Senior HTF Member
- Feb 24, 1999
(1939-pres.)Studio:Disney Year:1939 - presentRunTime: @ 5 Hours of program-material (plus bonus material)Aspect Ratio:4x3 encoded 1.33:1 OAR (16x9 encoded 1.66:1 OAR for select program material)Audio:DD English mono (5.1 for certain features)Subtitles:English (captions for the hearing impaired)SpecialFeatures:The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (segment from Fantasia), Deleted animation from the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Mickey and the Beanstalk (outstanding), Mickey’s Christmas Carol (16x9 1.66:1 OAR), The Prince and the Pauper, Runaway Brain, Mickey’s Cartoon Comeback, the voice behind the mouse, Mouse Mania, Mickey Cartoon Physics from ‘Plausible Impossible’, Mickey on the Camera Stand, Color Titles from the Mickey Mouse Club, The Making of ‘Mickey’s Christmas Carol’, Publicity and Memorabilia Gallery, Story and Background Art Gallery (galleries have image-specific audio commentary for select images). Sound like a lot? It is!!ReleaseDate:May 18, 2004
If you haven’t already, please read my reviews of the other Treasures sets:
On The Front Lines
Magnificent. And Mickey is not even a Disney character for which I have a strong affinity. You do NOT need to be a “Mickey fan” to own this set. Neither do you need to be a Disney Die-hard. You simply need to enjoy classic animation, and the value of the historical context that’s conveyed when you have the opportunity to sample such a wide swath of content (from 1939 to the present). The program material ranges in style from the usual “cartoon” shorts you might be used to seeing on the Disney Channel or (for those of you with memories this far-reaching) before a feature films, all the way to full-length “features” (30 mins each) like Mickey’s Christmas Carol and the Prince and the Pauper (both of which are presented 16x9 1.66:1 pillarboxed OAR).
I hope you’ve already managed to purchase the previous “Mickey Mouse in Living Color Volume One”, as this Volume Two is its companion; together they complete the Mickey-in-living-color series (those of you with better knowledge can let us know if this actually makes all the Mickey cartoons available or if there are still some Mickey treasures hiding in the vault). Much of this content is being released on “home video” for the first time, and the presentation is immaculate. These shorts have been preserved and restored to glowing splendor. Much to Disney’s credit, the historic cell-dust and photographic grain artifacts have been left in tact where present, preserving the “film medium” authenticity of these marvelous historic works. I’m getting ahead of myself, I’ll save that for the PQ review.
It is nothing more than a privilege to have the opportunity to purchase and own this animated artwork on the DVD medium. Walt Disney’s “Treasures” is an absolutely appropriate title for this and every other DVD set that has born this banner.
Like with all the previous Treasures sets you own, this one comes in an outer tin canister case that is just oh-so-cool. Unlike previous incarnations of the Treasures series, this one is not “stamped” with the serial number. Inside there is an “extra wide” double-shell DVD case containing two DVD discs along with some generous printed booklet material. Also inside you’ll find a certificate designating the individual production number of your set out of the total run lot.
This is presentation with class. If only Disney would produce more of them! Get them while you can. They are all limited issue.
There are no forced trailers. If you’re familiar with the previous Treasures sets You’ve got the same type of menu style and “flow” here. The Program material on disc one contains a plethora of cartoon shorts that can be sorted chronologically or alphabetically (same as the previous releases and same as with the Donald Duck set). There is also a “Play All” option making enjoying hour after hour of these shorts an easy remote-free endeavor. Disc one also contains a few special features like the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” segment from Fantasia, deleted concept from that sequence, and “Mickey and the Beanstalk” quasi-feature (more than a short, less than a full-length feature). Disc two contains three more modern features: Mickey’s Christmas Carol, Prince and the Pauper, and Runaway Brain (the most contemporary feature, which I had never seen, and thoroughly enjoyed—especially the Millennium Falcon “false start” sound effect. Watch it and you’ll know what I’m talking about).
Each disc has an “overall” introduction by Leonard Maltin as well as a brief introduction for many of the feature/short presentations. I cannot express the value of Maltin’s contributions highly enough. His comments are educational, and add depth and context to each feature they precede. In no way to I view his presence here as anything that lessens or weakens the integrity of this historic work; Maltin’s words serve to honor and enhance this important work.
Each disc offers only English audio and optional English subtitles “for the hearing impaired”. The menus are nicely rendered and really fit the look and feel of the historic material. Bravo Disney for another superb job.
Much of this part of the review shares script with my other Treasures reviews. This isn’t a cop-out, it’s because the same comments apply.
Obviously we’re dealing with source material that is quite dated, so expect to see some film/animation/production-related artifacts. However, “natural” film/production related artifacts don’t bother me and (on soapbox) they shouldn’t bother you either (off soapbox). That’s the medium and that’s the content’s history. What does bother me are “electronic” artifacts that are introduced during film-tape transferring and/or subsequent mastering for DVD. Blessedly, this latter type of “artificial” artifacting is nary to be seen except for just a FEW instances where I saw the slightest bit of ringing around hard-lines in some of the animation sequences, but the effect was minimal, benign, and non-distracting (though causing me to shave off just a fraction of a point for final PQ score).
Many short convey plenty of film-grain and cell-dust. And that’s good. It means the Disney compression/DVD mastering center hasn’t opted to digitally air-brush all that natural film-grain away…which would have left a “clean” picture but one devoid of authenticity and fine detail. Color balance is striking. I presume that a Technicolor process was used for most of the color sequences we see. Colors are sumptuous, rich, vivid, and bold. Animation sequences naturally impress the most with a lush and vibrant pallet, but even live-shot sequences are worth noting. Depending on the animation of the particular program, colors are in a word: Stunning.
Particular on this Mickey set (as distinguished from several of the other treasures sets I’ve reviewed), I found the colors even MORE vivid and at time ultra-saturated, which to my eyes almost looked like the black-level or contrast of the content may have been tweaked to enhance this effect but I’ll assume that the images here are presented properly according to the intended look of the film originals. The features that really blew-me-away visually in terms of color saturation were the three features on the second disc (all presented 16x9 1.66:1 pillarboxed): Christmas Carol, Prince and the Pauper, and Runaway Brain. I just HAVE to say yet again how impressed I am with Disney’s presentation of these features…all loaded with rich natural image detail, film-grain (Runaway Brain least of all, but still there), and vivid, sumptuous colors that just drip off the screen. If you’re thinking of upgrading your display, please take my advice and start saving/planning for a boni-fide front-projection system. The resulting image these features produce on my 8-foot wide screen is nothing short of an astonishing-utterly-film like picture. Email me and we’ll talk if you need some more convincing.
Black level also without fault. The space scenes displayed black level as black as my projector can produce—in other words, black level is “absolute” on this disc giving the picture a wide and saturated dynamic range. Whites are bold without ever appearing “crushed” and grayscale is as good as the source material will allow. I noticed no compression artifacts from my 1.75 screen width distance.
Picture: 4.75/ 5
For once he’ll be brief. Try to stay calm. The audio is perfectly acceptable DD mono for the majority of the program material (all except the 3 more modern 16x9 WS features on disc two, which are 5.1). Sound is quite listenable on a high-resolution audio system without sounding thin and irritating. Neither is there a thick fog of hiss or noise overlaying the sound. Sound is clear, dialog easily intelligible, and music and score have a reasonable sense of dynamic range and frequency response.
Audio (multichannel) for the 3 WS features on disc two is notably superior to the more historic content. I was almost taken-aback by the sonic purity of the 5.1 sound (and bass response…especially in Prince and the Pauper and Runaway Brain) of these more modern features. Runaway Brain accomplishes a truly reference 5.1 mix that will satisfy any serious HT enthusiast.
Sound: 4.5/ 5
There is so much bonus material to cover, please forgive me if I only give a cursory listing. Once the disc are in-hand, if any of you care to go more in-depth and provide your own personal review of the special-feature content, email me and I’ll post your comments here to share with others. All bonus materials are on Disc two unless otherwise noted.
[*]Deleted Animation from the Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Disc One): A brief work-in-progress animation sequence for a snippet from the Sorcerer’s Apprentice (segment from Fantasia).
[*]Mickey’s Cartoon Comeback: A sort of “behind the scenes” featurette hosted by Maltin who discusses Mickey’s animation history (especially in more modern times) with some of the animators responsible for his character. I found this feature very enjoyable.
[*]The Voice Behind the Mouse: Wayne Allwine the voice of Mickey Mouse, and his wife Russi Taylor, the voice of Minnie Mouse discuss their roles as voice-actors. Very nice.
[*]Mouse Mania: Historic (and rarely seen) animation short commission for Mickey’s 50th birthday as celebrated in this TV premiere. A very cheesy yet VERY cool 1970’s short that has suffered the ravages of time (faded like so many prints from the 70’s) but a real treat to have here. I remember seeing this on the Disney Channel or somewhere when I was a kid and it was trip down memory lane to see it again. Thanks Disney!
[*]Mickey Cartoon Physics from “Plausible Impossible”: The entire feature from which this is taken is contained on the “Behind the scenes at the Walt Disney Studio”. This portion focuses on the bombastic and “stunt” action of animation, and also shows how the animators try to convey real-world physics of their characters by subtle animation techniques. A nice portion contained here for those surfing all the bonus material.
[*]Mickey Meets the Maestro: Brief behind the scenes of Mickey meeting the Maestro in Fantasia 2000. This is taken from the Fantasia Anthology DVD Box set release.
[*]Mickey on the Camera Stand: 1957 segment from “Tricks of Our Trade” (complete feature from which this is taken is contained on the “Behind the scenes at the Walt Disney Studio”). Shows use of the multi-plane camera.
[*]Color Titles from the Mickey Mouse Club: Color original film stock of various animated opening sequences from the original Mickey Mouse Club (which was aired on B&W television). Very nice. Fans of the Mickey Mouse Club will really enjoy this.
[*]The Making of “Mickey’s Christmas Carol”: Just what it says. Cool thing is that this is a historic “making of” that was produced along-side the feature…it is NOT a “new” production. It’s really cheesy…horrid VHS-quality video, bad mono sound and really tasteless be-bop music, and I love it. Some nice clips of storyboarding and some discussion with animators. Despite the “style”, it’s actually a very informative feature and clocks at a decent 24 minutes!
[*]Galleries: Publicity and Memorabilia and Story and Background Art Gallery. Very nice. The images are scanned with astonishing resolution and looked almost “hi def” on my projector…extremely detailed and clear. There is audio commentary that accompanies various images which I find to be an extremely valuable asset and one that I hope Disney considers using as a standard model for “image galleries” on all their DVDs.
Really folks. What do you expect me to say? An astonishing DVD effort on every level: Historic content, marvelous video and audio restoration, gobs and gobs of special feature content that really goes in-depth results in a DVD experience that’s as educational as it is entertaining. Take a wild guess…