Disney Oswald RabbitWalt Disney got screwed. Yes, he had children, but that's not what I mean get your head out of the gutter! Walt Disney, one the twentieth century's most prolific and successful visionaries, was taken over the coals and robbed of his first animated creation: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.

It's hard to believe in the modern world, with Disney being such a juggernaut company, but back at the beginning, like many grand beginnings, Walt Disney was a young guy with enormous passion, a brilliant imagination, and... no money or "industry pull." The father of Mickey Mouse, being the consummate salesman he was, managed to get some work making cartoons mixed with live action call the "Alice cartoons.' But his first forays into a fully animated character toons began with a kooky little rabbit. The cartoons were a great success, but in a fairly short stretch of time, Walt's distributor (who owned the character rights) decided it would be cheaper to cut ole Walt out of the equation, poach all his animators, and just make Oswald cartoons himself... and there was nothing Walt could do. Oswald was gone.

It wasn't until last year that the Walt Disney company managed to get Oswald back where he belongs, but justice has finally been done, and Oswald is back where he should be: with the pantheon of beloved Disney characters every living generation and then some know at a glance.

Oswald, like Walt Disney's most famous creation, Mickey Mouse, may have been (characterisation-wise) his brainchild, but they both appeared on the blank page for us to see from the pencil of one the most respected pioneers of animation in it's history: the oddly named Ub Iwerks.

Now, not more than a year since Disney reacquired Oswald, they have released the original Oswald shorts overseen by Walt himself in a deluxe two-disc DVD set. This set is aimed directly at the animation history buff, or the rabid adult Disney fan. Like many of the late 20's/early 30's cartoons, these pioneers were still finding their feet in a relatively unexplored medium, and in the twenty-first century, with the likes of Nemo and Shrek gluing our kid's eyes to the flat panel, hi-def screens, poor old Oswald ain't gonna cut the mustard with them. Oswald is a character of the Chaplin era, using slapstick and vaudevillian techniques to convey the story and gags. Kids can be so cruel, can't they? The artistry involved in creating these shorts was unprecedented at the time, and Ub Iwerks animation techniques are still employed to this day... but kids will just say, "Someone forgot to colour that in, Daddy!"

For those interested in how we got to things like Pixar's roster and Shrek etc, this is an animation holy grail. The shorts are a trip back in time, and a joy to see. There is recognizable foreshadowing of what was to come, especially Mickey Mouse; lessons on how they conveyed everything visually when "talkies' were still a couple of years off; and even the first couple of Mickey Mouse cartoons, including the firs "talkie': Steamboat Willy. There is also a documentary on the man who quietly brought both Oswald and Mickey alive on the page in most of those pioneering days: Ub Iwerks. There is always a "front man' for such a creation, but it's heartening to see the other man get his dues... after all, it's not every day you sketch out a character or two so well known a Taiwanese flea could point them out in a line up.

So, folks, while it would be ridiculous to claim that this two-disc set is for everyone, this is a fascinating and entertaining collection of material from the very birth of a company that has at one time or another touched all our lives in some way.


DVD Details:

For an animation student, historian, or Disney nut this is flavour country for all! Very generous set from the Disney peeps.

Screen Formats: 1.33:1

Subtitles: None

Language and Sound: English: Digitally Mastered, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound

Other Features: Oswald Comes Home; Audio Commentaries; Sagebrush Sadie; Still Frame Galleries; The Hand Behind The Mouse; The Work Of Ub Iwerks .

* Commentary
o The Ocean Hop (with Mark Kausler)
o Oh Teacher (with Mark Kausler)
o Oh What a Knight (with Leonard Maltin and Mark Kausler)
o Bright Lights (with Leonard Maltin and Jerry Beck)
o Ozzie of the Mounted (with Jerry Beck)
o The Fox Chase (with Jerry Beck)
* Featurettes
o Oswald Comes Home (13:52)
o Sagebrush Sadie
* Stills Gallery - Features close-up views of Oswald related artwork and memorabilia.
* Documentary:
o The Hand Behind the Mouse: The Ub Iwerks Story (01:31)
* Animated Shorts
o Alice Gets Stung
o Alice in The Wooly West
o Alice's Balloon Race
o Plane Crazy
o Steamboat Willie
o Skeleton Dance

Number of Discs: 2 region-1 discs presented in beautiful collector's tin.