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Walt Disney Treasures - Mickey Mouse in Black and White

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment // Unrated // December 3, 2002
List Price: $32.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Todd Siechen | posted January 7, 2003 | E-mail the Author
The earliest Mickey Mouse cartoons were groundbreaking cinema of the time because they used a very new piece of the film experience - sound. Sound brought Mickey Mouse fame and recognition where none had experienced it before. Walts creation was at the right place at the right time. While these early Mickey cartoons could certainly be considered simplistic by todays standards, they still manage to entertain as they did 75 years ago. Mickey Mouse is without a doubt the most widely recognized and famous cartoon character of all time. He went from being an animated creation to a corporate symbol for the Disney empire.

At an early age I was not very interested in Mickey Mouse. I was mach more interested in watching the Warner Brothers stuff with Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. The Mickey cartoons really don't make me laugh, but they are still fun to watch and almost always make me smile. While most of the cartoons here I have seen before, there are quite a few I had never seen aired on television before. Many of them are very elaborate and complex showing very clear acting and demonstrating excellence in the art of animation. There is even a cartoon with some 3D animation in it! Imagine my surprise to find 3D animation from the 1930's. While certainly not computer generated of course, it shows tremendous techincal achievement for a cartoon created over 70 years ago.

A few of the cartoons have introductions by Leonard Maltin explaining some of the content as it could be considered offensive in todays climate. He goes on to say thats it's more important to watch and try to understand the times as they existed for what they were rather than lock them away. Also of note is the prevalence of violence in these cartoons. Guns, fighting, and war are some of the things depicted and of course treated usually with a great deal of levity, I'm sure they could still find an offended audience somewhere.

The picture quality isn't bad, but there is a noticeable amount of dust and stains in the prints. This could have easily been digitally removed and given us very clean cartoons, but perhaps it is more in keeping with the spirit to leave them in to remind us of the medium of the day.

Disc 1
20 Black & White Mickey Mouse cartoons; "The Birthday Party", "Blue Rhythm", "The Chain Gang", "The Duck Hunt", "The Fire Fighter", "The Gallopin' Gaucho", "The Gorilla Mystery", "The Karnival Kid", "The Klondike Kid", "Mickey Cuts Up", "Mickey Steps Out", "Mickey's Follies", "Mickey's Nightmare", "Mickey's Orphans", "Mickey's Revue", "Pioneer Days", "Plane Crazy", "Steamboat Willie", "Touchdown Mickey", "The Whoopee Party". These are the very early Mickey Mouse cartoons where "rubber hose" limbs were common and a lot of music was used.

"Frank and Ollie...and Mickey" - Loenard Maltin interviews Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnson, two of the early pioneering animators for Walt Disney studios. This is truly a treasure to have this discussion on DVD as these two legendary men will not be with us much longer. They have given us so much laughter, joy and so many magical moments in animated film making. As an animator myself, I have great respect, affection and admiration for these two icons of American animation.

Story Scripts - These are early storyboard scripts where a description accompanies a drawing to describe the action to take place. Later the fully storyboard was to replace this method. We get the full story scripts for "Steamboat Willie" and "Mickey Steps out".

Story Sketch Sequences - Storyboards for 7 of the cartoons. These are the first sketched used as storyboards in animation. The invention of pinning story point drawings onto a board in a comic-book style in order to refine a story was the idea of Walt Disney.

Captions for the cartoons in english are included on both discs.

Disc 2
14 Black & White Mickey Mouse cartoons; "Building a Building", "Camping Out", "The Dognapper", "Giantland", "Gulliver Mickey", "The Mad Doctor", "The Mail Pilot", "Mickey's Gala Premiere", Mickey's Service Station", "Orphan's Benefit", "The Pet Store", "Puppy Love", "Two-Gun Mickey", "Ye Olden Days". These later cartoons become much more elaborate and involved showing us how far the animators and story men have come in those early years between the late 20's and early 30's. We are also treated to some early renditions of Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto.

Story Sketch Sequences - Storyboards for 13 of the cartoons. These are the first sketched used as storyboards in animation. The invention of pinning story point drawings onto a board in a comic-book style in order to refine a story was the idea of Walt Disney.

Poster Gallery
An audio accompanied series of posters for early promotion of Mickey Mouse cartoons. An explanation and story of each poster is given by Leonard Maltin. There are 21 posters in all.

In an age where children are bombarded with thousands of cartoon choices every day, it may be difficult to get them to watch and enjoy a Mickey Mouse cartoon. The irony is that Mickey Mouse cartoons were never really designed for kids, they were created to entertain mainstream audiences of all ages. This collection of 34 wonderful Mickey Mouse cartoons is surely a must-have for any animation lover, but will certainly find new audiences among todays population. I feel very lucky to have such a wonderful treasure in my collection and look forward to obtaining the color version soon. Highly Recommended.
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