Walt Disney Treasures - Behind the Scenes at Walt Disney Studio
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment // Unrated // $32.99 // December 3, 2002
Review by Todd Siechen | posted January 13, 2003
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When I first saw this DVD I assumed it would have the old Walt Disney shows of Walt talking directly to the audience. I rarely watched these shows and figured this one would therefore be somewhat uninteresting - boy was I wrong! I have seen all the bonus features and cool behind the scenes for modern 3D animated features from Pixar and Pacific Data Images where they show the process of creating an animated film, but to see the earliest origins of this same process is truly a gift. We get to see the animators acting out their characters and sketching, background artists, gag men, sound wizards as well as storyboard meetings and the pretty colorist girls. If I seem a bit sentimental about this it's because I am an animator and have specific interest in the process of animated movie making. If you are the kind of person who owns every Disney animation art book then you will love this DVD. There is a total of 4 hours of great footage on this 2 disc DVD set.

Surprisingly, many animated films are not made all that differently today. With this DVD set we get several different tours and methods for showcasing the animated film making process at Disney Studios. The strangest but most refreshing thing about it is the 1930's and 40's mannerisms. Its hard to picture people actually talking that way to each other, but seeing it brings memories of the Cleaver household. Seeing this presentation brings a sweet tear to my eye due to the fondness I feel for many of the characters and storys in animated films as well as the craft itself. It's one of the things that drives an animator to bring magic to the screen for others to see and experience.

Disc 1
Leonard Maltins Intro
A Trip Through Walt Disney Studios - This was a film created at the request of RKO pictures to give a look at the inner workings of Disney Studios. Its a "no frills" tour of the process and miniature city that is Walt Disney Studios. There is also a cool subtitle information track you can turn on for more information about what you are seeing. Much of what we see is the working of Snow White in its production phases.

"The Reluctant Dragon" - This 1941 film was put together to help Disney generate revenue in the tough years of World War II when America was cut off from the rest of the world. Much of it was live action and therefore disappointed a lot of critics and audiences. Robert Benchley visits the Disney Studios to pitch the story of the Dragon to Walt. A great deal of the film is Benchley touring around the studio looking for Walt and being shown much of the process of creating animated movies. Later in the presentation we actually get to see the animated movie "The Reluctant Dragon". There is so much to love with this polished look at the Disney Studios that it requires repeat viewings to truly appreciate. Seeing it is almost like visiting Disneyland itself. If there was ever anything that could motivate me to want to go to Disneyland again this would be it.

How Walt Disney Cartoons are Made - This is the revised edition of "A Trip Through Walt Disney Studios" made for the public as a trailer of sorts for the release of "Snow White".

Bonus Material -
Leonard Maltin's Studio Tour - Mr. Maltin gets to give us an overall tour of the Disney Studios from then to now giving us a bit of history and perspective of the years in development.

Behind the Boards on Baby Weems - Joe Grant gives this rare interview about the Baby Weems cartoon which is part of the "Reluctant Dragon" film.

The Reluctant Dragon Gallery - Black and White photos of behind the scenes of the making of "The Reluctant Dragon".

Walt Disney Studios Gallery - Gallery of the studio buildings and locations. Some include audio narration.

Disc 2
"The Story of the Animated Drawing" - This is Walt giving us a detailed historical perspective on the invention of animation. He goes back as early as cave man times and then proceeds on to the early inventive ideas like the zoetrope. Technical things relating to animation are also explained like persistence of vision.

"The Plausible Impossible" - Another show from the Walt Disney archives with Walt showing how concepts in animation are often impossible and/or plausible meaning that something that is impossible in nature but fully plausible. The real treat here is a fully added sequence from Snow White that was cut from the film. Most of it is still in the rough drawing stage.

"Tricks of Our Trade" - Walt gives us detailed step by step tour of how an animated film is made. This is really valuable stuff for any budding animator and die-hard animation fans because it doesn't dumb down the presentation for the sake of watchability by the masses. This is truly a precious presentation depicting animators learning their craft and giving us the magic of early animated cartoons.

Bonus Material
Kem Weber Gallery - Kem Weber was a premiere industrial and conceptual designer of the time and was responsible for much of the design of the first Walt Disney Studio buildings. This gallery showcases his work and influence on the Disney empire.

Tour of the Disney Studio Radio Program - A very rare 1946 Australian radio program interviewing Homer Brightman, Harry Reeves, Ken O'Conner, Eric Larson, and Walt himself.

Summary: In an age where technical achievement has gone so far that anyone with a meager desktop computer could easily replicate technically what Disney was doing 70 years ago. Unfortunately the talent of these animation pioneers is still rare it is a treat to see in detail the earliest Disney productions with all the glorious style and fun as I am sure it was to make. This is a real tour de force of how animated films were made 70 years ago in the most widely acknowledged magic kingdom of storytelling - Walt Disney Studios. I give this my highest recomendation.

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