Walt Disney Treasures-Mickey Mouse in Living Color

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Released 12-May-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Main Menu Introduction
Menu Audio
Introduction-Leonard Maltin (Film Historian)
Booklet
Collector Card
Short Film-Parade Of Award Nominees
Gallery
Featurette-Mickey In Living Color
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production ?
Running Time 208:09 (Case: 250)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By None Given
Studio
Distributor
Disney
Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring None Given
Case Gatefold
RPI $29.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Swedish
Norwegian
Danish
Finnish
Smoking Yes, infrequent
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    I guess the old "better late than never" adage is certainly a good one when talking about the Region 4 versions of the Walt Disney Treasures DVDs. The bad news is that it looks like it will be "never" for some of these sets, but the good news is that the ones falling into the "late" category are probably the most desirable packages for most people anyway.

    Since 2001 Disney have been releasing waves of limited edition tins in Region 1, containing archives of their historical material (ranging from Mickey Mouse cartoons to the complete series of Davey Crockett episodes). Each wave contains three or four different 2-disc sets, and they've just announced the fourth wave. It seems that the decision has been made to now release a selection of each wave in other Regions, I assume choosing the ones that are considered to sell best in non-US marketplaces.

    Of the four initial releases, we are getting this one and the Silly Symphonies set. Good news if you've been wanting to get hold of these little pieces of cinematic history, because upon release the small number of Region 1 LE tins get snapped up quicker than you can type your credit card number into your browser (and then of course get sold for ridiculous prices on ebay).

    Anyway, enough background on the Treasures sets, what we have in this offering are the complete first four years of colour Mickey Mouse cartoons (1935-1938). Mickey had already been around for a number of years in his black and white form (Steamboat Willie was released in 1928), so, as film historian Leonard Maltin informs us, by the time colour came along the cartoonists were running out of ideas to make Mickey funny on his own. Hence the cartoons in this collection are also filled with other favourite Disney characters, almost without exception.

    The episodes on the two discs are broken up as follows:

Disc 1

1935


1936
Disc 2

1937
1938

    As you can see, there are hours of Mickey Mouse animated action here, so if you're a fan then you really can't help but be overjoyed at the prospect of owning these DVDs. Whether you see these as kids cartoons, a piece of cinematic history, milestones in the world of animation, or just a harmless way to while away time, there's no questioning the value you're getting out of this set. The beautiful watercolour backgrounds and smooth, detailed animation remind us of what cartoons were like before Saturday morning television, and CGI. These are classic cartoons that are a beauty to behold.

    Bring on the next wave I say, so I can sell my Region 1 copies for ridiculous prices on ebay, and replace them with affordable PAL versions!

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Transfer Quality

Video

    These cartoons have been lovingly restored to look as good as they possibly can (considering their age). Buena Vista have done an excellent job with these transfers, and you'll never see these cartoons looking better.

    These cartoons are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, which is acceptably close to the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.37:1.

    Remembering again the age of the source, the sharpness of this transfer is not too bad. It's certainly softer than a good transfer of a recent release, with constant slight grain appearing throughout, but it really is about as good as you could expect.

    Colours are quite beautiful, and really showcase the lovingly painted backgrounds and animated foregrounds. The level of saturation is just right, and there are no problems with bleeding or low-level noise. Having seen most of these cartoons on VHS or TV over the years, I was amazed by just how beautiful the colour is in these restorations. Admittedly you will see slight colour and brightness changes in some of the shorts, resulting from the age of the source, but these are minor and infrequent.

    Film to video artefacts are generally absent, and I was pleased to see that the dreaded edge enhancement hadn't been use to "sharpen" the transfer further. However there was an artefact that appeared quite frequently throughout both discs. The artefact itself, which results in the 3 primary colours separating very briefly (in other words, being un-converged), is one I was previously unfamiliar with, but was able to gather some information from my learned colleague TonyR. Rather than paraphrase his explanation to me, and risk getting a letter from his lawyer, I'll just quote it below:

"The Technicolor process... used three strips of film, one for each colour... If there was a misalignment of the strips then you'd get this effect.

In making these DVDs they probably used a print that was made from the original three strips (I don't think they make a telecine machine that will take Technicolor directly, and besides, they probably transferred the Technicolor to conventional colour film some time ago). If there was any glitch in the transfer from the three strips to the one, then that could yield a faulty print (with the artefact we see) that was then used to make the DVDs."

    The artefact is one that appears and disappears very quickly, but is unfortunately quite prevalent. Some examples are as follows; The Band Concert 3:10, 4:47, Mickey's Rival 1:36, Clock Cleaners 0:47, Boat Builders 1:38, and Brave Little Tailor 7:31.

    Film artefacts appear throughout all these cartoons, but have been kept to an absolute minimum by the restoration process. I believe that some of the worst artefacts are actually inherent in the animation cels and are therefore impossible to clean from the film stock. Probably the worst example of such artefacts can be seen at 1:05 in Brave Little Tailor.

    There are 6 subtitle streams on these discs; English, English for the Hearing Impaired, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, and Finnish. I sampled the English streams, and although these cartoons are not exactly dialogue intensive (some have almost none at all), the subtitles are accurate to the spoken word.

    These are dual layered DVDs, but as you'd expect, the layer changes take place between cartoons.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is just the one audio stream on these discs; English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s).

    Despite the claim in the opening credits for each of these shorts that they have been recorded in High Fidelity, there is a world of difference between the 1930s idea of hi-fi and our modern recordings. So although the sound transfer on these discs is good, it's a good transfer of a less than stellar source.

    What little dialogue is present is clear and easy to understand (unless of course it's Donald Duck talking), and the lip sync is about as good as you can expect from an animated feature.

    The orchestral score is of a very similar nature for each cartoon, and they are all suitably descriptive in their nature. This is quite important when there is so little dialogue to set mood, and the music generally conveys mood to perfection (mostly cheerful, but sometimes dramatic or scary).

    The surrounds and subwoofer are not used at all, due to the nature of the mono soundtrack.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    Menus are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and have music from the cartoons looping in the background.

Disc 1

Introduction - Leonard Maltin: Film Historian (2:06)

    This introduction plays automatically when you put the disc into your player. However it can be skipped, which is a good thing since you'll only really want to see it once probably. It includes some interesting information on where Mickey was, in his evolution, when Disney decided to present him in colour. Like almost everything else on this disc it is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

Pencil Tests

    These are the very rough pencil tests of three cartoons, showing the early stage of the animation process (long before any colour has been added). There is a 1:08 introduction by Leonard Maltin explaining what these pencil tests were used for, and how they were saved by the director and hence recorded for posterity. The three shorts that we have pencil tests for are:

    These are extremely grainy/flickery images, often with written notes on pages flashing by, but are of real interest to animation enthusiasts. Note also that you can use the multi-angle button on your DVD remote to switch between the pencil test and the finished product.

Parade Of Award Nominees (3:17)

    This is a short animation that was created for the 1932 Academy Awards banquet. It is actually the first time Mickey was presented in colour, albeit only briefly. It's basically a parade of cartoon versions of actors walking across the screen, with Disney characters thrown into the mix. Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.37:1, the 3:17 running time of this extra includes a 47-second intro by the ever present Leonard Maltin.

Disc 2

Featurette - Mickey in Living Color (8:42)

    Historian Leonard Maltin presents a short featurette about the evolution of Mickey Mouse, and bringing him to colour. We also get comments from Walt himself, and old animators such as Ward Kimball. It's an interesting short, but unfortunately just that - short.

Photo Gallery

    52 images including pencil sketches, storyboards, and posters.

Collector Card

    A colour collector card featuring the poster for The Band Concert.

Booklet

    A small booklet outlining the making of the Treasures sets.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The contents of the two Regions' discs are almost identical, with the only major change being in the packaging. The Region 1 set comes in a limited edition tin, containing an Alpha 2-disc case with a collector card and booklet, whereas our copy comes in a digipak. We still get the colour collector card and the booklet (although this one only advertises our 2 DVD sets, as opposed to the 4 advertised in the US booklet), but lack the tin and solid packaging. If you're into the collecting craze (which seems to be quite the rage in the US these days), then you'll have to search online auction sites and pay through the nose to get a copy of the Region 1 version.

    Really when it comes down to it, it's all about the cartoons, and the fact that we have them presented in the same quality (in PAL's higher resolution), at an affordable price, easily compensates for the collectability of the US/Canadian version. I'm calling this one a draw.

Summary

    A collection of the first four years of colour Mickey Mouse theatrical shorts. What more do you need to know? You either like them or you don't (or you're somewhere in-between!). Personally, I think to own these on a digital medium in good quality is an opportunity not to be missed.

    Video, while not perfect, is about as perfect as it could be considering the age of the source material. A pleasure to watch.

    Audio is acceptable, and again considering the age of the source, is surprisingly clear.

    Extras are for the most part interesting, but are lacking in quantity and length.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© David L (Only my Mum would have any interest in my bio)
Monday, July 26, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDOmni 3600, using RGB output
DisplaySony 1252QM CRT Projector, 250cm custom built 16x9 matte screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS797- THX Select
SpeakersAccusound ES-55 Speaker set, Welling WS12 Subwoofer

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Comments (Add)
It's amazing what a difference a tin cover makes to the price. - REPLY POSTED
That's US$130-$150 for the set -
Now it's up to US$199 for the set -
Amazon top asking price $299.95 -
Other Disney tin sets -
Region 2 PAL tins. - deckard3