Disney has released several of their most beloved animation classics on DVD in their new Animation Collection of Classic Short Films. With such adored characters as Mickey Mouse, Pluto, Goofy, Donald Duck, and several other well known favorites, these DVD’s are hard to pass up. Whether you’re a fan of Disney classics such as these, or you’re looking for something different to watch and entertain the family, these new DVDs are definitely worth looking into.
When I saw that “The Prince and the Pauper” was featured in the Disney Animation Collection of Classic Short Films (Volume 3), I was ecstatic. “The Prince and the Pauper” is a fairly well known tale of two young characters, one a prince, the other a pauper, who look exactly alike but their commonalities stop there. While the Pauper spends his days wishing to have feasts and a warm fire, the Prince spends his learning and undertaking the duties of a prince while all the while wishing he had the freedom of his people to do what they please whenever they desire. The Disney version features Mickey Mouse as Mickey, the Pauper and the Crown Prince. When the two meet, they instantly decide to live a day in each other’s shoes.
For the Crown Prince, he realizes that the name of his dad is being ruined by a greedy captain who steals from the poor in the name of the king. The Crown Prince tries to stop the Captain, but no one believes that he’s the prince. For Mickey, he comes to understand the pressure of being a prince when he’s suddenly called upon to be king - the truth is discovered by the Captain who captures the Crown Prince.
At 24 minutes, “The Prince and the Pauper” is a wonderful and timeless story. Also included on Volume 3 are “The Pied Piper”, “Old King Cole”, “A Knight for a Day” and “Ye Olden Days”.
“The Pied Piper” and “Old King Cole” are from 1933. The animation is the most inspired part of these shorts, because it wonderfully represents that time period and offers a refreshing look that isn’t really found in films or even children’s books today. Fans of the “Silly Symphonies” will definitely enjoy these additions, especially “Old King Cole” that features so many well known characters such as Little Boy Blue, Old Mother Hubbard, Humpty Dumpty, and many more. “Ye Olden Days” is a black and white short featuring Mickey Mouse and “A Knight for a Day” features characters battling for the hand of a princes in a high tower. This DVD does an excellent job of creating a cohesive group of animated shorts.
Volume 2 DVD from the Disney Animation Collection of Classic Short Films features “Three Little Pigs” from the “Silly Symphonies” series. The story of three pigs who use different materials to build their house is well known, but with the 1933 Disney animation and songs, I recall this as one of the first filmed adaptations of the story that I ever saw. Pig number one builds his house out of straw and spends the rest of his day playing on his flute with the time he has to spare. Pig number two builds his house out of sticks and spends his spare time playing on his fiddle. Meanwhile, pig number three doesn’t have time to play because he’s busy building his sturdy house from bricks. When a hungry wolf comes along to “huff and puff and blow their house in” two of the pigs quickly learn that they should have spent more time building a secure house. Meanwhile the pig they laughed at for never stopping to play is the pig they must turn to when their houses are blown down by the very wolf the smart pig warned them against.
“Three Little Pigs” is a classic story that never gets old and neither does this 8 minute short film from Disney. In 1934, Disney returned to the three little pigs and the big bad wolf in “The Big Bad Wolf”. The “Silly Symphonies” short combines the “Three Little Pigs” and “Little Red Riding Hood” in what is another story where the smart pig must rescue the more trusting, less concerned piglets as well as Red Riding Hood and her grandmother. The animation here, much like the other “Silly Symphonies” from the early thirties is fantastic. “Three Little Wolves” is Disney’s retelling of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” featuring the same big bad wolf and little pigs from “Three Little Pigs” and “The Big Bad Wolf”.
Also included on the DVD featuring “Three Little Pigs” are “Lambert The Sheepish Lion”, “Chicken Little”, “Three Blind Mouseketeers” and “Elmer Elephant”. While “Chicken Little” and “Three Blind Mouseketeers” weren’t as good as the others, “Lambert The Sheepish Lion” was an entertaining story about a lion raised by a sheep who can’t seem to find his courage. “Elmer Elephant” proved to be a truly pleasant surprise with charming animation and an even more charming story about an elephant whose picked on for having a trunk, only to prove how useful it is when his friends house catches on fire. If for anything, check out this DVD for “Elmer Elephant”.
Volume 1 DVD from the Disney Animation Collection of classic short films features “Mickey and the Beanstalk”. “Mickey and the Beanstalk” is another cartoon I remember very well from childhood. This is a marvelous retelling of “Jack and the Beanstalk” staring Mickey Mouse as the brave character who climbs the magical beanstalk to face the giant and retrieve a golden singing harp that kept the valley happy.
Donald Duck and Goofy also assist in bringing the golden harp back to valley and ultimately restoring happiness. The narration adds to the overall story here and helps bring some humor to the tale that runs nearly 30 minutes. While not as fun as I remembered it, “Mickey and the Beanstalk” is definitely worth a look for fans.
Also included on Volume 1 are the shorts “The Brave Little Tailor”, “Gulliver Mickey”, “Thru the Mirror”, and “Mr. Mouse Takes a Trip”. “The Brave Little Tailor” is a fantastic short featuring Mickey Mouse. This short is a wonderful lesson in misunderstanding. When the tailor kills seven flies, the townspeople misunderstand and think he’s killed seven giants. When a real giant threatens the land, the tailor is called upon despite having never killed even one giant before. This story is classic Disney with lots of close calls and action. While not my favorite, it is definitely one of the more familiar shorts featured in the DVD series.
“Mr. Mouse Takes a Trip” is one of the better shorts on this DVD featuring Mickey Mouse and Pluto who set off on a train, only to encounter some trouble when the conductor won’t let Pluto on. Mickey sneaks Pluto on anyways and they try to stay hidden, but that doesn’t go to well when Pluto jumps out of the suitcase - very fun and definitely worth a look.
If you’re looking for classic tales told with beautiful animation and loveable, memorable characters, then you’ll definitely want to check out Disney’s new Animation Collection of Classic Short Films. Each volume offers a decent collection of beloved classics and all are combined in a solid group of complimentary stories.
VIDEO: The shorts are presented by Disney in their original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio. Although there is some minor-to-mild wear visible on a few occasions, these shorts otherwise look to have received excellent treatment over the years, appearing mostly clean. Sharpness and detail are respectable (considering the age of the shorts) and colors look crisp and nicely saturated.
SOUND: The shorts are presented in Dolby 2.0. Audio quality is satisfactory, as although the shorts sounded their age, there were no instances of distortion or other sound quality problems.
EXTRAS: The DVD’s don’t include any special features except for Sneak Peeks from the studio. Each DVD includes a collectible litho print from the film.
“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”
Disney Movie Rewards
“The Princess and the Frog”
“The Black Cauldron: Special Edition”
“Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure”
“Tigger & Pooh and a Musical Too”
“Mickey Mouse Club House: Mickey’s Big Splash”
Final Thoughts: Fans of these classic shorts should be quite pleased by these terrific collections. Recommended.