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Walt Disney Treasures - Silly Symphonies
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It is not my intent to author a history of Disney animation. However, a few facts will lead to a greater appreciation of this set. Disney started in the 20's with a character named Alice, that later developed into Mickey Mouse. Cartoons were all in b/w, and animation not as refined as in the 30s and 40s. From 1924 through 1926, Disney produced only Alice shorts. (Now THERE would be some real TREASURES if Disney ever released these toons! They've never been released commercially!) In 1927 and 28, Disney changed his primary character to Oswald, the Lucky Rabbit. These have also never been released. As 1929 drew to a close, other studios began releasing musical shorts - remember that sound with image only began in 1927 - and Walt was under pressure to produce a new product for theaters. One with color and sound. The Silly Symphony was born. Essentially, that's what Silly Symphonies are. They are a cartoon story to a musical soundtrack with almost no dialogue or verbal exchange.
The first Silly Symphonies were composed of simple themes - in fact, there were a set produced that dealt only with the seasons: Springtime and Summer came out in 1930, Fall and Winter came out in 1931. Other titles were Arctic Antics, Frolicking Fish and Monkey Melodies. The animation was nice, but the themes were simple. In 1931 as audiences tired of these simple themes, Disney had to produce something new again, so began the fairy tale editions of Silly Symphonies. Some of these ended up being the studio's best work!Read more ›
I doubt you can find better quality prints of any films dating back over 70 years - 99% of them look brand new. There are some fantastic classics on the disc, along with many Silly Symphonies I had never seen. Good to see some of the black and white cartoons aswell! Also, I haven't encountered a disc with so many "easter eggs" before, it's always nice to get free stuff!
The only minor points (or major points depending on your point of view) are the following. Firstly, although the many Maltin documentaries included are fairly interesting and informative I doubt I will ever return to them. It may be nit-picking, but I would have preferred a couple more cartoons in their place. (Perhaps some of the early silent Disney "Laugh-o-grams" cartoons on which many of the ideas for the Symphonies were first based).
Secondly, Disney publicity claims the disc is UNCUT, whilst many of the films have reissue titles (a minor point, but one which is not referred to) and The Three Little Pigs is still presented in it's 1940s censored version. (Although we do see a tiny clip of the original censored material Maltin talks over it - it's not presented as part of a whole cartoon - therefore is still esentially "censored").
As I said, probably minor points - Disney should still be applauded for the disc. I would have liked, however, to have seen interviews or heard commentaries from survivng Disney animators. They won't be around forever.
Perhaps other companies who hold classic Hollywood animation to ransom should take note, and start releasing uncut, uncensored DVDs to the adult market - a market which accepts these films for what they are, true art forms of the 20th Century.
In an interview on this DVD, Disney says that the Silly Symphonies were an arena for animators to experiment, without the financial risks of a feature length animated film. This format was a fertile field for the imagination. Artists who are free to take risks tend to produce more stunning work. "Wynken, Blynken and Nod" is a really beautiful cartoon that I had never seen before. It it packed with vivid colors and dynamic animation. The cloud men are impressive. "Water Babies" is very pretty and very funny. Each cartoon is a classic.
I mainly wanted this collection for "The Old Mill" and "Skeleton Dance." Those did not disappoint. I had not seen "The Old Mill" for years and it is as dramatic and perfect as I remember. "Skeleton Dance" is a spooky treat. "Wise Little Hen," the first Donald Duck cartoon, was an unexpected delight. I can see why the character took off.
There are some complaints about this DVD. Too many of the Leonard Maltin picks are duplicated elsewhere on the disk. They could have used the room to put in some more cartoons. The "Easter eggs" are easy to find, but may confuse people. Some older cartoons are scratchy. However, there is so much delight in the cartoons themselves, I don't mind the minor flaws. I'll say it again. This is a great DVD!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fine, except I was disappointed that it did not have "Merbabies" which I was told it contained, when I purchased it. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Lucia E. Gates
I almost purchased this DVDS but when reading the full description it states "will not play on vcr/DVDs made in America." Has anyone had this problem?Published 21 months ago by Ainokea
When I received this I was shocked to find that what I was getting was the Italian version of the DVD, not the US version like all of the other Walt Disney Treasures sets I had... Read morePublished on March 12, 2014 by K. Culbertson
This DVD is in Italian! I doesn't say this anywhere except for the warning that this will not play on most DVD players in the US.Published on February 7, 2014 by Lynn A Nevens
Grew up watching these and it's great to be able to share it with my kids. My kids love them!Published on February 7, 2014 by Blmtfish
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