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Walt Disney Treasures - Silly Symphonies

4.3 out of 5 stars 82 customer reviews

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(Dec 04, 2001)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This groundbreaking series of 31 uncensored cartoons, released between 1929 and 1939, includes six Academy Award(R) winners and provides an astonishing look inside the evolution of animation. Each boasting a unique cast of characters, these musical shorts served as Walt Disney's proving ground for emerging technology, new musical styles, and experimental forms. In addition to the cartoons themselves, join Academy Award(R)-winning composer Richard M. Sherman (MARY POPPINS) for an overview of the "Silly Symphony" series, and take a peek inside the Disney archives to view some rare and remarkable merchandise, conceptual art, and theatrical posters. Enjoy a nostalgic look back at the original musical shorts that launched a revolution in the world of animation. Featuring exclusive introductions by film historian Leonard Maltin, this is a timeless collection from generations past for generations to come.


In 1928, when Walt Disney's artists completed "The Skeleton Dance," the distributor of the Mickey Mouse shorts rejected the first "Silly Symphony" with a two-word telegram: "MORE MICE." Disney arranged to screen "Skeleton Dance" at the Carthay Circle Theater in Los Angeles, where it received an enthusiastic response, and the series took off. Seven "Silly Symphonies" won Academy Awards, beginning with "Flowers and Trees." Disney used these musically themed shorts to train young artists and test new styles, effects, and technologies: every film represented an innovation of some sort. In "Three Little Pigs," characters who looked alike demonstrated different personalities through the way they moved. "The Old Mill" showcased the newly invented Multiplane camera. The Sugar Cookie Girl in "Cookie Carnival" was one of several female characters the artists created while learning to animate a believable heroine for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The well-chosen selections in this set demonstrate how quickly Disney advanced the art of animation during the '30s. Only eight years separate the crude black-and-white version of "The Ugly Duckling" (1931) from the moving Technicolor Oscar-winner of 1939. Over 60 years later, these films have lost none of their charm. The jazz-dancing insects in "Woodland Café," the wonderfully animated caricature of Mae West in "Who Killed Cock Robin," and the instrument-characters in "Music Land" remain as delightful as ever. Leonard Maltin makes a genial host, and two hidden cartoons include Walt's introductions from the old Disneyland program. --Charles Solomon

Special Features

  • Only 150,000 sets issued
  • Disc One
  • Fables and Fairy Tales (9 cartoons)
  • Favorite Characters (5 cartoons)
  • Leonard's Picks (6 cartoons)
  • Disc Two
  • Accent on Music (7 cartoons)
  • Nature on the Screen (10 cartoons)
  • Leonard's Picks (4 cartoons)
  • See below for complete list of cartoons
  • Supplemental Features
  • "The Song of the Silly Symphonies"  Leonard Maltin and Composer Richard Sherman
  • "Silly Symphonies Souvenirs"  Leonard Maltin and Dave Smith of the Disney Archives
  • Still Gallery
  • Easter Eggs

Product Details

  • Actors: Billy Bletcher, Pinto Colvig, Dorothy Compton, Mary Moder, Eddie Holden
  • Directors: Ben Sharpsteen, Burt Gillett, Clyde Geronimi, David Hand, Graham Heid
  • Format: Animated, Box set, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Walt Disney Video
  • DVD Release Date: December 4, 2001
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005KARF
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,413 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Walt Disney Treasures - Silly Symphonies" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Before I obtained this DVD set, I had high expectations. I had seen some of the Mickey Mouse In Living Color set, and was enthrolled at the gorgeous color and clearity of the pictures. Not to mention sound with no hiss or other pollutants. The Silly Symphony DVD set did not disappoint.
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!
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Format: DVD
With more than five hours of material, this "Silly Symphonies" collection remains the best of the limited-edition "Walt Disney Treasures" series. The two-DVD set includes some of the finest animated shorts in pristine condition - notably "The Skeleton Dance" (1929), "Flowers and Trees" (1932), "The Three Little Pigs" (1933), "Music Land" (1935) and "The Old Mill" (1937). For cartoon buffs, the "Silly Symphonies" package is a must-have. For the uninitiated, it is the perfect introduction to Disney's early work.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Whatever the outcome of Disney's current copyright entangles you cannot argue that the company doesn't take care of it's property.
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.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
While I was extremely happy to view these cartoons again, including some that I've been trying to find for years, I couldn't help wondering "Where's the rest?" I had other silly symphony cartoons on VHS from the mid 80's, but they were not on this release. "Merbabies", "The Old China Shop", "The Moth and the Flame", etc. Why were these omitted, or is there a volume 2 to be released? For those looking for Lambert and Ferdinand, they are available on other DVD releases. So, why 3 stars? Seven (count 'em, 7) of the cartoons on this set are hidden. This is deplorable. I thought I had a defective copy when the list of cartoons did not match the menu. (The list IS inacurrate - Maltin's picks are messed up for disc 1) Finally I noticed that the cursor would sometimes end up in a weird place, so I clicked and...there was Walt himself. Seeing the original intros from the TV series was great, but what's the deal with the "Easter Eggs"? Stop playing games Disney Studios and release ALL of this material and keep it available (I had to purchase this DVD from an alternate source) and DON'T HIDE THE SELECTIONS!!!!
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