WALT DISNEY TREASURES - MICKEY MOUSE IN LIVING COLOUR
Region 2 (UK) Edition
Review by Andrew Smith
Well, after a long wait R2 are finally able
to enjoy the Disney Treasure sets that fans over the pond have had
available for some time. Was it worth the wait? Yes, actually. For any
fans of the house of mouse this set is a must.
Mickey needs no introduction; there is
barely a country on the planet where he is not recognisable, a symbol of
determination and the American dream. It was these colour cartoons of the
thirties that cemented him as a cultural icon, and the pioneering years of
1935-38 are represented in their entirety (twenty-seven shorts) on this
wonderful two disk set.
The first thing of note is that the tin in
which the standard DVD case is enclosed is much larger than the R1
version. While this might cause some trouble in regards to storage space
there is no need to worry about the disks getting banged around loose
inside. Once the tin is opened it is obviously some care has gone into
this design; an imitation felt lining keeps everything in place and adds a
touch of extra class.
Disk one opens with an introduction by film
historian Leonard Maltin, while this is very interesting it can be skipped
through, taking the viewer directly to the main menu. As far as I can tell
the menu design is identical to its R1 counterpart: the main reason for
this seeming the case is the American spelling of “color”. Although
simple, the menus are certainly charming, and retain the style of these
early shorts. Each page has a different piece of music from one of the
cartoons, only serving to heighten the period feeling.
The Cartoons can be viewed as one through a
Play All function, or, alternatively, accessed individually via
menus which separate them into different years.
The shorts for disk one are as follows:
The Band Concert, Mickey's Garden,
On Ice, Pluto's Judgement Day, Mickey's Fire Brigade
Thru the Mirror, Mickey's Circus,
Mickey's Elephant, Mickey's Grand Opera, Mickey's Polo
Team, Alpine Climbers, Moving Day, Orphan's Picnic,
While they may no longer be laugh-out-loud
funny to most, the cartoons still hold all of the charm, innovation and
warmth that Walt Disney personally injected into each. Despite being
almost seventy years old the quality of the Technicolor film prints is
amazing, with only minor dirt and some slight image flicker evident. Very
acceptable, and obviously much improved over the versions you will have
seen on television over the years.
An interesting extra on this disk is The
Parade of Award Nominees. Made especially for the 1934 Academy awards
this never-before-available short actually features the first colour film
appearance of Mickey Mouse, beating the generally accepted Band Concert
to the post.
The other extra on this disk is possibly
the highlight of the set. Walt Disney Studios were the first animation
studio to use pencil tests during production. The rough drawings were used
to tighten the story and improve the flow of each film, and it is great to
see three tests in their entirety, available via their own menu, or by
using the angle button on your remote, allowing you to switch between
finished animation and the tests.
Disk two covers up until 1938:
Hawaiian Holiday, Moose Hunters,
The Worm Turns, Magician Mickey, Mickey's Amateurs,
Clock Cleaners, Lonesome Ghosts
Mickey's Parrot, Boat Builders,
The Whalers, Mickey's Trailer, The Brave Little Tailor
The main extra on this disk is a
featurette, again hosted by Leonard Maltin, that discusses Mickey’s
transition to colour, and the impact it had on him as a star. Very
enjoyable, if a little brief, this documentary benefits from the input of
original animator Ward Kimball.
Also here is a gallery of rough sketches
and poster art.
Highlights from both of the disks include
The Band Concert, Mickey’s first colour theatrical cartoon, On
Ice, which features all of the early Disney characters bar Pete, and
Mickey’s Trailer which makes me laugh every time I see it, when
Goofy attempts to eat in the cramped confines of the caravan.
However, purists beware, although the set
is advertised as unedited there some dialogue editing in The Clock
Cleaners. This is on the Region One set as well. It is a very minor
change, only really resulting in the loss of one Donald line.
Finally there are two Hidden Mickey’s
(Easter Eggs to me and you) that can be found as follows:
SPOILER [Click and
drag to read]
Disk One: Disk One:
On the Main Menu highlight the Play All
feature and press the right button on the remote to highlight Mickey's
head. Press enter.
You will be treated to an extract from an
archive Disneyland television show in which Walt discusses the mouse that
made him famous. This features possibly his most famous quote, “I hope we
never loose sight of one thing. That this was all started by a mouse”.
On the main menu use the up button on your
remote to highlight a hidden Mickey head. Press enter
promotional cartoon for the Nabisco biscuit company makes this set of
cartoons complete. Rarely seen in this unedited form, Mickey’s Surprise
Party is put into context by an introduction from Leonard Maltin.
This set is definitely worth buying. While
it isn’t packed full of special features it does represent good value for
money at £19.99 RRP for twenty-seven cartoons, plus some very snazzy, if
limited, bonus material.