Walt Disney Treasures: More Silly Symphonies
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From the beginning, Walt Disney's SILLY SYMPHONIES series was a mecca for innovation and unabashed creativity. This second volume of the revolutionary series boasts some of Disney's rarest cartoons, including over a dozen never before released on DVD or video. Among the many animation treasures celebrated here are the never-before-released HELL'S BELLS and the original unedited MOTHER GOOSE GOES HOLLWYOOD, plus the Academy Award(R)-winning THREE ORPHAN KITTENS (Best Cartoon, 1935). Enriching the collection even further are several optional commentaries by some of the world's foremost animation and film music experts, who also take part in a lively conversation about the series that let Walt Disney push the envelope of animation art to unimaginable flights of fantasy. Featuring exclusive introductions by film historian Leonard Maltin, this is a timeless collection from generations past for generations to come.
The second set of Silly Symphonies completes the series of music-themed cartoons Walt Disney began in 1929 with "The Skeleton Dance." Disney used these films to train his artists and to experiment with new techniques and visual styles. Viewers who watch the Symphonies in chronological order can see the artists' work improving at an astonishing pace. When a ring of imps dances around a fire in "Hell's Bells" (1929) the flat-looking flames move stiffly, like paper cut-outs; five years later in "The Goddess of Spring" (1934), the flames ripples and crackle, and their changing hues produce multi-colored shadows on the cavern walls. The imps in the earlier film are rubbery golliwogs who just bounce and stretch to the music; in the later film, the rounder, more dimensional devilkins perform a complicated jazz dance. "Goddess of Spring" and "Broken Toys" (1935) also represent the artists' first efforts to animate a believable female character, as they prepared for the challenges of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
Many of these films were consigned to the vaults for years because of their racial imagery. In the Oscar-nominated "Mother Goose Goes Hollywood" (1938), a gaggle of Hollywood celebrities cavort to familiar nursery rhymes, but the caricatures of Stepin Fetchit and Cab Calloway are no more unflattering or mean-spirited than the ones of Katharine Hepburn, W.C. Fields, and Clark Gable. The outrageous "Cannibal Capers" (1930) and a few other shorts may embarrass viewers today, but as host Leonard Maltin observes, ignoring these film falsifies the past of animation and the United States. This important and entertaining collection will delight anyone interested in the history of the Disney Studio, animation or American popular culture. (Rated G, suitable for ages 5 and older: cartoon violence, tobacco use, ethnic stereotypes) --Charles Solomon
- "Silly Symphonies Rediscovered" featurette
- "Animators at Play" featurette
- Art galleries
- Commentary on select shorts
- Packaged in a collectible tin
- 8-page booklet with notes
- Color photo card
- Certificate of authenticity
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Back in the 1950's, Walk Disney had many of the earlier Silly Symphonies title cards replaced with cheesy ones featuring a big Mickey Mouse head. He did this because the early Disney shorts were distributed through other studios. Now that he owned all the distribution rights, he didn't want any other studio name to be seen on his films (Columbia, RKO, etc). In case you didn't know, a title card is the first thing that pops up in the short. It announces the title, the credits, production year, etc. The 1950's replacements were pretty plain. Many purists, myself included, prefer to see the original title cards, to put them in an historical context. They also make the opening of the short different, as the correct ones set you up for what you are about to see. It's kinda weird seeing a big Mickey Mouse head drawn in the 1950's, followed by a cartoon with 1928 animation.
Anyway, when this set was first released, Disney announced that it had corrected all the 1950's-era title cards, and given every short their original title card, as when each short was first released. This didn't quite happen. After many fans complained, Disney fixed the problem, restoring all the original title cards....but only through replacement discs. They did not correct the ones already packaged. So, if you DO want the corrected discs, you must contact Disney, and they will replace them for free.
In the end, it might not be something that many will care about, but i noticed it, and it's so much more fun to watch these as they are supposed to be viewed. The 1950's changes aren't quite as bad as Greedo shooting first, but i like to see films as they were originally created.
The first disc contains 21 shorts including some very rare and politically incorrect cartoons. The shorts are presented here unedited with one containing two endings to show how it was changed to appease cry babies! The bonus material mainly consist of commentaries for a lot of the shorts and of course we get the standard galleries for many of these fine cartoons.
Disc two has the remaining 17 shorts and bonus commentaries and galleries as well. This is another essential set for animation and Disney fans and while this set doesn't have as many bells and whistles, it does a good job of presenting the shorts with minimal artifacts and wear. If you love the Treasures series than this is a set you shouldn't pass up. One important note is that this set was released with many of the sets not containing the original openings/title cards. Disney will send you the corrected discs for free if you call them at 1 800 723 4763.
Hell's Bells (1929)
Arctic Antics (1930)
Playfull Pan (1930)
The Cat's Out (1931)
The Clock Store (1931)
The Fox Hunt (1931)
The Spider and the Fly (1931)
The Bears and Bees (1930)
The Bird Store (1932)
Bugs In Love (1932)
Frolicking Fish (1932)
Monkey Melodies (1932)
Cannibal Capers (1930)
Cannibal Capers (with. Origianl Ending)
El Terrible Toreador (1929)
The Merry Dwarfs (1929)
Midnight In a Toy Shop (1930)
Birds In the Spring (1933)
The Night Before Christmas (1933)
Old King Cole (1933)
The Pied Piper (1933)
The Goddess of Spring (1934)
Cock O' the Walk (1935)
Three Blind Mouseketeers (1936)
Little Hiawatha (1937)
Moth and the Flame (1938)
King Neptune (1932)
Santa's Workshop (1932)
The China Shop (1934)
Broken Toys (1935)
Three Orphan Kittens (1935)
More Kittens (1936)
Mother Goose Goes Hollywood (1938)
Disney can be so coniving in the way they withold their greatest treasures to increase the demand-- to the point where some children grow up never having seen Pinocchio. When they do finally release something, they ought to let you know what is it that's being released.
Re the title of my review. I so wish the Disney organization would do more to publicize these cartoon gems and to make more people aware of them. As it stands, if you know about these cartoons, you are one in 10,000 people! Also, this "once in 10 years limited edition" business is certainly not helping either. Video software is not likely to become a collectible in the long run, as new formats are invented.
I so appreciate Leonard Maltin's role in this. He is a true old film buff, and has done a wonderful job with popularizing 1930's films!