Mickey Mouse In Black & White
Studio: Walt Disney
Feature Length: 250 minutes
Aspect Ratio: Full Frame (1.33:1)
It's moments like this that you really come to
appreciate not only the DVD format but studios like
Walt Disney that offer you to hold such precious
history in the palm of your hand.
Last year, Disney began releasing some of its most
prized animation under its Walt Disney Treasures
banner. Arriving in tin case packaging, these DVDs
offered consumers the opportunity to own a piece of
Disney history. Some of the initial titles that have
become my most prized possessions include Mickey
Mouse In Living Color and Silly Symphonies,
both showcasing the incredible animation talent that
made Disney a household name.
In December, Disney is set to release its second
wave of Treasure titles. Three of them arrived
at my door today: Behind The Scenes At Walt
Disney Studios; The Complete Goofy; and the one
that I tore open immediately, Mickey Mouse In
Black And White.
Walt Disney was a man that will be remembered through
the decades for his imagination, creativity and the
magical worlds he provided. He is an individual who
has left a legacy of memories, joy and laughter within
the minds of people throughout the world.
His greatest creation was of course, Mickey Mouse.
Mickey Mouse was created in 1928, and his debut was
actually in a silent cartoon entitled "Plane Crazy."
The cartoon never hit the big screen due to the fact
that sound was being introduced into motion pictures.
That gave Walt quite an advantage, as he took a big
gamble and produced the first animated sound
cartoon, "Steamboat Willie," starring his lovable
Mickey Mouse. Mickey and Minnie were instant hits.
In fact, Mickey Mouse was so popular that over a
million children joined the original Mickey Mouse
Club between 1929 and 1932.
For the first time on this format, consumers have
the opportunity to own a most important piece of
Disney history. These are the original cartoons
that started it all.
Arriving in an attractive individually numbered tin
case, this handsome 2-disc Collection contains 34
of the original B&W Mickey Mouse cartoon shorts
starting with Steamboat Willie (1928) and
ending with Mickey's Service Station (1935).
Inside the tin box lies the two DVD discs resting
in double-cased Nexpak housing. In the side pocket
is an 8-page collector's booklet printed on durable
paper. Through text and photos, this booklet gives
you a little bit of a brief history of how Walter Elias
Disney made "an indelible impact on the landscape
of popular culture." Also included is a poster
card from Steamboat Willie.
Who better than to introduce this set than film
historian Leonard Maltin. Leonard appears many
times throughout this collection, most notably at
the beginning of each disc, giving historical
background to the material you are about to watch.
There's one sequence featuring Leonard Maltin that
made me stand up and applaud. It comes on Disc
One, before the short Mickey Steps Out.
In an introduction, Leonard talks about the racial
stereotypes that were common in cartoons during
the 1920s and 1930s. As he talks, we are actually
shown examples of cartoon stereotypes via film
clips from early Disney B&W films. Leonard goes
on to make this very important statement about
preserving these cartoons insisting we learn
from them instead of removing them from public
view. The fact that Disney has included these
works uncut in this collection and having someone
like Leonard Maltin offer an explanation of them,
is quite outstanding. Perhaps Warner Brothers can
learn from this before they butcher their Bugs
Bunny releases for DVD.
How is the transfer?
Despite the condition of shorts that are now
nearly 75 years old, these cartoons come across
well preserved. Sure, they have their share
of scratches and blemishes but it's amazing to
see how clear these images look after all these
years. I would expect these films look better
than they did theatrically. Sound is quite good
despite the fact that it contains a considerable
amount of background noise, something that is
to be expected when considering the age of these
cartoons. Still, audio never becomes too shrill
nor overmodulated. In all, I think this is the
best possible presentation that one would expect
of this material.
Let me begin by talking about the Main Menu.
I give much credit to the folks at Disney for
putting some thought into the overall presentation
of these shorts. Through the menu you can arrange
the selection of shorts either by alphabetical
or chronological listing. You also have the
option of English subtitles, which is certainly
an unexpected welcomed addition here.
Each disc contains a variety of Bonus Material.
Let's begin with Disc One...
Frank and Ollie...and Mickey introduce us
to legends Ollie Johnson and Frank Thomas. It was
President Franklin D. Roosevelt who called his
Supreme Court the "nine old men." As a joke, Walt
Disney named his earliest key animators by the same
term. Here are two of the original "Nine Old Men"
of the Walt Disney Company who talk about what
Mickey Mouse has meant to them after all these years.
Along with conversation, we get a look at some
original drawings by Ub Iwerks including some early
pencil tests. It's wonderful to spend some time
with these animators who talk about the early
animation process as well as what it was like to
work with Walt Disney.
(length: approx. 18 minutes)
Story Scripts for Steamboat Willie
and Mickey Steps Out clearly shows the
the meticulous planning that went into the the
production of his cartoons from the detailed
scripts to storyboards. Using your remote, you
have the opportunity to leisurely browse through
this historical collection of material.
There are seven Story Sketch presentations
that give you an idea of how these cartoons were
previsualized before going to the final animation process.
These sketches play as full-length cartoons along with
musical accompaniment. You'll even notice some of the
artist's own personal notes scribbled within the drawings.
Let's move on to the Bonus Material that
appears on Disc Two...
Pencil Test: The Mail Pilot takes us through
the next step of the animation process after a
storyboard is completed. These were photographed
pencil test animations that were done before going on
to the ink and paint department. This is the only
test that still survives, and it's simply amazing
to watch. Aided by the film's original soundtrack,
we get to see how fluidly this cartoon animation
flowed even in its most primitive stages. It's no
wonder these tests played an important part
in Walt's aim for animation perfection.
(length: approx. 3 minutes)
There are a few more Story Sketch presentations
here -- twelve to be exact -- that give you an idea of
how these cartoons were previsualized before going to
the final animation process. These sketches play as
full-length cartoons along with musical accompaniment.
You'll even notice some of the artist's own personal
notes scribbled within the drawings.
A Poster Gallery featuring 21 original
posters can be viewed using your remote control.
Some of the work contains audio commentary by
How can you put a price on something like this?
This is perhaps one of the greatest video releases
to come out of the studio since it began releasing
DVD. It's nothing less than a piece of nostalgic
It belongs in every collection!
Release Date: December 3, 2002