Walt Disney Treasures: Silly Symphonies - The Historic Musical Animated Classics
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When "The Skeleton Dance," the first of 75 Silly Symphony cartoon shorts, was released in 1929, it proved there was a market for conceptual cartoons that didn't contain familiar story lines and characters.
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 SolomonSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
The menus take some effort to negotiate - contrary to what is claimed elsewhere, some of the easter eggs are difficult to find.Read more ›
There are a couple of quibbles to be had, though. Some of the most interesting shorts on these discs can only be found as Easter Eggs, that is, they don't really appear on the menu as chapters, but have to be found pretty much by accident. It's rather annoying at times trying to remember which Easter Egg leads to which film.
Also, despite the blurb on the back of the package, these films are not entirely uncensored. The version of the Three Little Pigs on this disc is an altered version. In the original release, the Big Bad Wolf appears in disguise as an unfortunate Jewish peddler stereotype. For this release, the soundtrack of the sequence has been retained, but the footage of the wolf in disguise has been replaced with newer footage which removes the supposedly anti-semitic material. It isn't especially well-done, either: in fact it sticks out like a sore thumb.
These are minor quibbles. Disney is to be congratulated on releasing a lot of these films, in spite of the possibly rather dangerous content of a few of them. Each day I expect to open the paper and find that the disc has been pulled from distribution because some loony in some backwater has decided that the short Water Babies, a harmless and plotless film which centers upon a group of nude infant boys, [is offensive] and decides to sue.
As far as I am concerned, it is worth the price of the entire set to have a pristine DVD of Who Killed Cock Robin?, which is one of the very best and most audacious films Disney ever released. The caricature of assorted Hollywood personalities is dead on, and I always laugh at Jenny Wren's Mae West-like flirting with the judge.
Get this disk. You won't be disappointed.
Most recent customer reviews
I had always wanted to own all of the Silly Symphonies, I loved watching them as a child when they were shown on Family Channel. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Kimberley
The packaging and pricing of this collection imply that you're buying a true "treasury" of early animation -- but really this is a "best of" collection, with some... Read morePublished on Jan. 26 2014 by J. Schacker
Thanks to Leonard Maltin, we're able to re-live our youth AND appreciate the golden age of character animation, all in one treasures set. Read morePublished on March 31 2011 by Ariel Villaverde
Essential - and enjoyable. Fantastic animation from the people who basically wrote the book on animated shorts. Read morePublished on Jan. 9 2004 by cowboybawb
I could hardly belive that i could at last obtain such a treasury of Disney shorts, and so many that i had not seen before. Read morePublished on Oct. 25 2002 by Peter Harvatt Robinson
This is a wonderful DVD set. I'm hoping that they will release the rest of the Silly Symphony Series in the near future. Read morePublished on Oct. 19 2002
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