Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|David Hand's Animaland|
Genres: Kids & Family, Anime & Manga, Animation
Lost for nearly fifty years, this collection contains nine animated short stories produced and directed by David Hand, one of the creative talents behind such legendary Disney features as "Snow White" and "Fantasia." Avail... more »
A fascinating glimpse into a nearly forgotten animated world
Joseph Ekaitis | Southern California | 05/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A film archivist in Burbank, California named Ken Kramer bought several reels of movie film, paying $50 to the guy who was selling them just to get rid of him. The haul was mostly movie trailers. Then, he struck pure cinematic gold. Four of the reels contained a series of theatrical cartoons that were thought to have been lost forever. The 9 cartoons had the look and feel of vintage 1940s Disney with a liberal splash of Looney Tunes lunacy. Each was identified as "A David Hand ANIMALAND Cartoon".
A phone call to Leonard Maltin revealed David Hand to be the same David Hand who was Walt Disney's supervising director of the animated features "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" and "Bambi". After progressing as far as he could in the enforced anonymity of the Disney studios, Hand was lured to England by J. Arthur Rank to establish a similar animation studio on the British Isles. The "Animaland" cartoons were released theatrically in Europe but could never find an American distributor, possibly because of pressure from Warner Bros., MGM and Hand's former employer, one Walter Elias Disney, all of whom had their own thriving animation divisions.
When the Rank Organisation closed Hand's studio, the fate of the "Animaland" cartoons remained a mystery for the past 50 years. Hand returned to the USA and turned his back on animation. He spent most of the rest of his career producing industrial training films. In Europe, 4 "Animaland" cartoons eventually turned up and were released on home video overseas. They were thought to be the ONLY extant specimens.
Flash forward to Ken Kramer's incredible find. The 9 cartoons are, to date, the biggest collection from the series. The good news is that David Hand's son, David Hale Hand, agreed to their release on home video in the USA. Since David Hale Hand owns the American rights to his father's work, there are even plans for an animated feature film starring the cast of the "Animaland" cartoons.
Many of the cartoons feature Ginger Nutt, a fiery red squirrel who's easily as cute as Thumper the rabbit from "Bambi" but can be intimidating enough to fend off the 3 forest troublemakers Corny Crow, Dusty Mole and Loopy Hare. Ginger Nutt's love interest is a female squirrel named Hazel. The rest of the cartoons are one-shots with obbligatory production numbers about such species as the cuckoo, the duck-billed platypus, the ostrich, the lion and the house cat.
Anyone who enjoys classic Disney and Warner animation won't be able to stop watching these cartoons. The most fascinating thing about the cartoons is that they offer a glimpse into another cartoon world located somewhere between Disney's unrelenting cuteness and Warner Bros. madness. There's also a sense of sadness of what might have been, had David Hand been able to continue the series.
If you think this collection would make a great gift for your favorite vintage cartoon fan, think again. You'd better pick up 2 copies, for yourself and for the lucky recipient."
A must for animation buffs and film historians
Trevor Willsmer | London, England | 09/09/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"David Hand's Animaland cartoons are an interesting historical oddity with a lot going for them despite their problems. Part of the Rank Organisation's attempts to build a post-war British film empire when the UK briefly banned all American films in 1948 to boost the local industry (which explains the proud boast `Made in Cookham-on-Thames' on the end credits), they boast some fine animation but fall down on plot and characters. Somehow occasional stars red squirrel Ginger Nutt and his girlfriend seem such close relatives to Chip `n' Dale and Thumper that the very, very well spoken received English pronunciation just seems plain wrong. Ginger's also not a particularly memorable character, so the cartoons that rely more on spot gags than plots fare better. But the animation is certainly lavish, as you might expect from the director of Bambi and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
Before UPA introduced the minimalist/economy of line concept that would lead to TV's limited animation techniques, these boast detailed backgrounds and rich, warm colors (even though the DVD transfers are clearly - albeit understandably - a few generations away from the originals). Nearly all of them have something going for them: The Cuckoo boasts a wondrously vivid dream sequence in monochromatic color that's a close cousin to Dumbo's `Elephants on Parade', The Ostrich finds itself falling in love with and becoming a hieroglyphic, 'The Platypus' has some wonderful animation in and under a stream and in 'The House Cat' a kitten's imagination turns a curtain ring into a tiny man in a bath-towel to torment. Probably more for animation aficionados than general audiences, but certainly of interest.
Virtually unknown in the U.S., and it's a shame
Christine | Brooklyn, NY, USA | 10/08/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first saw some of Hand's "Animaland" cartoons on a classic cartoon program that airs on cable every Saturday morning, and was completely enchanted. Apparently, Hand had worked for Disney, and when he went out on his own, the wonderful feature cartoons he created were not shown in the U.S., although popular in his native England. (My assumption is that megalomaniac Disney had a hand -- no pun intended -- in that.) Some of these beautiful cartoons were lost for over 50 years. Now that they have been rediscovered, "Animaland" and its creator will receive, albeit very late, the veneration in the U.S. that they and he so richly deserve...at least that's my hope.
If you are a fan of "Bambi"-era Disney cartoons (Hand was supervising director on "Bambi"), pop in this DVD, sit back, and enjoy Ginger Nutt and his friends...and hearken back to a more innocent time.
There is a brief biography of Hand included on the DVD; I'll admit that, in my hurry to rave over "Animaland," I've not yet watched it. So if any of my information about Hand is incorrect, I apologize...and will correct it soon enough!"