In a very early announcement (well, for their November 11 release date), Walt Disney Home Entertainment has revealed that we can expect three new releases in the Walt Disney Treasures line!
• Destino: isn’t too much of a surprise, having been previously announced for the second wave of Roy Disney’s Legacy Collection series, but is extremely welcome! The last wave of Treasures saw issues for Oswald The Lucky Rabbit and Disneyland Secrets, Stories And Magic, so this title presumably closes the door on that cycle. Destino, of course, famously began as a 1946 collaboration between Walt Disney and the famed surrealist painter Salvador Dalí. A first-hand example of Disney’s interest in avant garde and experimental work in animation, Destino was to be awash with Dalí’s iconic melting clocks, marching ants and floating eyeballs.
However, the film wasn’t completed until 2003, when it was rediscovered by Walt’s nephew, Roy E. Disney, while he was looking for material for the continuations of Fantasia. He took on the challenge of bringing the creation of these two great artists to fruition, and the film was eventually nominated for an Academy Award and showcased during the Once Upon A Time: Artistic Sources exhibition in Paris and Montreal, which I was lucky enough to visit.
In addition to the completed short, the release will need to include quite a lot of bonus footage to make up a two-disc set, but it seems we’re covered: an all-new feature-length documentary will examine the partnership between Dalí and Disney, and two new featurettes, The Disney That Almost Was and Encounters With Walt, will examine the studio’s unfinished projects and address the surprisingly diverse group of celebrities and artists who were attracted to Walt Disney’s early work, respectively. How exciting!
• Dr. Syn, Alias The Scarecrow Of Romney Marsh: has long been mooted as a Treasures release, and I’m very glad that it’s finally made it through the release schedule. The Scarecrow Of Romney Marsh first aired as three separate episodes on Walt Disney’s weekly television show just as Davy Crockett had done, and starred a pre-Prisoner Patrick McGoohan as the titular anti-hero. As was often practice for Disney’s small screen properties after Crockett‘s phenomenal success, the shows were shot in color and later edited for European theatrical releases. This DVD set will include all three of the original TV episodes plus the theatrical Dr. Syn, Alias The Scarecrow version of the film that was released in England!
• The Chronological Donald, Volume 4: last but by no means least, the irascible duck is back in what should be the final collection of his animated short work. The inclusion of the 1959 featurette Donald In Mathmagic Land has now been confirmed, since the set will cover cartoons released between 1951 and 1961. The CinemaScope shorts will be presented in their original widescreen aspect ratio for the first time on video, something actually promised for The Chronological Donald, Volume 3 even though that collection didn’t reach as far as the introduction of this particular widescreen process. So in that respect Volume 4 sounds like it’s going to be another keeper!
As always, the three sets will be hosted by historian and Disney fan Leonard Maltin, with each limited edition individually numbered, including the usual certificate of authenticity, exclusive lithograph and embossed collectible tin. Very, very cool!
In other disc news, the hi-def format was is most definitely over, with the news that Toshiba has now officially announced that it will cease production of new hardware by the end of March. Warner Bros. will continue to market the HD-DVDs they have already announced, as will Paramount/DreamWorks, but Universal has finally announced plans to move to Blu-Ray, effectively leaving HD-DVD without any single major studio supporter. It was long, it was nasty, but now it’s over. Funny…Sony won for a change!
Stay tooned! – Ben.