After years of being stuck in cartoon limbo, time has smiled upon Disney's original cartoon star, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, not only giving him a home in the House of Mouse, but also blessing him with an official DVD collection of his earliest landmark adventures in silent cartoons.
The first disc covers 13 of the existing Disney made Oswald cartoons, reconstructed and restored from the best existing sources. While I at first expected to write off these cartoons as outdated and only interesting for historical purposes, my initial viewings of them proved me wrong-for cartoons that are well over 80 years old and going, they have aged surprisingly well. The well executed personality driven gags keep the shorts afloat, along with the crisp pacing and some lovely animation and art, courtesy of Ub Iwerks. It's really easy to see where and how Disney draws its roots from these cartoons, and it's such a pleasure to see the roots in question-and what sweet roots they are! And while these are technically silent cartoons, newly composed musical scores have been created for these cartoons (courtesy of silent film composer Robert Israel) and their addition is welcomed-they're very well done and add a whole new layer of life to these short subjects. Extras in disc 1 include a brief featurette on Oswald's comeback to Disney in 2006, a Gallery of cool images from Oswald's heydey, some nice audio commentaries from guys like Mark Kausler, Jerry Beck and Leonard Maltin, and a pencil test of one of the lost Oswald cartoons "Sagebrush Sadie".
Disc 2 is easily the highlight of the collection however, serving as a tribute to legendary animator Ub Iwerks. The best part of the disc is the Leslie Iwerks documentary on her grandfather called ''The Hand Behind the Mouse: The Ub Iwerks Story". It's a truly wonderful one which goes into the life and career of Ub, from his roots, his own works, and his later work, and other interesting trvia. Also included are the Mickey Mouse shorts "Plane Crazy" and "Steamboat Willie", "The Skeleton Dance", and three of the early Alice Comedies shorts.
So if you want to see where Disney draws its roots from, watch a fun history lesson, or get some good cartoons for a reasonable price, this is the best place to start. Its a truly classic set that belongs in any animation buffs library.