This is the second volume of Pluto cartoons, here going from 1947 to the end of the series in 1951. The neat thing about these themed collections in the Wald Disney Treasures series is that they highlight particular strengths in Disney’s animation. Thus, if the Silly Symphonies sets focus on the marriage of movement with music, the Pluto cartoons are wonders of pantomime, since the central character doesn’t speak. Pluto is not a jot less communicative for not using words, however, and the sight gags involved in some of his facial expressions (such as when wearing the unwanted “Pluto’s Sweater”) are priceless. Pluto’s frequent sidekick Figaro the cat has the spotlight to himself in three bonus cartoons.
The original mono is the only option here, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. It is crisp and clean, with no distortion or static, and in those instances where there is dialogue, there is no buzz. The music, too, is problem-free, and the volume level is fine. Really, one couldn’t ask for much more.
The prints may not be in perfect shape, in that there is some speckling and a bit of grain. Neither issue is severe, though, and the shorts are barely showing their age. The colours are terrific, with brilliant contrasts and blacks, and the image is extremely sharp. All in all, a nice job.
I confess to being a bit disappointed once again. I thought the latest Silly Symphonies collection could have had a bit more, but this set is even skimpier. Where the former had multiple commentary tracks, here there are none. Instead, there are two “Master Class” features on Disc 1, which are a cross between a commentary and an interview, and have current animators discuss one of the shorts. The better of the two is Andreas Deja’s examination of “Hawaiian Holiday,” which spends less time describing what we can manifestly see than Randy Cartwright’s piece on “Bone Trouble.” “Pluto’s Process” allows us to see the pencil test of “Pluto’s Judgement Day” on its own, or, if you select “A Deconstruction of Pluto’s Judgement Day,” in conjunction with sketches and the finished cartoon. Otherwise, that’s it. The only extras are Disc 2 are the previously mentioned bonus shorts and three art galleries: “Pluto’s Backgrounds,” “Pluto’s Progress” and “Pluto Published.”
There is no doubt that the cartoons alone make this a valuable collection, but why are the extras becoming less and less generous?
Special Features List
- Animation Master Class
- Pencil Test
- A Deconstruction of Pluto’s Judgement
- Bonus Cartoons