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|Kevin Krock, editor|
This release of "Make Mine Music" is the first time it has been available on home video, and I was looking forward to watching it in its entirety for the first time. I've seen the other two post-World War II "package" pictures ("Fun and Fancy Free" and "Melody Time"), and found them to be kind of interesting. I figured "Make Mine Music" would provide the same basic content and appeal. The original feature contained a series of ten short animated sections that were tied together by the their musical theme. The original ten sections in their theatrical order were:
I never saw the original theatrical release or any re-releases, but I remember seeing a few of the individual sections as parts of other collections or separately on the Disney Channel. I figured that seeing them all together again, in the way that Walt wanted them, was going to be a bit of a treat.
Since it had been a while since I read about the various sections of this movie, I popped the DVD in my player and picked up my copies of Leonard Maltin's book "The Disney Films" and John Grant's "Encyclopedia of Walt Disney's Animated Characters". After checking out the menus and the "bonus material," I started up the movie, and saw a screen that read:
I vaguely remembered hearing about something being cut from this movie when it was released on home video a little while ago, but I couldn't quite remember what it was... First, the credits rolled by, and the first animation section, "Blue Bayou" started. I thought to myself, "That's not supposed to be the first section! I think I already found the content edit." and I had.
Disney has completely removed "The Martins and the Coys" segment for unspecified reasons (most likely for the "hillbilly" characterizations or the family feud violence and shooting). If I didn't have my books, I wouldn't have realized the edit, and I'm sure most people don't realize that the entire section is missing. The other thing that I wondered about was how Disney removed all references to this from the credits, so I watched the beginning of the movie several times.
The first thing I noticed was the removal of The King's Men from the list of musicians. The musician section of the credits has the names of the acts individually light up on a marquee as they scroll up. As the list approaches the end, the second to last credit does not light up (it is actually covered up by a black digitally placed box).
The last "credit" edit was on the "program" that is displayed right before the movie starts. The program page originally said "A Music Fantasy in Ten Parts," but now, purple digital "paint" covers the "in Ten Parts." So, without a reference to the musicians and a hint that one of the ten sections was eliminated, the credits were also successfully edited to hide the change. As I mentioned, without prior knowledge about the contents of the movie or a reference book to help, these changes do not impact the movie.
From a historical perspective, I'm disappointed that "The Martins and the Coys" was not included. I think any of the old Disney features need to be viewed with the proper historical context, and maybe if Disney had included a "Bonus" section or a commentary track that provided the intended perspective, they could have felt comfortable including all of the movie pieces. However, as the Gold Collection movies are primarily intended for viewing by kids, it was probably easier and less expensive to just remove the potentially "offensive" material.The Goodies...
Keep in mind, this is one of the Gold Collection titles, so don't expect a lot of goodies. The DVD Storybook and Trivia Game are the same features as those on other Disney DVDs. The Storybook is an abbreviated version of the story in a book format. The story can either be read by the viewer, or a narrate can read the story to the viewer. It's nice to have, especially for kids, but it wouldn't make or break my decision to by a DVD. The same holds true for the trivia game... Once you answer the questions correctly, there is no reason to ever try it again. As I said, kids enjoy these features, so while they won't hold an adult's attention for more than a couple of minutes, they'll probably divert kids' attention for a bit longer.
Disney has also included three music-related cartoons. The first is the classic Mickey Mouse short, "The Band Concert." The second and third cartoons are the Silly Symphonies "Farmyard Symphony" and "Music Land." They are nice to have on the DVD, and they illustrate Disney's early interest in combining the art of animation with classical music. Unfortunately, without some explanation of what they are or when they were made, the animation may appear fairly primitive to kids, and they probably won't hold a kid's attention very long.
Overall, these are the standard features for a Disney Gold Collection DVD, and they just come up a bit short relative to what many other studios provide as "standard" goodies.The Video, Audio and Interface...
This is a fairly old movie, but the film print that was used for the transfer was in pretty good shape. The video looked pretty good, but I think on most TVs you would be hard pressed to see a significant difference between the VHS and DVD versions.
Sound-wise, there really isn't much to say. It is a simple mono soundtrack that sounds clean and clear. Given that the audio from the original was mono and Disney wants to release most of their catalog of movies for as little as possible, remastering the movie for anything more than mono would be cost prohibitive. It's a bit of a disappointment because I think there are several sections that could greatly benefit from a bit of audio enhancement.
As with most Gold Collection DVDs, the user interface is also pretty simple, straight forward and uninspiring. No music, no sounds, no animated menus. Selecting movie chapters from the menus is easy, and changing the set up for the three different audio language tracks and two subtitle functions is equally easy.
Speaking of video previews... With the introduction of the Gold Collection DVDs, Disney also introduced the DVD world to force- fed cross- promotional advertisements, and "Make Mine Music" is no different than the others. After you put the disc in the player, several ads for other Disney releases are automatically played. There's no way to completely bypass them and go directly to the menu or movie, but, thankfully, you can skip through them one- by- one (for now...). Unfortunately, it's just as annoying as having to fast forward through a videotape full of them, but on DVD you can jump through them much more quickly than on VHS.
I don't think it's bad to have previews on a DVD, but, like many other studios, Disney should simply make them available to the viewer (as they have from the main menu) and not forced upon them as soon as they pop the disc in the player.
The Final Evaluation...
The movie was a rather eclectic collection of music and animation styles, and there are a few great sections. The goody package is "standard" for a Disney Gold Collection, but comes up short relative to other DVDs. Technically, the video and audio are adequate, and the menus are no big deal.
If you are a fan of classic Disney animation and can overlook the omission of "The Martins and the Coys," then you should make this a rental. A couple of the sections are worth a repeat viewing, but overall, there just isn't enough to justify the purchase cost. It ended up being a bit of a disappointment for what I hoped to be a nice addition to my collection.
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