Animation Legend Winsor McCay
Slingshot DVD - Catalog ID DVD9817
Released: January 12, 1999
Running Time: 100 minutes
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo
B&W with color segments
No region coding
Those of you interested in the history and evolution of animation will be fascinated by this collection of every surviving film by animation pioneer Winsor McCay. Made in the 1910s and 20s, when animation was still a novelty, these films proved that animation could be more than a series of crudely drawn figures and sight gags. They proved that animation could be an art form. For the first time, animated drawings had a personality ("Gertie the Dinosaur"); they had the power to sway people's opinions ("The Sinking of the Lusitania"), and they were able to send people on fantastic voyages that they never dreamed possible ("The Flying House"). Audiences of the time could barely believe what they were seeing, because it was all so new. Since these cartoons were made at a time when the basic components of animation (storyboards, cels, ink & paint) had not yet been devised, the quality of these films is incredibly impressive.
Considering the fact that some of these films are nearly 90 years old, the picture quality is nothing short of astounding. Though film scratches are plentiful, they do not detract from the enjoyment of these historical landmarks. Each film is presented in the window-box format (a black border surrounds the picture), which prevents any part of the image from being lost to the "overscan" effect of most televisions. Though the window-boxing may be distracting at first, if you watch with your room lights off you will begin to forget that it's there. The musical score is adequate, but as with many silent films it can become a bit repetitive. My biggest disappointment was that the "extensive liner notes" promised on the back of the case were nowhere to be found inside. Either they were missing only in my copy, or they were left out of every copy.
Yes, it can be somewhat tedious to watch these slow-paced and meticulous cartoons all in one sitting. But seen individually, one can't help but marvel at the talent and creativity of the man who made them. I definitely recommend adding this DVD to your collection.
Note: This DVD was originally issued by Lumivision, but has been re-issued by Slingshot DVD. The Lumivision version is now out-of-print, but the contents of both versions are exactly the same. You can view the front cover and back cover of the Lumivision issue.
"Gertie the Dinosaur"
"The Sinking of the Lusitania"