“The Optimistic Futurist”
“Marty Sklar, Walt, and EPCOT”
Story and Background Art Gallery
Behind the Scenes Gallery
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Running Time: 4 Hours
This continues the outstanding “Walt Disney Treasures” series featuring classics raided from the Disney vaults. Leonard Maltin hosts these looks back in time.
This DVD features episodes from the Disneyland TV show that aired in the 1950′s. Each episode featured a show relevant to Adventureland, Fantasyland, Frontierland, or Tomorrowland. These episodes tied into Tomorrowland, of course. They were educational shows that discussed scientific topics relating to space, weather, or atomic energy. They took potentially confusing topics and presented them in a manner accessible to the general public. The following episodes are included on this DVD:
Man in Space This discusses the history of aviation and the rocket, then talks about how mankind will get into space and the challenges involved such as space sickness, weightlessness, etc. An animated space launch and mission is shown.
Man and the Moon This episode discusses man’s history with the moon and how they would possible get there one day. A live action fictional trip to the moon is shown in this episode.
Mars and Beyond This episode discusses the history of Mars and, like the other episodes, how man may one day go there. Life on other planets is discussed in both a scientific sense and a fantasy perspective.
Eyes in Outer Space This short episode discusses satellites and how they may be used to predict weather. An educational short on weather is also featured.
Our Friend the Atom This episode discusses the discovery of atoms, the history of atomic energy, and how it may be used as an energy source.
“EPCOT” TV Special Walt Disney discusses his vision for Disneyworld and an experimental community that would be a model for future cities. This film was also used to promote EPCOT to local Florida legislators.
This DVD is a limited edition that consists of 105,000 sets.
This DVD is unique to the Walt Disney Treasures series in that the episodes were educational and scientific in nature. They are additionally unique because they represent looks forward to a future that we have already lived through. They discuss space travel, trips to the moon, and missions to Mars back in the 50′s, well before they all actually occurred. But as Leonard Maltin says, though you might expect these scientific films to be obsolete or irrelevant, they’re still both interesting and applicable today.
First of all, they start out with brief histories of the subjects that they are covering. They include the history of rockets, the moon, Mars, and atomic energy. They are still relevant to research you might do today on those topics, and they also feature fantastic animation from Disney. Their cartoons are unique in look and they are also funny. Some of them are also very beautiful and artistic in ways rarely seen in Disney animation. They represent some of Disney’s first science fiction animation. They make otherwise potentially dull topics entertaining.
The movies then look towards the future of the subject matter. They show an early version of what seems like a space shuttle program. They show a three stage rocket lifting a shuttle into space which then glides back down to the surface of the earth. They also show how astronauts would do an expedition to the moon to map its dark side. (In a cool sci-fi moment, they illuminate what looks like alien ruins with flares. It is hauntingly cool.) These show how the seeds of future space travel were around even in the 50′s.
Despite these early looks at the U.S. space program, there is a fair amount that is really dated. “Mars And Beyond” speculates repeatedly about what weird plants and animals live on Mars. It also discusses the potentially alien canals on the planet. Then there are some rather optimistic looks at massive space stations orbiting earth, interplanetary vessels, weather control stations, and some sci-fi looking spaceships. There’s also the presentation of atomic energy as a perfect energy source with no downfalls like radiation. But while they are irrelevant to us today, they are still very interesting and a great snapshot of what people thought space travel would be like in their near future.
If you’re into science, aerospace, space travel, or science fiction, then this is a DVD well worth checking out for you.
There are a couple of extras included on this DVD:
“The Optimistic Futurist” In this featurette, Leonard Maltin interviews famous sci-fi author Ray Bradbury. Bradbury talks about his personal meetings with Walt Disney in the 50′s and how the two enjoyed discussing the future and technology so much. He talks about how the Tomorrowland features were visionary in nature and how Disney was an “optimistic futurist”.
“Marty Sklar, Walt, and EPCOT” Leonard Maltin interviews Marty Sklar, one of the main planners for the EPCOT project at Disneyworld in Florida. He talks about how he got the job as an Imagineer, what they wanted this futuristic community to be like, and how they made prototypes for the community at Disneyland. It’s a shame that the EPCOT community was never built, but this video makes you appreciate what Disney was trying to accomplish.
The Bottom Line:
While this DVD isn’t as interesting for children as some of the other Disney Treasures, it still is a notable piece of Disney history and something that scientists and science fiction fans will be interested in.