Walt Disney Pictures proudly stamps its name on Pixar products as often as possible, and for justifiable reasons. If it weren’t for the creative computer animation team in
Northern California, Disney would certainly have lost the title it has held in the animation world for so very long. Pixar seemed from the beginning to understand what everyone had forgotten in animation.
Perhaps it was the forced restrictions of three-dimensional computer animation that really did it, but Pixar learned to simplify. The short films begin with very simple ideas, and even as the animation had progressed to allow far more freedom, they stuck with the same theme for each of the shorts. They each oozing with human life and expression, regardless of whether the film is focuses on a lamp, bird, or a human. That being said, I found Brave to be rather unfulfilling. The best work I have seem from Pixar in the past few years has been in the short films which are included in this set.
Watching these films together is fascinating, both in the way that the animation progresses over time and with experience, but also because of the amazing versatility and creativity in the chosen subjects. Some of the films in this collection are just piggybacking on the success of previously established characters. There are several Toy Story cartoons, a couple Cars shorts, a few more for Up and other feature films also have extra short films as well. These are fine, and probably more what the children are likely to enjoy. What made the set for me, however, are the original shorts which try something new. There seems to a theme in these newer shorts, many of which show nature in a mystical or fantastical way. A moon’s shifting light is a family business, a cloud can have an attitude and in my favorite cartoon Day meets Night.
Though there are more shorts in the first volume that I am likely to watch again, the second volume does far better with the special features. Along with commentary tracks from the filmmakers, there are also seven additional short films from three Pixar filmmakers which were made while they were still students.