Lately it seems that the folks at Disney are more interested in raping their legacy by making cheap, direct to video sequels that are no where near the quality of their original features than in honouring their legacy by creating new masterpieces.
One bright spot in the Disney DVD releases has been their Disney Treasures series. These releases are wonderfully put together collections of each major animated short series that Disney produced in the earlier days of the studio. There are collections featuring Mickey, Goofy, Donald as well as the Silly Symphonies, Mickey Mouse Club and Disneyland series. Each contains not only the shorts that made this studio’s reputation but also well crafted extras that you can tell were put together by people who love these films.
One that truly stands out is the Disney Rarities set. This is a collection of a number of unrelated shorts which stand on their own without being a part of a series. There are the well known such as Ferdinand the Bull, Paul Bunyan and Lambert the Sheepish Lion as well as lesser known films including the pleasant The Little House.
This set is such a treat as it includes, for the first time I am aware of, the silent Alice cartoons that got Disney started in the first place. There is so much insight to be gained from these early works.
Another special addition is the inclusion of the remarkable Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom and Adventures in Music: Melody to show how music was explored and integrated into film at this time.
Also watch out for the Chicken Little short that I wish had inspired the makers of the latest rendition.
Commentary tracks by experts and excellent behind the scenes features make this set a real treasure. These films were originally shown in cinemas before the main feature. I wish I had been alive in those days to get that kind of cinematic experience.
This set is worth while for animation fans and the more sceptical. It reminds us what made Disney magical in the first place.