Disney Animation Collection 7:
Mickey's Christmas Carol
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
US DVD Release Date: September 29, 2009
Rated: Not Rated
Running Time: 64 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 full screen
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: English (SDH), French, Spanish
Movie: 3 out of 5
Volume 7 of Disney's Animation Collection of Classic Short Films is holiday themed, spotlighting Mickey's Christmas Carol, on of my favorite of the modern long-form Disney animated shorts. Three of the shorts on this compilation were packaged together previously in 2005 as Classic Cartoon Favorites Vol. 9: Classic Holiday Stories (Mickey's Christmas Carol, The Small One, and Pluto's Christmas Tree), this new DVD adds the Silly Symphonies short Santa's Workshop.
Mickey's Christmas Carol is a Disney-ized, kid-friendly, and Cliff Notes version of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, with Mickey in the role of Bob Cratchit, Scrooge McDuck typecast as Ebenezer Scrooge, Donald Duck as his nephew Fred, Goofy as Jacob Marley's Ghost, Jiminy Cricket as the Ghost of Christmas Past, and Willie the Giant (from Mickey and the Beanstalk) as the Ghost of Christmas Present. Theatrically released in 1983, and nominated for a Best Animated Short Subject Oscar, the film marked the return of Mickey Mouse to the big screen since 1953's The Simple Things. The animation is limited by today's standards, but was equal to what the studio was releasing in feature-length form at the time. At just over 25 minutes, most of the major plot points of Dickens' story are touched upon in traditional Disney storytelling fashion, with enough humor to keep the younger members of the audience entertained.
The Small One, directed by Don Bluth just before he left the studio, was released theatrically in 1978 (attached to a re-issue of Pinocchio) and was based on the children's book by Charles Tazewell. A young boy is given the task by his father to sell his beloved, but old and weak, donkey in the markets of Nazarene. After a frightening trip to the tanner, followed by a humiliating attempt at the auctioneer, a young man, Joseph, purchases the donkey to carry his pregnant wife to Bethlehem. The story is a bit slow, the songs are repetitive, but the animation is a step above what the studio was producing in its feature films at the time, and many of the adult characters are drawn in the Fleischer Brothers style of animation. This was Don Bluth's chance to shine as a director while still at Disney.
Pluto's Christmas Tree, from 1952, has Mickey Mouse and his trustful dog, Pluto, cutting down a Christmas Tree that is inhabited by mischievous chipmunks Chip and Dale, who have fun at Pluto's expense. This is a pleasant little cartoon.
Santa's Workshop, a Silly Symphonies short in Technicolor from 1932, is perhaps the weakest short in the collection. On Christmas Eve, Santa and his elves are rushing to make sure everything is set for the big day. There's not much of a story here, just a lot of elves and Santa singing songs throughout.
Video: 3 out of 5
As with many other volumes of this DVD series, Disney has recycled some fairly old video transfers for most of the shorts on this disc. The video quality ranges from mediocre to very good. All are presented in the 1.33:1 full screen aspect ratio, although I suspect that Mickey's Christmas Carol and even The Small One were filmed in at least the 1.66:1 aspect ratio, considering how more recent these films are. Pluto's Christmas Tree looks the best of the lot, with fine detail, strong colors, and an overall clean image. Both Mickey's Christmas Carol and The Small One have an overall softness to them, and the prints used have quite a lot of dirt built into the image. The worst is Santa's Workshop, which may have more to do with the age of the film and its desperate need for a restoration. Colors fluctuate, detail is soft, and there is some occasional dirt visible.
Audio: 3 out of 5
Although the case lists Dolby Digital Surround, only Mickey's Christmas Carol is in stereo with a matrixed surround track. The rest of the shorts are in 2.0 mono. Still, dialogue is intelligible and fidelity is good, and Mickey's Christmas Carol has some nice ambient effects.
Special Features: 1 out of 5
The only Special Feature is a Collectible Litho Print (measuring approx 4.5” x 7') of Mickey, Minnie, and their children decorating a Christmas tree in what is supposed to be a still from Mickey's Christmas Carol.
Overall: 3 out of 5
Containing previously released material from other Disney DVD collections, if you're an avid Disney collector, you probably have all of these shorts already, likely in better condition. Otherwise, if you're looking for a nice collection of Christmas-themed Disney shorts for the kids, this DVD is for you.