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Walt Disney Treasures
Behind The Scenes At The Walt Disney Studio

review by Zach B.

 

 

Running Time: 240 minutes

 

Studio: Disney

Retail Price: $32.99

Features:
Disc 1:
Leonard Maltin Introduction, Leonard Maltin's Studio Tour, Behind The Boards On Baby Weems, The Reluctant Dragon Gallery, Walt Disney Studios Gallery. DVD-ROM: Register Your DVD
Disc 2: Kem Weber Gallery, Tour Of The Disney Radio Program. DVD-ROM: Register Your DVD

Specs: 1.33:1 Full Screen, English Dolby Mono, English Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Two-Disc Set

Released: December 3rd, 2002

 

 

Yes, he's the man who started an empire and changed history as well as popular culture as we know it. Despite how you feel about what he started, what he created and who he ended up inspiring, you can't help but credit Walt Disney for what he ended up doing - make money and create pieces of entertainment (ah, nothing like the American dream). Still, there's much more to good old Walt than the empire that bears his name - whether we realize it or not. The man was always pushing the limits, as he and those who worked with him also created new inventions for filmmaking and new, unique processes. Love the man or can't stand him, Walt Disney, in my opinion, was one of the most important people in the 20th century and will likely go down as one of the most important people in history when it comes to the fields of business and entertainment.

This excellent new volume of Walt Disney Treasures presents six episodes of the "Disneyland" television show: "A Trip Through The Walt Disney Studios," "The Reluctant Dragon," "How Walt Disney Cartoons Are Made," "The Story Of The Animated Drawing," "The Plausible Impossible" and "Tricks Of Our Trade." I wasn't alive for the wonders of this show, but I have seen parts of some episodes beforehand on the Disney Channels(they used to air in the middle of the night along with some classic Disney stuff, but now if you turn the station on at 4 AM you'll probably be treated to a "Sister Sister" episode). A lot of you who were alive and cherished this show during its original run will definitely be pleased by these episodes, as I'm sure you'll get some fond memories of enjoying it or growing up and whatnot, while the rest of you who weren't around and are so used to the typical slickness of promotion and hype-fueled advertising these days probably just won't "get" what this show was all about, not to mention most of you will find it pretty boring and rather drab.

So what was "Disneyland" exactly? Pretty much, Walt Disney would show off (AKA plug) himself and what his studio had to offer. While nearly every DVD out there features some promotional making-of featurette we tend to look down upon since they usually don't tell us much about what is being promoted, and films and their revenue are usually drawn upon its hype and buzz, I'm sure a lot of you would find it hard to believe that in the 1940s and 1950s there wasn't much as far as promotion for film. Walt was certainly a show-off and loved it, and that is probably what made him ahead of his time.

Just what was Walt's secret as far as this show and what he did on it? I think it was passion. Walt seemed to love what he was doing, yet when it came to his brand of promotion, he was incredibly subtle about it. The man was charming, and yet for this big studio head, when he talked in these shows he was talking directly to you as if he was your friend. Trust me, doing that is harder than it looks. Yet in doing that, he would provide interesting bits and rather clever moments to make it all seem like pure entertainment (rather than brainwashing). The man just went out there and did what he had to do. And while some of this stuff might seem dated or old hat at this point in time, back then people were enthralled by this sort of thing and it was quite interesting as Disney showed his bag of tricks, probably since no one really had done any of that before in the industry. It was a new thing, and it was pretty wonderful (even if a bit unrealistic and embellished at times - I just wish it was that easy to pitch a book to a studio head). So if you're a die-hard Disney fan or have been collecting these fine sets (or want to show these to a new generation and have those in that generation connect with you), "Behind The Scenes At The Walt Disney Studio" is another must have edition that is chocked filled with history and much depth. And you better hurry, like the others, there's only 125,000 of these sets out there.

 

All the episodes are presented in 1.33:1 full screen, and given the age of these shows, they do look quite nice. Some of you might not like that some portions of the show are in color and other portions are in black and white (though "The Story Of The Animated Color" is completely in black and white). This is because the show was actually filmed in color, but was broadcast in black and white. As a result, not all the original color portions made it. Still, it's not bad or anything and it is nice that Disney did its best with what it had. The transfers can be a bit grainy at times, and there are little inconsitencies that aren't too distracting such as blemishes, nicks, dirt pieces and scratches. The color stuff does look quite nice and features strong detail and bold, fulfilling color saturation. Fleshtones also look pretty nice, while the transfers do retain a certain sharpness to them. In all, this is very nice stuff that is bound to please those who watch it.

 

All the episodes also feature two channel Dolby Digital English mono tracks. As you'd expect, there aren't much to these but work fine for the material. Fidelity on these tracks are pretty good, while dialogue is really clear and easy to hear (all right, a rhyme!). All the sound elements come together and blend for a certain smoothness when you listen to what's going on. The dynamics are obviously limited, but that doesn't matter much here. There is no hiss, popping or any kind of distorition. In all, this stuff suits the material nicely. Also included are English subtitles and English closed captions through your television set.

 

Once again, the Walt Disney Treasures set offers some really nice supplements that are sure to please fans. First up are a series of Leonard Maltin Introductions, featured on both discs. Besides the standard introductions preceeding the menus on each disc that perfectly describe in detail what each is about and the focus, Maltin also introduces each episode of the "Disneyland" show. These intros, featuring various stills and clips, do last a good few minutes and provide some wonderful production tidbits and interesting stories. Do watch these, as Disney nut Maltin surely knows what he's talking about.

On the first disc, and probably the highlight of this set, is Leonard Maltin's Studio Tour. Lasting twenty-four minutes and three seconds, this is a very nice piece that highlights what makes the Walt Disney Studios so famous and inventive. Maltin hosts this and narrates it, highlighting the rise of Walt Disney and his studio. This gives a great amount of history in such a short amount of time. There's so much to be learned here, be it you're a die-hard fan or casual one. This featurette just starts and doesn't slow down. Packed with a variety of film footage and stills, this is a great glimpse of how history is made and is certainly a must watch.

Behind The Boards On Baby Weems lasts ten seconds under six minutes, and is also very good. The focus here is on Disney artist Joe Grant. This is a nice profile on him, highlighting his work and what he's done. Featuring stills and clips, Maltin sits down and talks with the man who provides some very interesting stories and insights on his craft. Decent stuff.

There are also two image galleries on the first disc, those being for "The Reluctant Dragon" and "Walt Disney Studios." Maltin also has some things to say on three of the "Walt Disney Studios" pictures, so listen to those. You can also Regiser Your DVD on both discs if you have DVD-ROM.

The second disc features the Kem Weber Gallery, featuring Weber's various designs and stills which is pretty neat stuff. Some stills include audio options from Maltin, which are worthy listens. Also included here is Tour Of The Disney Studio Radio Program. This is audio only, and has a nice audio intro from Leonard Maltin. The quality isn't great, but this piece from September 1946 is all the way from Australlia. Disney, as well as some story guys and animators talk here, all moderated by a woman. In all, interesting stuff.

And that's it on the discs. Included is your usual, detailed and very snazzy collectible booklet and collectible art, this one featuring "The Reluctant Dragon." You also get your standard DVD case held inside your nice tin case.

 

"Behind The Scenes At The Walt Disney Studio" is yet another must have DVD if you're a Disney fan or film buff. This is a very nice set with six episodes of the "Disneyland" show plus some very detailed extras. The transfers are nice and the mono mixes are quite good. This is a must have any way you look at it, so plunk down the cash and enjoy hours of Disney history - so make sure you're one of the lucky 125,000 who get to own this.