In the 1950s, Disney produced a host of short nature films that were groundbreaking both for their innovative perspective, combining fantasy with real-life nature photography, and their development and reliance on huge technological advances in cameras and filmmaking. Secrets of Life
, digitally restored 16-mm films retrieved from the Disney archives, are two of the first live-action shorts to offer an up-close and in-depth look at the life cycles of animals, insects, and plants.
The photography of Secrets of Life
is stunning to this day, offering an incredible time-lapse look at flowers opening, close-up shots of honeybees pollinating flowers and reproducing within the hive, and even footage of a volcano erupting. Even more amazing is the scientific understanding gained through that photography: knowledge of the secrets of adaptation and self preservation of plants, the disparate functions of bees within a colony, and the restorative function of an erupting volcano. While Perri
is based on a fictional story about a precocious young squirrel, the depiction of the life and death struggle of squirrel, marten, beaver, and a host of other critters that live in Wildwood Heart is absolutely real and faithfully photographed. Academy Award-winning Nature's Half Acre
portrays the delicate balance of nature and the timeless cycle of seasons complete with birds building their nests, voracious caterpillars eating everything in sight, and a look at the carnivorous Venus Flytrap. Almost as noteworthy as the photography in all of these shorts is the carefully composed music that mirrors the onscreen actions of everything from the tapping of a woodpecker to the jerky jumps of pond frogs. A huge assortment of bonus tracks feature Roy Disney and others discussing everything from the scientist photographers involved in the sometimes yearslong filming of these nature films, to the major technological advances in photographic equipment that these films necessitated, the incredible logistics involved in filming, and a look back at the life of writer, director, and narrator Winston Hibler. Both important pieces of filmmaking history and a great selection of nature programming, the Disney True Life Adventures
series DVDs come in unique collectors tins reminiscent of the stored reels of film in Disney's archives. --Tami Horiuchi
Experience the wonder of Walt Disney's groundbreaking nature series for the first time on DVD! These acclaimed stories, fully restored to their original beauty, offer previously unseen looks into the magical world of our animal friends. Enjoy NATURE'S MYSTERIES, the fourth volume of Disney's award-winning TRUE-LIFE ADVENTURES. Explore some of the world's most fascinating natural phenomena in the amazing films "Secrets of Life," "Perri" and many more. It's classic Disney live-action shorts at their finest!