Tuesday, 25 November 2008

DVD Review: "Pixar Short Films Collection Volume 1"

I picked up the Pixar Short Films Collection Volume 1 DVD through a mixture of mild curiosity and having fairly recently enjoyed both Wall-E and the short film which preceded it, Presto. I bought it with the intention of dipping into the collection every so often watching a short film here and there, this being much easier to fit in than watching a full feature film of around two hours in length, seeing as the total running time of all thirteen short films in the collection comes in just short of an hour. What actually happened was that I ended up watching all of the short films, plus the DVD extras, in two sittings, and this was only because I didn't start the first session early enough in the evening to complete the DVD in a single viewing.

The short films presented here aren't just very entertaining; they demonstrate just how vast the technological leaps in computer animation have been since the first short on this DVD, The Adventures Of Andre & Wally B, was made in 1984. The early shorts come across as primitive and possibly underwhelming compared to today's standards of computer wizardry. But considering the earliest shorts were made over twenty years ago, with the earliest in the year of my birth, the achievements represented through these short pieces of film are almost incomprehensible. The advances are huge between one film and the next, showing Pixar's continual lust for bigger and better things.

But the technological side of things isn't all that is demonstrated through this collection. Through each of these short films, it's clear to see that the people behind Pixar and its animations have always had a superb ability to not just make pictures and characters move, but to bring them to life. Through 1986's Luxo Jr. - a short about two desk lamps - it's not difficult to see that the people who made it also had a hand in making millions of people care about a tiny non-speaking cockroach in Wall-E twenty-two years later. From the moment the first lamp begins to bend, you forget that it's a piece of desk furniture and immediately buy into it as a character with a personality. And this is before the second, smaller, "cute" lamp has even appeared.

There were only a couple of shorts that I only liked quite a lot, rather than loved, and that was largely because they were tied into Pixar films that I either didn't particularly care for (The Incredibles) or haven't yet seen (Cars). The special features aren't particularly expansive, but are definitely worthwhile. There are four Luxo Jr. spin-offs that were used in episodes of Sesame Street, and a short documentary on Pixar's history of creating short films, all of which are both entertaining and interesting. They help to round off what is a neat one-disc DVD set, a fascinating and heartwarming collection that I'm sure I will revisit many, many times.

1 comment:

TheTelf said...

You didn't particularly care for The Incredibles? Oh, this will be discussed at length when I see you next... :P