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.
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.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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?
4. 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.