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I saw this as a Special Feature on the 1934 "Treasure Island" DVD, and
was captivated by the charming story. Bookended between the live action
opening and closing shots of a hand opening and closing a storybook
book--a common devise for these cartoons, and with no dialogue--simply
a delightful score by Scott Bradley based on Richard Strauss's
classic--the film portrays a fawn and satyr gambolling and skylarking
in the woods, and is filled with humor, drama, excitement, and brought
tears to my eyes.
It's really a wonderful example of the disappearing art of animated film making that has been taken over by computer effects. The opening shot of the fawn drinking from the pond in reflection, with the falling leaves and butterflies was breathtaking, and there were other scenes that likewise remained in my memory and have brought smiles to my face in idle retrospect.
"Treasure Island" was cool, the best version of the story ever made, but this short animated special alone was worth the price of the purchase.
This is one of several extras that were included with the MGM film
"Treasure Island"--all from 1934 and all from MGM. When Turner
Entertainment releases classic MGM and Warner Brothers films, they
usually include several shorts from the same year the full-length film
was released--a nice selling point for the DVDs.
Of all the extras, this is my least favorite. Much of the problem was a product of the times, as in the 1930s most cartoons were pretty insipid--with lots of cute singing and dancing and almost no humor. The one glaring exception were the Mickey Mouse and highly repetitive Popeye cartoons. Otherwise, MGM had their Harmon-Ising singing cartoons (yick) and Looney Tunes and the rest were pretty much duplicating the Harmon-Ising formula...making most of them pretty hard to take today. While this IS a Harmon-Ising cartoon, at least there is no singing--just a nice musical accompaniment by Johannes Strauss. It consists of the adventures of a magical fawn that is a statue by night and becomes a living creature by daylight--along with his friend, a young deer. Through much of the film, it's hard to understand why the deer likes the fawn, as he pretty much mistreats him--though by the end the fawn proves the power of friendship (gag).
The viewer will no doubt be struck by the oddly limited pallet of the Cinecolor process. While later Cinecolor films looked better, this one is also identical to the rival Two-Color Technicolor process--one that rendered everything either a shade of orange or green! True color this certainly WAS NOT! Later Cinecolor improved, though a true color pallet took them years to perfect. This ugly color combined with an okay story but decent music make for a cartoon that is easy to skip today--but a tad better than the norm from non-Disney studios.
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