Thanks to Rand for jumping in to cover the column earlier this week as I deal with family issues, and I hope you all had a great festive season! Well, how about Warner’s Blu swing, eh? The cards are still falling from that shake up, and will be for a good few months, I’m sure. But the answer to which format those interesting in hi-def should be focusing on now is clearer than ever and with Universal looking to be the only major studio still on the fence it’s only a matter of time before they at least offer support for both formats. Tell ya one thing…I didn’t just hold off buying a couple of DVD titles over the holidays for nothing – I’ve now got them down on my Amazon wish list in their Blu flavor…!
Of course, good old regular DVD isn’t going anywhere quite yet and we’re still seeing some amazing titles emerge on the format that will be a good few years coming to hi-def (Blu or not!) and chief among them was the pre-Christmas release of the latest wave of Walt Disney Treasures. The series looked close to doom this time last year with the news that the Legacy Collection would effectively be taking over the kind of content previously reserved for Leonard Matlin to guide us through, but an outcry from dedicated fans saw another wave and now we have three new tins to excite and entertain us. The Disneyland documentary Stories, Secrets And Magic has had a bit of a bumpy road coming to disc, first announced as a theme-park exclusive, then a wider issue 50th Anniversary disc, which was then pulled. It bounced back as a Legacy offering, but now that that series has been curtailed in favor of more Treasures, it’s finally found its natural home in Maltin’s silver tinned collection. However, you’ll have to wait just a little longer for my take, which I’m working on getting up for Monday!
In the meantime, we’ve got you covered on the other two releases in the wave! Rand has ploughed through all four and a half hours of The Chronological Donald: Volume Three and can apparently now speak fluent Duck! With “30 of the sharpest, funniest cartoons you are likely to ever enjoy”, this new Don-a-thon sees the often frustrated feathered one joined by a cast of sidekicks that helped keep his series feeling fresh, including team-ups with Goofy, more from Huey, Dewey and Louie, Chip ‘n’ Dale and the introductions of bees and beetles. Some of the best later-era Donald Duck cartoons pop up here, and the set needs no recommending from us, though Rand’s words will surely persuade those who might have felt fatigued after the fairly dry second volume. With “consistently good” transfers and “no complaints for this particular Disney Treasure, no duck fan could ask for more”!
Joining Donald on DVD, and rather historically on any home video format for the first time, is Walt Disney’s original animated star Oswald The Lucky Rabbit, whose career fell somewhere between the early innovations of the Alice Comedies and the phenomenal success of the Mouse. The new The Adventures Of Oswald The Lucky Rabbit is perhaps one of the most important Treasures for these very reasons, and it’s no mistake that the set made our list of the Best Of 2007, coming in just underneath Popeye at number 2. As well as these terrifically entertaining and technologically advanced animated shorts, the set also includes the second of the “Legacy Trilogy” feature documentaries that places onus on those important to the Disney Studio’s growth. Leslie (The Pixar Story) Iwerks’ The Hand Behind The Mouse celebrates her grandfather, Walt’s legendary animator and best friend Ub, in the grand style awarded to Frank And Ollie and Disney himself in The Man Behind The Myth. If you enjoyed those tributes, then Hand is a must-see, and the Oswald cartoons themselves an essential purchase for anyone interested in Walt’s beginning and the birth of Mickey Mouse.
Finally today, Christian has been Chatting To The Chestnut Tree Creators, in particular South Koran animation Hyun-Min Lee, who moved to the States in 2000 and has found herself animating the classic Disney characters for the Studio of today. Her contacts at Disney’s have helped her complete a personal short film that pays tribute to her Mother, and the discussion goes into depth on how the resulting The Chestnut Tree was created and has been released to acclaim that includes two Annie Award nominations at this year’s event!
Have a great weekend, and stay tooned! – Ben.