Adventures Of Prince Achmed (1926/Milestone DVD)/Adventures Of Tintin – Season One (1991/Shout! Factory DVD)/Caldecott Favorites + Giving Thanks (Scholastic DVDs)/Littlest Angel (2011/Anchor Bay DVD)/Mickey Mouse Clubhouse – Space Adventures
C+/C/C+/C+/C+/C/C+ Sound: C+ Extras: B/D/C+/C+/C+/C-/C Episodes/Shorts: B/C+/B-/C+/C-/C+
holidays here, more children’s product is coming out as expected, but this
time, it includes some higher quality product for a change than the usual franchise
amazing is Lotte Reiniger’s Adventures
Of Prince Achmed, the groundbreaking 1926 German animated work that
invented the Silhouette Film and is technically the first feature-length
animated film ever made, putting it 12 years before Disney’s fully
hand-animated Snow White. This is the best surviving print of the
five-part classic that too few have seen and is just remarkable beyond
belief. Miss Reiniger would hand cut
hundreds of shapes, then match them into being fully realized plants, animals,
people, etc. and animated them. In
silhouette, you cannot see the metal studs holding them together, yet the final
product has life, character as distinctive as the stop-motion animation of Ray
Harryhausen and then she can actually tell the story with few title cards. Yes, it is a silent work, but a remarkable
work that everyone should see because it is that stunning. Go out of your way for it.
include second track with the subtitles read, terrific stills gallery, Lotte Reiniger: Homage To The Inventor Of
The Silhouette Film documentary by Ketja Raganelli that includes clips of
more films along with surviving figures and backgrounds for her various films
and a 1921 silhouette short by Reiniger called The Secret Of The Marquise,
which also turns out to be an add for a famous beauty product still in
Spielberg revival on the way, Shout! Factory is releasing Adventures Of Tintin – Season One (1991) that has not been seen as
much in the U.S. and so much so that our only previous coverage is a box set
from Australia of three feature films from 1964 – 1972 at this link:
writer liked the films even more than I did and I did like them, though I
thought the picture and sound were much better then he was giving them credit
for with exceptional color and were apparently from HD masters. This new U.S. DVD set has 13 episodes and is
lots of fun, though I think I liked the older films better. Still, there is something special and
stand-out about the ever-popular Hergé comic strip that may finally find a
permanent home in the U.S.
and this is as nice a place as any to start.
There are no extras.
latest releases from Scholastic include a box set called Caldecott Favorites and a single called Giving Thanks meant for the Holidays, though having Native
Americans on the cover and as the subject of the main short is a little
problematic considering the genocide they experienced after Europeans arrived,
but has some history to it and is narrated by Chief Jake Swamp. This also includes the Lincoln & Douglas short we covered in a separate release
(complete with the extra interview by author Nikki Giovanni), Pilgrims Of Plymouth and Hiawatha. Caldecott
Favorites offers three singles: Antarctic
Antics (with six related shorts, half of which are considered bonus shorts
for some reason), The Erza Jack Keats
Collection (also with six related shorts, half of which are considered
bonus shorts for some reason, plus Spanish tracks on two of them) and Make Way For Ducklings (with a Spanish
version of the title offering and five more shorts, two of which are considered
bonus). We’ll count the bonus shorts as
bonus even if we should not.
overly simple and silly The Littlest
Angel (2011) seems harmless on its own, though it still feels like it is
trying to hide some Bible lesson, but it is otherwise a slight CG production
about child angles in heaven and the title character has to bring his dog back
to earth with him for a mission. This is
a bit much on some levels, but we have seen worse, yet be very cautious and be
sure to go through this one before you show your child, because you may find
some of it objectionable just the same.
A study guide download is the only extra.
we have some more familiar faces. With
decent computer animation of the classic characters, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse – Space Adventures is a charming, fun,
child-safe release that puts the classic gang in space, though not for the
first time but in an up-to-date way.
Like some other shows on TV now, Mickey talks directly to the audience
and asks them to answer back. Nice to
see the characters hold up so well and the company keeping them that way. Extras include a regular bonus episode of the
show called “Goofy’s Thinking Cap”,
Digital Copy for PC and PC portable devices and glow-in-the-dark sticker sheet that
works well enough.
X 1 black and white image on Achmed
is about as good as it is going to look for its age and in this format, though
it is an image that is often tinted, while the color picture on the various Scholastic shorts have their share of
aliasing, staircasing and softness from short to short, but the same image
across all the Tintin episodes have even more plus digital combing that makes
no sense and holds back its picture quality.
That’s sad because the color is good.
The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Angel is the softest of all between the style chosen, this transfer
and the lack of advanced CG technology to make it in the first place, while the
same 1.78 on Mickey is a little
soft, but also colorful and more like moderate CG productions not from
Pixar. All are here in Dolby Digital 2.0
Stereo, save the Dolby 5.1 on Angel,
but it has a very limited sound design, so you get productions ranging from
1926 to date (or 85 years!) and less sound difference than you might expect.
- Nicholas Sheffo