Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Don't Mickey Mouse with My Mickey Mouse

This link will take you to an article by Al Lutz that should be of special interest to anyone visiting this blog who collects the "Walt Disney Treasures" DVD releases. The article appears on the MiceAge site, which bills itself as "A Different Look at Disney," and takes Leonard Maltin to task for his sponsorship of a series of releases that have been plagued by inconsistencies and unkept promises. My own interest in the series has been limited, so I found the information collected here to be eye-opening in a not altogether happy way.

As someone who's been involved in a number of DVD releases myself, I can well understand Leonard's stance in all this, and I'm sympathetic. It's true that the experts about these films are often ("often"? always!) kept remote and removed from the actual production of the discs, and therefore have no control over the look or content of the final result. Someone on the Mobius Home Video Forum once asked me if my participation in a DVD release -- providing audio commentary, writing liner notes, or whatever -- should be considered an endorsement of that release. My truthful answer was "Not necessarily." As a matter of fact, I've written liner notes or box copy for movies I don't particularly like; I do this to give myself some extra spending money, and I only accept these side jobs if I feel I can bring some insight or expertise to the assignment, a way of explaining why these films might be of interest to someone else.

But Leonard's involvement with the "Walt Disney Treasures" series has been far more extensive. He not only conceived the line and sold Disney on undertaking it, he introduces each set and his face and name are plastered all over each (pricey) set. Therefore, while I'm understanding of Leonard's situation in relation to Disney as a company (and I would imagine it's a more forbidding company than most), I agree with Al Lutz that the extra dimensions of his involvement are indicative of his active participation and approval, tantamount to his personal assurance as an authority that these releases have been painstakingly restored and are absolutely uncut... which is, unfortunately, not the case.

Sometimes taking the money should mean taking the responsibility. And, with all due respect to one of animation's great scholars, this would appear to be one of those times.

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