Silly Symphonies


.....The Silly Symphonies stand as Disney's most important work, as it was there that the art of Disney, and with it, the art of animation itself was developed over a ten-year period. However, as was the case with the Disney's Best volume, the original Cartoon Classics series took away many (read: all) of Disney's best options for this tape, including the first and last of the Silly Symphonies: "The Skeleton Dance" and the 1939 re-make of "The Ugly Duckling". And, with the artwork on the back of the packaging featuring a horribly off-model version of the tape's most marketable short ("The Cookie Carnival"), things are pretty much screwed here. It's unfortunate, since the Silly Symphonies were, and still are, one of the finest sets of cartoons ever produced by any studio, and for something labelled as a "Limited Gold Edition", I should be mentioning "The Skeleton Dance", "Flowers and Trees", "The Three Little Pigs", "The Wise Little Hen", "The Cookie Carnival", "The Old Mill", and "The Ugly Duckling". Instead, thanks to prior video releases, I'm speaking of only one of the seven Silly Symphonies that I would have included on this tape. Running Time: Approx. 54 Minutes


Silly Symphonies Intro (Warning: BIG file! Requires StuffIt Expander or equivalent to open; *.avi format/*.zip archive): ssintro


Introduction - Whoah! Talk about a shocker! Probably because of the extreme length of the actual shorts on this tape, the intro has been cut nearly in half. While I agree with some of the edits, I probably would have handled the edits around the story of Mickey much differently (i.e., not including the snippet from "Haunted House"-which says something when you consider just how much I love that cartoon). Quite possibly the best example of why most Disney cartoon video releases after the conclusion of the Limited Gold Editions didn't include involved introductions.
"Bird in the Spring" - A colorful (if somewhat unremarkable) Silly Symphony, this short features some surprisingly detailed background for a 1933 short. Still, the short is nothing special, but the print used is in pretty good shape nonetheless.
"The China Shop" - A secondary title card (which totally flaunts the spectrum of three-strip Technicolor) is but one of many interesting things in this rather lively cartoon. Perhaps most stunning is the quality of the reflections (which are hand drawn, it should be noted) seen as the characters dance on the glass table. And again, such an old short is transferred with stunning excellence.
"The Flying Mouse" - For a company built on stories about dreams coming true, this short is a bit of a shocker, with its distinct message against such things (even if the upside is that the mouse is encouraged to "Be yourself," at the end of the short). One has to wonder if this short was one of those big mistakes that Walt Disney stated his studio made on the road to honing their art. Still, the cartoon looks good, and there's no denying the appeal of the mouse who wishes to fly.
"The Cookie Carnival" - One of the all-time great Silly Symphonies, and an important stepping stone in the production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The Cookie Queen here and her beau are but two of the wonderful characters on display in this vibrant cartoon. While some may foolishly decry the somewhat stereotypical cookies seen, the rest of us marvel at this wonderful short. The only bad thing? The print used for this tape is visibly worn in places-no surprise when you consider that it must have been released time and again.
"Woodland Café" - This lively short is not only the source of the cover art for this volume, but is a wonderful celebration of the Jazz era and the Harlem Renaissance. As such, many of the characters can be seen as stereotypically black. However, any stereotypes are meant to be anything but harmful here. The short itself, however, fares much worse, as the colors are noticeably faded-and next to the excellent stretch and squash animation seen within and the music, this is the most vital aspect of the cartoon.
"Moth and the Flame" - Two very charming moths inhabit this cartoon, which takes places in a workshop eerily reminiscent of Gepetto's workshop as seen in Pinocchio. A faded re-release print can't counter the charms of this wonderful little epic, which displays the talents of an incredibly capable Disney Studio.
"Farmyard Symphony" - A much more vibrant reissue print is used for this Fantasia preamble (which starts right on top of the last note of "Moth and the Flame"). Perhaps the first cartoon to capably use Liszt's Second Hungarian Rhapsody before Friz Freleng would make it his own with "Rhapsody in Rivets" and his Bugs Bunny masterpiece "Rhapsody Rabbit", this cartoon is animation as high art.

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