Monday, December 1, 2008
Walt Disney’s True-Life Adventures Volume 4
If you enjoyed Walt Disney’s True life Adventures Volumes 1, 2 and 3, then you will probable enjoy Walt Disney’s True-Life adventure Vol. 4, the last volume in the series.
This set may not seem to have as much material as the previous volumes, but it does have rarer films, not often mentioned as The Living Desert or The Vanishing Prarie. The programs running times on vol. 4 are a bit longer than some of the other True-Life Adventure short films. This is the set I would imagine may be the future collectible volume, as I have not seen this set in stores, as often as I have run across volumes 1 and 2 of the True-Life sets.
This set contains the only Disney “True-life Fantasy” called Perri about the adventures of a young female squirrel. Unlike the other Disney nature films, this piece had a predetermined story line, written by Felix Salten who wrote the Disney feature animated masterpiece Bambi (1942). While filming Perri the Disney photographers were witness to a forest fire, and helped douse the flames. Footage of this event was presented on an episode of the Disneyland TV series. Which is presented on this DVD set. Any Disney home video release containing any Disneyland episode excerpts immediately finds a place in my video library.
Secrets of Life, is featured on this set, and contains some of the first stop motion photography of plants growing. Shot using macro photography on insects such as ants, the film is truly quiet remarkable when paired with the incomparable Disney story telling.
All the True-Life Adventures were shot with 16mm cameras, there-fore the prints tend to be scratchy, especially if you viewed one of these films for the first time at school in the 60s or 70s, as so many of us were exposed to the True-Life Adventures in that way. Fortunately, through modern technology these films have been restored and are crisp and clear, looking better than ever.
Disc two continues the tradition of the exceptional bonus features, which have been an essential addition to these True-Life Adventures DVD sets. Included are several enjoyable films: Searching for Nature’s Mysteries, Adventure in Wild Wood Heart and another Academy Award Winning film in 1951 for best short subject: Nature’s Half Acre. The section of the film documenting the habits of bees took over three years to photograph. Which is understandable, as bees probable don’t take direction very well.
Continuing the tradition originating on this series is the “Filmmaker’s Journal”, a look at the making the films featured on this volume and “Collector’s Corner”. In addition to yet another segment of “Backstage with Roy Disney” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park, learning about butterflies.
A very special bonus feature is a tribute to Winston Hibler who was the narrorator for all the True-Life Adventures. Mr. Hibler’s voice is that of legend. The volume of work this artist produced while at Disney is truly impressive. This short documentary features his grandsons, Chris Hibler and Winston Murray Hunt Hibler the second, examining their grandfather’s Oscars, archived at the Disney Studios, for the first time. Winston Hibler was a writer, producer and director at Disney. His contributions are vast, and it is surprising he has not been mentioned more as he was a contributor to so many Disney masterpieces. Winston Hibler has story credits on Sleeping Beauty and Peter Pan. He wrote Sleepy Hollow, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, Johnny Appleseed and Walt’s opening dedication at Disneyland, to name but a few of his contributions. He is perhaps best known for his voice over narration, a fact his family members feel sells him short. He never took any payment for his voice over work. He is a true renaissance artist and was honored as a Disney legend in 1993, though he passed in 1976. It is documentaries such as this, featuring the artists who made up the Disney empire that make these DVDs worth their weight in gold.
Roy Disney appears again throughout this set. He is a welcomed addition as some of his first production experiences were on True-Life Adventure productions. I wouldn’t mind at all if he got more involved with the company these days and became the official company spokes-person. Heck any member of the Disney family is better than some outsider, he was there in person when some amazing events in the companies hstory went down. He is a fascinating individual, as he is a true adventurer himself. The resemblance he has to his uncle doesn’t hurt either. Perhaps now with changes made with-in the Disney Company, we will see more of Roy Disney Jr. I had the pleasure of meeting him while I was documenting a lecture he was giving about his interests in sailing. The vibe he puts out is exciting as he was a part of the era of Disney history that is truly worth studying.