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Walt Disney Treasures: Silly Symphonies - The Historic Musical Animated Classics

Sara Berner , Billy Bletcher , Ben Sharpsteen , Burt Gillett    DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 207.13
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Product Description

Product Description

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 Solomon

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Sumptuous Disc, perhaps too much talk. Feb. 28 2002
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Sparkling, Little-Seen Disney Gems Are a Must! Feb. 16 2002
I am very pleased with thise remarkable DVD set, which include some of Disney's finest work from the early part of his career, the films he created in the thirties prior to moving into feature length works, and which the public of the present day are likely to be the least familiar with. A number of these films can be thought of as Disney's "test tubes" - experimental efforts in both animation technology and narrative form that would lay the foundation for Disney's later efforts. Though I've caught glimpses of some of the Silly Symphonies over the years, this is the first opportunity I've had to take a good look at many of these shorts. Simply, I was astonished; indeed, quite a few of these gems blew my socks off, displaying the sort of ingenuity, artistry and charm that, more lately, we've come to associate with the likes of Pixar features. (Needless to say, I would love to see Pixar try to recreate one of these in their own animation format - perhaps "Musicland" or "The Cookie Carnival") These films have a remarkable individuality and presence that was lost to some of the later Disney features, when Disney, busy with amusement parks, television and the tasks of empire building, relegated animation to a lesser perch. These films represent Disney as a brilliant, ambitious student, learning his craft, before he became "Disney" the business man with his carefully honed commercial instincts. Disney was never more innovative than during this period he was making Silly Symphonies in the thirties - and you can see his progress unfold before your eyes on these DVDs.
The menus take some effort to negotiate - contrary to what is claimed elsewhere, some of the easter eggs are difficult to find.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Set!! Feb. 11 2002
An excellent DVD, well worth owning for anyone interested in Disney animation. The transfers are, for the most part, excellent.
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.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Found them, at last
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 more
Published 5 months ago by Kimberley
4.0 out of 5 stars great quality DVDs but this is NOT a full collection of Silly...
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 more
Published 8 months ago by J. Schacker
5.0 out of 5 stars Classics is too weak a word for these
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 more
Published on March 31 2011 by Ariel Villaverde
5.0 out of 5 stars something missing?
But where is Ferdinand and the Santa Claus Workshop?
Published on June 10 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential for any animation fan
Essential - and enjoyable. Fantastic animation from the people who basically wrote the book on animated shorts. Read more
Published on Jan. 9 2004 by cowboybawb
5.0 out of 5 stars Silly Symphonies are wonderful!
Great DVD for the entire family!
Published on June 18 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars My disbelief at being able to own such a collection.
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 more
Published on Oct. 25 2002 by Peter Harvatt Robinson
5.0 out of 5 stars Easter Eggs Too
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 more
Published on Oct. 19 2002
I didn't give it a second look. I had to buy it! These are some of the finnest animation ever made. These are true classics! Read more
Published on Aug. 17 2002 by Paulo Leite
1.0 out of 5 stars a disney disaster
A terrible dvd from the cheapskates at Disney. Many of the cartoons are impossible to find and the directions are of no help. Read more
Published on July 21 2002 by A. Grossman
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