Walt Disney Animation Collection Vol. 4-6 (a J!-ENT DVD Review)
May 11, 2009 by Dennis Amith
“For those who grew up with the classic Disney animated short films, the release of ‘Walt Disney Animation Collection’ on DVD is a long time coming. Classic Disney shorts such as ‘The Tortoise and the Hare’ (1935), ‘The Wind and the Willows’ (1949), ‘The Reluctant Dragon’ (1941) and many other timeless classics can be enjoyed by those who grew up with the animation and also a new generation who have never seen them before. “
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DVD TITLE: Walt Disney Animation Collection Vol. 4 (The Tortoise and the Hare), Vol. 5 (Wind and the Willows) and Vol. 6 (The Reluctant Dragon)
DURATION: Vol. 4: 65 Minutes, Vol. 5: 78 Minutes, Vol. 6: 62 Minutes
DVD INFORMATION: Dolby Digital Surround Sound, Aspect Ratio (1:33:1), English, French and Spanish Subtitles, Disney’s FastPlay
COMPANY: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: May 12, 2009
Produced by Walt Disney
Vol. 4: The Tortoise and the Hare
Walt Disney’s Academy Award®-winning adaptation of The Tortoise And The Hare (1934; Short Subject – Cartoons) is now part of the Disney Animation Collection series on DVD! Join the excitement as unlikely competitors Max Hare and Toby Tortoise challenge each other to a foot race. Max is so confident he will win, he takes time out to flirt with some cute bunnies, show off his skills in other sports and break for a nap. But when he hears the crowd roar for Toby, who has slowly and steadily kept to the course, Max must make a last-minute dash for victory. Will the
ever-persistent Toby beat him across the finish line?
Vol. 5 – Wind in the Willows
Experience the magic of Wind In The Willows in this extraordinary adaptation – now part of the Disney Animation Collection series of beloved classic short films. Join the adventures along the riverbanks as one of the most enchanting storybooks of all time comes to life with classic Disney animation. Mr. J. Thaddeus Toad has got himself into a bit of trouble – from buying fancy new cars and dealing with some weaselly weasels! Now his beloved home, Toad Manor, is at risk of being lost. It will take the help of his dear friends Ratty, Moley and Angus McBadger, and a promise to change his ways, for Mr. Toad.
Vol. 6 – The Reluctant Dragon
The Reluctant Dragon, a clever and entertaining short film, is now part of the Disney Animation Collection! This lighthearted story follows the adventures of a brave young boy who, emboldened by tales of brave knights, decides to pursue the horrible dragon that is terrifying the villagers. But what he discovers is a surprisingly friendly dragon that is more interested in reciting poetry and making music than devouring fair damsels. Will the boy be able to stop the local hero before he challenges the dragon to a fiery battle?
As a child, I can easily remember my prized possession was a Walt Disney book that my father purchased for me and it featured the chronology of the early classic Walt Disney animated shorts. Some of these shorts were shown on the Disney Channel when I was younger but suffice to say, with all the new animation, a lot of these classics have probably been forgotten or have been released on VHS video.
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment are now releasing a few of these shorts on DVD for the first time (some have appeared on past Disney DVD releases). With the first three volumes released, the fourth, fifth and sixth volumes will be released on May 12, 2009.
A lot of these short films were created in the 1920-1940′s and typically featured characters that were not reoccurring (with the exception of the tortoise and the hare which appeared in a second short). Some were released under the “Silly Symphony” moniker of animated shorts released between 1929-1939 which rarely featured any character dialogue but focused more on the animation accompanied by music and a singing vocal track.
Here are the episode listings and brief summaries for volumes 4-6:
Walt Disney Animation Collection Vol. 4 – The Tortoise and the Hare
The fourth volume of “The Tortoise and the Hare” includes a total of six animated shorts. Included are:
- The Tortoise and the Hare - (8:40) A Silly Symphony animated short from 1939 featuring the popular tale of the race between the tortoise and the hare.
- Babes in the Woods – (7:45) A Silly Symphony animated short from 1932 about two children and dwarfs who go against a wicked witch who has captured and turned children to animals.
- The Goddess of Spring - (9:36) A Silly Symphony animation from 1934 featuring the Goddess of Spring who is captured by the Devil and with her capture has turned the world into Winter.
- Toby Tortoise Returns - (7:32) a Silly Symphony animation from 1936 featuring another animated short starring Toby Tortoise and the Hare who are in a boxing match.
- Paul Bunyan – (17:07) a 1958 Technicolor animated short starring the tall lumberjack Paul Bunyan.
- The Saga of Windwagon Smith - (13:32) A 1961 Technicolor animated short featuring a Western animation about the adventures of Windwagon Smith.
Walt Disney Animation Collection Vol. 5: Wind in the Willows
The fifth volume of “Wind in the Willows” contains a total of six animated shorts. Included are:
- Wind in the Willows - (34:21) A 1949 Technicolor animated short which is over a half our long compared to the other shorts that are ten minutes long. In this short, Mr. J. Thaddeus Toad has gotten in trouble after buying fancy cars and dealing with bad company and now he risks losing his home. His friends Ratty, Moley and Angus MacBadger try to help him and hopefully change him along the way.
- The Ugly Duckling – (9:02) A 1938 Technicolor animated short based on the popular story of the “The Ugly Duckling”. A duck egg hatches late and unlike the other chicks which are yellow, this one is white. And the family rids itself of the white duck and the white duck is now left alone. Will anyone come to appreciate this duck?
- The Grasshopper and the Ants - (8:27) A 1934 Silly Symphony short that was featured on the “a bug’s life” 2-Disc DVD Collection in 2003 and is featured in the fifth volume of the “Walt Disney Animation Collection”. A grasshopper who likes to play his violin but ends up getting stuck in the middle of bad weather and during the bad weather, he is rescued by a colony of ants.
- The Golden Touch – (10:06) A 1935 Silly Symphony short about the greedy King Midas who has the golden touch and all he wants is gold and will learn an important lesson of how gold is not all that’s important in this world. This is one of the few “Silly Symphony” shorts that have actual dialogue.
- The Robber Kitten - (7:50) A 1935 Silly Symphony short about a kitten named Butch who wants to be a thief, he encounters a real thief named Dirty Bill and wants to be his sidekick but learns an important lesson that crime doesn’t pay.
- The Wise Little Hen – (7:44) A 1934 Silly Symphony short that introduced the Walt Disney character Donald Duck. A hen wants Donald Duck and a pig to help her plant some corn but the two pretend they are sick. So, the hen decides to temp the two by cooking corn dishes in hopes they would help her plant her corn.
Walt Disney Animation Collection Vol. 6: The Reluctant Dragon
The “Walt Disney Animation Collection” sixth volume features the least amount of shorts than previous volumes but each short featured in this volume is a bit longer in duration than most Walt Disney shorts. Also, unlike the older and shorter animated shorts, these shorts included in vol. 6 contain dialogue.
- The Reluctant Dragon - (20:38) This Technicolor 1994 animated short features a boy who is friends with a dragon. He finds out that the knight Sir Giles from his village has been sent to kill the dragon and that he should prepare to fight. But the dragon is reluctant to fight and prefers to read poetry and train birds to sing.
- Ferdinand the Bull - (7:59) A technicolor animated short from 1938 about a little bull in Spain named Ferdinand who prefers to be alone and be amongst the flowers in the pasture and not be with the other bulls. As he grew older, because he got stung by a bee, he is featured in a public bullfight in which he must fight a matador but once in front of the public, is unable to fight and instead enjoys the flowers around him.
- Goliath II - (15:07) A 1960 animated short about Goliath II, a tiny elephant that is not appreciated by his father because of his small stature. His mother protects him though, especially from a tiger named Raja who wants to eat Goliath II. Goliath II tends to get himself into trouble and is often rescued and scolded by his mother. Will Goliath II ever earn the respect from his father and the elephant herd?
- Johnny Appleseed – (18:41) A 1948 animated short about the legendary Johnny Appleseed who traveled the West with the American pioneers and planted apple seeds during his travel. Based on the true adventures of John Chapman who traveled the wilderness planting thousands of apple trees.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“Walt Disney Animation Collection” is featured with an aspect ratio of 1:33:1. These classics are available on DVD for the first time but its important to mention that these animated shorts have not been digitally remastered or cleaned up.
As a matter of fact, you will see a lot of the dust and scratches of the film and some of the animation look fine for being nearly 70 years old but others look grainy and a bit aged. Granted, these are not classic full featured films but I hope one of these days, many of these classics do get cleaned up or even digitally remastered.
As for the audio, audio is featured in Dolby Digital Surround Sound. I found that on my home theater system, the best selection on my receiver to view these animated shorts was to switch it to mono or (if you have this capability) select stereo for all channels.
There are no special features included on this DVD. But each volume does come with a free collectible litho print.
As mentioned earlier in my review, my prized possession as a child was a Walt Disney booklet that covered the Walt Disney animated shorts in chronological order and had the opportunity to watch these classics. Now as an adult with children, a lot of the animation from Walt Disney that my child sees is the latest in CG animation.
But I wanted him to sit and watch these animated shorts with me and sure enough, he enjoyed them. These animated shorts, the majority of them are simple and have no dialogue. Just music and sound effects (there were a few especially all from vol. 6 that have dialogue) but nevertheless, are simple and easy to understand.
For fans of classic Walt Disney animation and you pretty much have moved on away from your VHS copies, the “Walt Disney Animation Collection” is a great collection of your classic Disney animated shorts on DVD.
Many people who have purchased the “Walt Disney Treasures” DVD box sets from 2001, “Walt Disney’s Timeless Tales” from 2005 or the “Walt Disney’s It’s a Small World of Fun!” DVD release from 2007 probably may not need any of these shorts as quite a number of them have appeared on DVD already.
But a few of the short films that are featured on the six volumes of “Walt Disney Animation Collection” have not been released on DVD until now.
Overall, It all comes down to your preference to the classic animated shorts from long ago and whether or not you owned previous releases. For those who haven’t owned the previous Disney DVD shorts or box sets, now is a good time to start because a lot of the past releases have been discontinued.
Otherwise, if you are a person who already owns the previous DVD releases that contain these shorts, unfortunately, these animated shorts offer nothing new and are not digitally remastered. There may be a few titles on these DVD’s that have not been released before on prior Walt Disney DVD’s but it all comes down to your preference and if these episodes are worth having on DVD.
But if you are a parent or grandparent who wants to show your children or grandchildren the Walt Disney animation that you grew up with or a person who has never seen these shorts and have been curious about them, then definitely give “Walt Disney Animation Collection” a chance.
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