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First, let me trot out my creds. I took a PhD in combinatorial mathematics
from Ohio State in 1986. I'm going to claim this is relevant for two
reasons: one, that this cartoon is based upon some deep and beautiful
mathematics; that this material can open up into deeper study for any
student, from junior high to postgraduate.
The second is that this can open up mathematics for kids, and I will offer myself as an example. I remember seeing this when I was pretty young, and really got hooked on the bit about learning to play pool "by the Diamond method". It offered that math was "a lot more than just two times two", and that it was cool to study math.
The cartoon focuses deeply on non-arithmetic aspects of math, and that is welcome. Even as an adult, I still find it entertaining, but would be something I would give to any kid I cared about to expose him to the art behind math.
Buy it for the kids, or for yourself. But be prepared to study number theory and algebraic geometry, if you follow the leads -- rich material awaits... and as the cartoon notes, there are still many other doors to open and new things to discover...
I first saw this wonderful film in school in the early 60's. For
several years it was an "annual event". Considering I was never in the
same school district twice in a row, it was fascinating to see what
grade level each district thought it was for.
It gives a clear and understandable approach to the question of "What is math (arithmatic) good for anyway?" Fun, musically diverse, and perhaps a bit silly, it stands the test of time. Paul Frees' outstanding narration allows the youngers to enjoy the fun of the movie, and the olders to understand the concepts.
It also explained how to calculate a bank shot on a billiard (or pool) table using the spots. heh.
This animated documentary was an excellent combination of entertainment and education and is a real feather in Disney's cap. Most people have varying degrees of either disinterest or dislike of mathematics. This renders math comprehensible as well as making it fun and interesting-a combination most of my math instuctors were either unwilling or unable to accomplish. After 41 years plus, this doesn't feel the least bit dated. I'm glad to see it's available. Three cheers for the mouse (and the duck too, though I must confess that, for the most part, Donald leaves me cold. Not here, though.). Most recommended.
I am not going to say that this is Donald's absolute best, being a fan
of his, as there are so many cartoons of his that are real gems, but
Donald in Mathmagic Land has been a personal favourite of mine for a
while now. True, there isn't much of a story, if there is one it is
very simple, and there isn't a nicely rounded ending as such. But what
I do love about Donald in Mathmagic Land is that it is different, it is
unique, it is educational for kids and it is really enjoyable. In fact
it actually makes maths fun, and I do confess maths was one of my least
favourite subjects at school, for example I never got my head
completely around algebra. Even if there are minor flaws with the story
and ending there is so much that compensates.
There is some stunning art work that is somewhat inventive, and I think it has held up well over 40+ years, there is a fun music score, there are some funny moments such as Donald's quibbling with the omniscient narrator and there is outstanding vocal work from Paul Frees and Clarence "Ducky" Nash. Overall, if you love Disney and you love Donald Duck, plus if you want something educational even if you don't like the subject, just put Donald in Mathmagic Land on. 9/10 Bethany Cox
In Grade 11 Trig class, we made our teacher rent this as a going away present for the Seniors who were graduating early. This is a great example of the teaching power of film. In straightforward fashion, Donald overcomes his fear of numbers through illustrative examples. Plus, it teaches kids to play pool! Learn to use the diamonds on the table, and you too can improve your game with geometry and simple arithmetic. Recommended!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have never really been a fan of Disney. Don't get me wrong, there are
some Disney films that I like, but to be honest I didn't dig Mickey
Mouse and Co. (Sorry, but I am a true Looney Tunes fan). However, there
are always exceptions (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, The Lion King and
Beauty And The Beast among them). A good case in point is "Donald in
Mathmagic Land." Growing up, I saw it every year and enjoyed it more
Donald isn't a math fan. A voice tells and shows him that math is an integral part of our life (Chess, Billards and Shapes). You have your typical Disney humor in it, but it teaches you a valuable lesson: no matter what someone tells you, math IS important in every aspect of our lives and that you can never escape it.
It's a great way to get your kids to understand the magic of math.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
One of the greatest films of all time. well, maybe one of the greatest
educational films of all time.
Disney could always make educational films fun and entertaining, and next to his 'Man in Space' series, this is his best. definitely his most timeless since some of the information in the 'Space' series is now dated. only problem is, this is so entertaining you just kick back and watch the cool retro animation and forget to take in the math lesson.
Donald Duck quacks,squeaks and squawks his adorable little self through a succession of colorfully presented math lessons ending with a quote from Galileo that's intended to inspire awe and make us ponder the universe. I would have, but I was still too busy thinking about how cute Donald looked. especially when he was playing pool against a live action background.
Donald in Mathmagicland is the Alice in Wonderland of educational
cartoons. It makes very little sense, and to explain the nonsensical
happenings, is the simple fact that this is mathMAGICland. If you're
into some strong story telling, this is not for you, but if you want an
entertaining and educational Disney flick, than this one is for you.
Donald Duck is transported to Mathmagicland. In this land, various happenings in normal life are explained through math, and an ominous voice talks to Donald, voiced by Paul Frees. Donald learns how instrument strings are mathematically designed, and how the game of chess in a math process, how the game of pool can be mathematically calculated, and much more.
This is not much of a story. It makes no sense, and has no real ending, but it's still a great short. The animation is fantastic. The animation features constant morphing of shapes and it's hard to imagine that these animators could use these techniques 50 years ago. The live action is thrown in well, also. The scene where they teach how to calculate pool is the most interesting in the movie, and the mixture of live action pool and Donald Duck looks excellent, and is a nice throwback to techniques used in Donald's earlier picture "The Three Caballeros".
Paul Frees is an excellent narrator, and Donald Duck is the perfect character to send to this inexplicable math land. The animation is great, and this educational Disney film is brilliantly animated and very informative.
My rating: *** 1/2 out of ****. 30 mins.
"Donald in Mathmagic Land" is the sort of cartoon that math teachers
have been showing their students for years. It's a case of bait and
switch, as important scientific and mathematics concepts of contained
here...and it looks like fun since it stars Donald Duck. While this
does make the material more palatable, it still is a well made but
rather dry film.
When it all begins, Donald wanders into an odd land where there are lots of numbers and symbols. Suddenly, the narrator (Paul Frees*) begins talking about Pythagoras and geometry. Donald, inexplicably, finds this all very fascinating and this isn't completely surprising as the concepts are explained in ways that normal folks could understand--such as the use of geometry in games such as football and billiards. By the end of the film, Donald has been thoroughly convinced how swell math is and the viewer, hopefully, is still awake.
I am a bit cynical about this one. Considering what the film is trying to get across, it does it in about as entertaining a fashion as possible. And, the artwork is very nice. But it's STILL a relatively dry topic and kids hoping to see Donald up to his usual antics will no doubt feel a bit let down by it all. Not a bad film at all...and one that was nominated for an Oscar, by the way.
*Frees is also the voice of the narrator in Disney's Haunted Mansion at Disneyland and Disneyworld. He also is the voice of Boris in old Bullwinkle cartoon.
In a strange and gloomy place, a giant shadow breaks into the darkness,
a reassuring presence: it's our good old friend Donald Duck, with a
shotgun and a safari hat, seems like he's ready for an odyssey. But
what a strange opening, numbers lie on the ground, trees have
(literally) square roots and a weird bird-like creature made of a
triangle, a square and a circle recites Pi (with a mistake in the
numbers' sequence from what I read). This is where Donald calls someone
and a voice answers him. This is Paul Frees, the narrator of this
glorious journey in the world of Mathematics.
But Donald is immediately turned off; this is eggheads' stuff, which shows the lucidity of the writers regarding the initial reception the film would receive, especially among schools' pupils. And till now, how many people, almost proudly, declare they hate math or never got it. But how many of them became athletes, musicians, artists or botanists? This is one of the greatest lessons of "Donald in Mathmagic Land", math is everywhere, and those who don't feel too hot about it might underestimate how daily exposed they are to the world of numbers and geometry.
So, Donald couldn't have been more wrong, and without asking for permission, the voice takes him to Ancient Greece, when Pythagoras invented music through a simple use of divisions applied to a string, obtaining a different sound depending on the portion you plunk, the genesis of the scale of music we're all familiar with. Then the film transitions from Pythagoras to the pentagram, the sign of recognition he used with his disciples, a form that contains great applications in Arts and architecture. The film turns to a more playful tone, with a few insights on the use of math in games, sport and geometric forms in the real world. Finally, the conclusion acknowledges that math hasn't revealed all their secrets, and the boundlessness of human mind might welcome new discoveries.
Indeed, while I was checking on Youtube comments, I was fascinated by the way everyone seems to have a story with "Donald in Mathmagic Land". Some had their first encounter with the film from a school (old-school) projector, others had it in a low quality VHS, a few vaguely remember a weird Donald Duck cartoon full of geometric forms, documentary footage and some stuff about music and games. Yet what do these people have in common? They were overwhelmed by a nostalgic feeling when finally rediscovering the short film on a device that relies on binary programming, math again, and for such a magical (nostalgia-inducing) feeling mathmagic, indeed.
Still, I read some comments on IMDb complaining that the film failed to deliver its premise and betrayed a sort of intellectual pretension from Disney studios. Well, I don't think of any cartoon who took the same challenge after this one, and the film is so didactic and pedagogical that it's very likely to raise an interest on math, so what's the problem? And speaking of my personal experience, although I had this film recorded at the age of 8n (it was the Disney Channel and the program was always closing with a longer feature), well it's only as I was growing up, that my passion for mathematics grew and my interest for this short grew as well.
I was not just good at math, math made me curious and playful. There was something fascinating in that flawless universe where certitudes were absolute, a world of real application, yet all made of abstractions, the greatest challenge human intelligence ever had, one that shaped our universe, our history in its most appealing forms: nature, music, sports, beauty and progress. There's nothing that doesn't owe something to Math.
And it's all a matter of proportions, like the Golden rectangle, the figure that keeps the same proportions, everything obeys the same rules, and what applies on the vast universal scale, applies to nature and human body. The gravity operates on the planets as well as billiard balls; a big wheel moves a car while a small one makes a telephone work. The same proportions of a musical scale can be indirectly found in a tree's form. And when I finally got the pentagram part at the age of 17, I immediately took a paper sheet to check by myself the properties. It was magical.
This is a ubiquity one can't ignore, and it's remarkable how the essential about math is provided in less than half an hour. Esthetically, the film finds the perfect pedagogical note, swinging back and forth between real-life footage, cartoons, and schematic explanations. I didn't notice it back then, because I didn't much care for the times of release, but now in 2016, I can't help but feel a weird sadness watching these images, because they were meant as contemporary illustrations, but now, the movie itself has become a past relic of its own present, dated because it ended before the greatest revolution mathematics would provide: computer's binary programs with all their 0 and 1.
But to his credit, the narrator tells us that the applications of math are infinite, you can't confine them in a chamber or a limited space, let alone a short cartoon, only the mind is boundless enough to contain all the possible knowledge. The film is much aware on that, and therefore closes on this note with this great quote from Galileo: "Mathematics is the alphabet with which God has written the universe". So, as long as there will be a universe, there will be this universal language, and people from all over the world enriching our civilization on the field of Arts and Sciences.
And with his limited screen-time, Walt Disney studios wrote the greatest tribute to mathematics, a marvel of edutainment that certainly encouraged many vocations, as sure as eggheads are eggheads.
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