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. 5: Wind in the Willows
The fifth volume of "Wind in the Willows" contains a total of six animated shorts. Included are:
1. 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.
2. 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?
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
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.
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.