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Walt Disney Treasures - Mickey Mouse in Black and White
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Witness the birth of an American icon. This historic compilation chronicles Mickey Mouse's early career, from his landmark debut in 1928's "Steamboat Willie" to the last of his black-and-white shorts, "Mickey's Service Station," in 1935. Gain insights into Mickey's beginnings in new interviews with legendary Disney animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston. See the earliest visuals on record showing the creative birth of animation's most historically significant cartoon as well as the only black-and-white cartoon pencil footage known to exist. All of this and more is revealed in this homage to the mouse who captured the imagination of the world. Featuring exclusive introductions by film historian Leonard Maltin, this is a timeless collection from generations past for generations to come.
In these cartoons released between 1928 and 1935, Walt Disney created one of the icons of 20th-century culture. Disney's reputation was built on these early shorts, and the films shimmer with the energy of the young artists exploring the new medium of the sound cartoon. Watching the films in chronological order enables the viewer to see the remarkable progress Walt and his crew made in animation, storytelling, and acting in just seven years. The rambunctious, rubbery Mickey of "Plane Crazy" and "Steamboat Willie" quickly developed into the polished charmer of "Gulliver Mickey" and "Mickey's Orphans." More than 70 years after his debut, the black and white Mickey still displays the appeal that made him so popular during the '30s, when A Mickey Mouse Cartoon appeared on theater marquees with the feature titles, and his fans included Franklin Roosevelt, Mary Pickford, George V of England, the Nizam of Hyderabad--and the more than one million children who joined the first Mickey Mouse Club.
Although it's fun to look at the old sketches and pencil tests, the high point of the supplementary material is the discussion host Leonard Maltin conducts with Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, the last surviving members of the justly celebrated "Nine Old Men" of Disney animation. Thomas and Johnston were nearly 90 at the time of the interview, but their enthusiasm for their work, for Mickey, and for the man who made it all possible remains undimmed. (Unrated; suitable for all ages: cartoon violence) --Charles SolomonSee all Editorial Reviews
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The first attempt to made animation was Mickey Mouse (with silent cartoons (Plane Crazy and Galloping Gaucho)), but it was ignored by the public... then Walt Disney had a great idea!, what if the make sound cartoons? (in a almost speechless era in the movies), and he released "Steamboat Willie" that was a big hit in 1928 (Ub Iwerks almost did all the animation for those shorts), from here, Mickey Mouse was a big star, and Felix the Cat and Oswald were straight to the bottom.
The earlier MM cartoons are a little "surreal" and with some "weird humor" (they were similar to the Felix the Cat shorts..., in these shorts, you can expect some Political Incorrect stuff (like MM torturing animals, or some black faces characters, so parental discression is warned), but affortunatelly, in thos non-PC short, you get a disclaimer from Leonard Maltin.
The DVD review: The remastering of those shorts are good (but could be better... perhaps couldn't be perfect because those shorts are almost 70 years old), the sound is good, but you must not expect a Dolby surround 5.1 (considering the age of the cartoons), the amount of the short are good, but could be better (the second disk only have 2 pages of shorts, while the goofy collection have 4), the extras are good (an interview with Frank and Ollie (animators from the Disney era), some picture galleries) but the best feature of the DVD are the shorts themselves; in the foreign language support, only english audio and closed caption in english (some spanish subtitles would be good, but i guess that the WD treasures are intended for the US market only :( )
This is a great DVD for all the animation fans outthere (like me), but maybe the kids will find it boring; if you find this DVD in stock somewhere, don't hesitate and buy it (because there where only 125000 copies)
The Iwerks-drawn wierdness of "The Karnival Kid" justifies the purchase of these discs alone. I regret the absence of a "Play All" option but I can see how its omission is justified to prevent the use of this material as electronic babyminder fodder. I have no trouble with the social attitudes and understand many of the jokes of the 1920's/30's but certainly our attitudes about race have changed (I hope) and Al Jolson isn't the easily recognisable stereotype he was when still alive....Leonard Maltin's explanatory announcements before cartoons that would offend the offendable are crystal clear even to those of heightened offensitivity, and preferable to just consigning these cartoons to the bin of history.
If I have a criticism it is that they are not generally available in the uk (all should have the chance to see these).
An especial treat is to see "Steamboat Willie" with a sequence not normally seen, it wasn't on the VHS issue of 1982, and despite being featured in an Ub Iwerks documentary had been excised from the copy of the cartoon that followed the documentary!
Buy it. Its like will not be seen again otherwise, and that would be a crying shame.