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Walt Disney Treasures
The Adventures Of Oswald The Lucky Rabbit
review by Zach B.
Running Time: 234 minutes
Retail Price: $32.99
Oswald Comes Home, Audio Commentaries, Sadebrush Sadie (Fragment),
Galleries, The Hand Behind The Mouse: The Ub Iwerks Story, The Work Of
Specs: 1.33:1 Full Screen, Dolby Digital 2.0, English
Subtitles, Two-Disc Set
Released: December 11th, 2007
Leonard Maltin points out on his introduction, the Disney company did
not own the rights to Oswald until a few years ago - decades after Walt
Disney himself lost the rights. With that said, it was quite a
challenge to recover these cartoons. (As Maltin rightfully points out,
we're lucky to have them at all.) Some of the cartoons are of 16mm home
movie prints, or re-cut versions, or from foreign film archives - among
audio is a lot better than the video, and that's because Disney
enlisted the talents of composer Robert Israel to record new music
recordings to go with these shorts. The music certainly fits the bill
with what's going on screen, and while it's only spread over two
channels, there is a certain richness and warmth to the compositions.
What an excellent execution.
With that in mind, they are a mixed bag as far
as image quality... and it's easy to tell where the cartoons have been
cut and pasted from a variety of sources. Some of the shorts are
sprinkled with dirt and s=cratches, and definitely look on the rough
side... but others are remarkably pristine, and do hold a candle to
other restorations where the material has remained intact. This is
really a tough category to grade since there's no consistency, but
credit must be given for the recovery of what's presented here and
being cleaned up and put together as best as they could.
This Oswald set is certainly packed. The first disc has the featurette Oswald Comes Home,
which runs nearly 14 minutes. The somewhat bizarre story is covered
here, where in February 2006 sports commentator Al Michaels was traded
to NBC Universal. In return, Disney got Oswald The Rabbit back into the
company. Leonard Maltin narrates the story of Oswald's origins, what
made him so unique as a character and how Disney lost the rights to his
creation. Chiming in on all of this is Ub Iwerk's son, Don Ibwerks, as
well as current Disney head Robert Iger, Roy E. Disney, Diane Disney
Miller, animation historian Russell Merritt and a few others. This
amazing, convulted history is gripping and fascinating. A must-see.
Oswald also gets a few Audio Commentaries on
the shorts "The Ocean Hop," "Oh Teacher," "Oh What A Knight," "Bright
Lights," "Ozzie Of The Mounted" and "The Fox Chase." Spread across
these commentaries are Maltin, Jerry Beck and Mark Kausler. These are
phenomenal commentaries, as the men point out facts and details about
the cartoons productions, and in some cases, how they've been re-cut.
The men are clearly passionate about the lucky rabbit, and if you want
to know even more about these shorts, then they all warrant a listen.
Sadebrush Sadie (Fragment)
are two rough scenes of an Oswald film that no longer exists. The first
disc also has extensive Galleries featuring news articles, and even
The main bonus on the second disc is The Hand Behind The Mouse: The Ub Iwerks Story.
Made by his granddaughter Leslie, and narrated by actor Kelsey Grammer,
the documentary is presented in 1.33:1 full screen and English Dolby
Digital 5.1. (I actually remember seeing this on cable's Bravo channel
a few years back - before the NBC takeover.) This is a very engrossing
and thoughtful documentary about Iwerks, how talented he was and the
influence he had on Walt Disney's talents and his career. The film also
sheds light on Iwerks's other creations (Flip The Frog, and the Xerox
process on animation cels to skip the inking process), his trajectory
as an animation pioneer and how his studio grew in comparisons to
Walt's after their humble beginnings. Many industry veterans and
historians are interviewed to help tell the story. Any fan of the
history of animation will certainly love this documentary.
After viewing the documentary, you can then watch The Work Of Ub Iwerks,
featuring classic Disney projects before Oswald (the Alice cartoons)
and after (such as early Mickey classics). It's clear just how
influential his animation techniques were.
is a true piece of Disney history, and an astounding collection to boot
- it's amazing that the Disney company were able to recover some
versions of many of the Oswald shorts. This set also gives a lot of
context to Oswald's place in Disney lore, and just how important he
was. Disney collectors are sure to eat every ounce of this set up. Out
of all the Walt Disney Treasures sets that have been released, this one
certainly ranks toward the top.