drew viewers in. The series sometimes skims over the controversies and challenges the studio faced, leaving out some of the nuanced complexities of its history.

In a world where the entertainment landscape is rapidly changing, 100 Years of Warner Bros. reminds us of the enduring power of storytelling. Whether fighting Nazi influence on the silver screen or embracing technological advances, Warner Bros. has always demonstrated its willingness to push the envelope. This documentary is a captivating tribute to the studio's legacy, providing a treasure trove of information, anecdotes and insights into the Warner Bros. universe.

As we immerse ourselves in the history and anecdotes presented in 100 Years of Warner Bros. we are struck by the sense of wonder we feel when we realize the impact one studio can have on an entire industry. This documentary is a must-see for cinephiles, history buffs and anyone interested in the evolution of Hollywood. It captures the magic of the movies and reminds us that, even after a century, the Warner Bros. journey is far from over.

With testimonials from Alan Horn, Alan K. Rode, Alfonso Cuarón, Andy Garcia, Barry Meyer, Baz Luhrmann, Ben Mankiewicz, Bob Daly, Candice Bergen, Cass Warner, Charles Roven, Chris Columbus, Christopher Nolan, Chuck Lorre, Clint Eastwood, Constance Wu, Daniel Radcliffe, Eddie Muller, Edward James Olmos, Ellen DeGeneres, Emma Thomas, Ernest Dickerson, Gal Gadot, George Clooney, Gregory Nava, Gregory Orr, Harvey Keitel, Jacqueline Coley, Jacqueline Stewart, Jesse Palmer, John Wells, Jon M. Chu, Ke Huy Quan, Keanu Reeves, Kevin Costner, Kim Basinger, Leonard Maltin, LeVar Burton, Linda Blair, Linda Lavin, Lynda Carter, Martin Scorsese Matthew Modine, Michael Schneider, Oliver Stone, Oprah Winfrey, Orlando Bloom, Patty Jenkins, Peter Roth, Quinta Brunson, Robert De Niro, Ron Howard, Tim Burton, Toby Emmerich, Todd Phillips Tony Gilroy and William Friedkin.

100 Years of Warner Bros
Written and directed by Leslie Iwerks
Produced by Leslie Iwerks
Starring George Clooney, Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese, Oprah Winfrey, Christopher Nolan 
Cinematography : Jonathan Ingalls
Edited by Hyunsoo Moon, Lance Larson, David Isser, Caleb Emerson & Quin O'Brien
Distributed by Warner Bros
Running time : 232 minutes

Viewed August 26, 2023 (screener press)

Mulder's Mark:

Sabine's Review

To celebrate its centenary, Warner Bros is offering a documentary retracing its history in 4 episodes of around an hour each. WB is the third oldest American movie studio still alive, along with Paramount Pictures and Universal Pictures. Founded by four brothers, Jack, Albert, Harry and Sam Warner, Polish emigrants, the small family business has become an entertainment giant, one of the world leaders in film and audiovisual production and distribution, in the fields of media, cinema, television, web and video games.

The specificity of this documentary series lies in its historical narrative from a creative, technical and economic point of view. Artists, directors, actors, screenwriters, but also producers and historians tell the story of the birth of films, series, talk shows, but also the technological changes, from silent to talking, from film to digital, and the economic history of this studio. With more than 60 interviews, the director and producer, Leslie Iwerks explores the successes but also the failures. She knows the studio world well. She is the granddaughter of Mickey Mouse co-creator Ub Iwerks with Walt Disney. She succeeds in a story between art and industry, where the specificities of this studio emerge, such as its production of films rooted in a social reality, its ability to forge close relationships with directors.

Warner Bros will continue to change its name with mergers and acquisitions in the 90s: Time Warner, AOL Time Warner, Warner Media, to become Warner Bros Discovery in 2021. Some mergers were a disaster. Each time, movies, like Batman, Matrix, Harry Potter, saved the studios.

Certainly, there are hagiographic testimonies from the speakers, and omissions, such as this spectacular announcement at the end of 2020 that around twenty films would be released simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max. This decision will lead to the departure of Christopher Nolan to Universal. This director nevertheless testifies to his fruitful collaboration with the studio for 20 years. After viewing the fabulous history of this studio, a question remains: what will be the place of cinema and movie theaters in the strategy of the WB Discovery group, knowing that its CEO, David Zaslav, comes from the Discovery group?

After being screened at the Cannes and Deauville Festivals, this documentary series will be broadcast on the TCM channel from September 7. Coincidentally, directors Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg and Wes Anderson mobilized this summer to ensure that this movie channel is spared from the vast savings plan brought about by the merger with Discovery. A sign which shows that its CEO remains attentive to creators, as his predecessors did.

Episode 1: What Dreams Are Made Of
The documentary traces the beginnings of the studio, created by four immigrant brothers of Polish origin, their bold transition from silent films to talkies and cartoons. It's the golden age of the studios with producer Daryl Zanuck, the musicals of Busby Berkeley,... But personal ambitions lead to family betrayal.

2nd episode: Clint, Kubrick & Kryptonite
After the sale of Warner Bros to Seven Arts, the era of mergers and acquisitions began for the studio. The different tandems at the head of film production contribute to the emergence of the new Hollywood, producing both innovative works like those of Stanley Kubrick, and blockbusters like Superman. Television series are becoming more and more important, exploiting the DC Comics universe like Wonder Woman.

3rd episode: Friends, Heroes and Villains
The 80s see the advent of blockbusters and the 90s see the advent of series like Friends and ER. The producers continue their collaboration with directors like Clint Easwood, who revolutionizes the western with Unforgiven.

4th episode: The wizarding world & the Big Bang
The Harry Potter saga saves the studio from bankruptcy following its failed merger with AOL. Integrating technological changes, and after overcoming Covid, the WB studio continues its development, by partnering with Discovery in 2021.

100 Years of Warner Bros
Written and directed by Leslie Iwerks
Produced by Leslie Iwerks
Starring George Clooney, Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese, Oprah Winfrey, Christopher Nolan 
Cinematography : Jonathan Ingalls
Edited by Hyunsoo Moon, Lance Larson, David Isser, Caleb Emerson & Quin O'Brien
Distributed by Warner Bros
Running time : 232 minutes, 4 episodes of 58 minutes

Viewed August 28, 2023 (screener press)


Sabine's Mark: