101 of 103 people found the following review helpful
on September 23, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
When I was little, I watched this movie so many times that, even now, I can talk along with the movie the whole time. This movie focuses on the non-arithmetic aspects of math. My dad, a math professor and Physics PhD, really likes this movie. He shows it on the first day of every class he teaches. This movie really started my love of math. It shows that, in the words of Donald himself, "Mathematics is a lot more than two times two!" This is a great buy at almost any price.
32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
One of the last four theatrical Donald Duck cartoons, Donald in Mathmagic Land didn't get the Academy Award for 1959, which went to John Hubley's Moonbird, but it was nominated for "Best Documentary Short". In retrospect, it's probably not only the best educational short of that year, but one of the best of any year. Hamilton Luske directed this lavish featurette, which despite clocking in at only 27 minutes, is filled with modernistic late '50s style art, dense and lavish color, and our favorite, irascible duck.
Teachers loved to project this film for their classes, as it was so far above the host of now decently buried educational films of the time. This DVD opens with a montage trailer of scenes from the "Wonderful World of Disney" releases, which have the characteristic look of the four color Technicolor of the '60s, and that places this film in its rightful millieu. In his biography, former NBC head, Pat Weaver recalls that Disney offered NBC its film and TV catalog in the mid- '50s if NBC would buy a fourth of the then fledgling Disneyland Park. David Sarnoff, president of RCA, which owned NBC, flatly refused. The Disneyland TV show therefore continued on ABC, with a title change in the 1959 season to "Walt Disney Presents". Due to the runaway success of Davey Crockett, however, ABC wanted Walt to keep cranking out westerns, so in 1961, the program moved to NBC, with a new name many viewers remember, "The Wonderful World of Color".
"General" Sarnoff had made clear that RCA's one goal was to sell color TV sets, since most homes still had black and white, and "Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land" aired on its new network as part of an hour show hosted by a new character, Ludwig Von Drake, called "An Adventure in Color". I very much wish that had been included on this DVD, as not only is the program interesting in its own right, as well as a favorite of Von Drake fans, but it's a fascinating snapshot of the early days of color TV, as the mallard professor talks about color, with continual asides like "you people with black and white sets will have to imagine what this looks like". Then there's the theme song, "The world is a carousel of color, color, color. Wonderful, wonderful color." The accompanying slow motion nature shots made for an unforgettable, captivating entrance to the show, which segued to the magic paintbrush, the famous trademark of Disney educational films. Even in the days of black and white sets, Disney had farsightedly chosen to film in color.
An early VHS release for video stores included the entire show, but so far, the other part hasn't made it to DVD. This shorter featurette, however, stands alone, and has far outlived most of the other animated shorts from the show. It's also on The Chronological Donald Volume Four. Some reviewers have noted that ten bucks might be a bit high for an under half hour show, and it would be nice to have some extras like interviews with animators or commentary on the short. However, anyone who's ever seen this film will probably just be happy to find it on DVD. There's also an "enhanced" teacher's edition for about $50. That may seem steep, but you get a "printable teachers' guide" and public performance license to show it in class, not unlike when educators of an earlier era would rush to rent the film reel from distributors, and it probably ranked as the most checked out educational film.
The math in this film has been criticized, and some of it seems a bit of a stretch, but anyone interested in the Golden Section or Divine Proportion, as it is variously termed, or patterns in nature, or basic principles of how a guitar works likely first got the bug watching this show. Someone might even have hit the billiard hall armed with tricky shots from the film. Some of the chessboard and geometric shapes parts might seem more like an excuse to make some animation, but they are still entertaining, and this is not the only wildly speculative Disney film. If a few bits seem somewhat dated, that's all part of the fun of a period film, and for animation lovers, this one is a treasure trove. So in many ways, this bare-bones, budget edition is the best of all worlds, and will likely entice new viewers to join old fans on the well-trod path with Donald in Mathmagic Land.
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
This fondly remembered 27-minute short subject from 1959 was previously released on the limited edition 2-disc "Walt Disney Treasures: The Chronological Donald, Vol. 4" in 2008. Although limited to only 35,000, true Donald fans might instead want to track down a used or collectible copy of that two-disc set which included this short alongside 30 other cartoons from that era as well as ten 1999 Donald Duck shorts and other special features. The current pre-order price seems particularly steep for a bare-bones disc with a 27-minute program, and if this disc is similar or identical to the version previously exclusive to the Disney Movie Club, it will include nothing besides the main feature and previews for upcoming Disney films and DVDs.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2006
Format: VHS TapeVerified Purchase
At about age two my youngest daughter started watching "Donald in Mathmagic Land" (a Disney video). Several years later, she still loves to watch it. I am afraid the video will wear out.
For those unfamiliar with the movie, Donald Duck takes a tour of mathmagic land. He visits with the ancient greek philosophers and mathematicians (and ends up in a musical jazz jam session with them), plays billiards, visits with characters from Alice in Wonderland, and more.
You and your children will love the movie. Even though I am old and gray, I still get a few laughs from the movie. Whenever I see a square root, I think of the "square roots" in this movie.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2007
This highly acclaimed, Academy Award nominated film (Documentary, Short Subject, 1959), is one of the most popular and entertaining educational films ever made by Walt Disney. A cuious Donald Duck ventures into a mystical world of fantasy. Mathmagic Land is his destination - a wondrous land brimming with numbers! During his lively journey, Donald discovers that you can have mirth with math, fun with fractions, and laughs with logic in this fascinating and timeless milestone in Disney's animation legacy.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 9, 2005
Format: VHS Tape
This movie shows us the less familiar side of math: the underlying logic of quantity, shape, and space, and its relation to pretty much everything in existence. This film elegantly presents the more elegant aspects of "math", including:
- the amazing, unexpected patterns & shapes we find in nature
- the simple relationships between different 2- and 3-dimensional shapes
- the beautiful ratios in music that make music sound beautiful
- the patterns and ratios often used in visual art & architecture
The film also points out the mathematical aspects of everyday things like games, sports, and machines, and helps us play with the idea of "infinity".
You will find this movie enjoyable no matter your age or background. You could be a 50-year-old math professor who appreciates mathematical elegance, or a 16-year-old who thinks statistics class is boring, or a 3-year-old who likes pretty shapes and patterns, and you would definitely enjoy this film.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on February 9, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
This video is a wonderful fantasy into "mathmagic" land to visit the mathmaticians that Donald calls "eggheads". Learn geometry, fractions,pi,addition and subtraction, and history of math. Without even knowing it! It is a fun movie. My favorite part is Donald playing hopscotch dressed as a little boy holding a giant lollipop. Also learn how to clean your mind! This is a must have. Since it's not available here, buy it at a store.