Max Fleischer's Superman: 1941-1942
by Various Directors
Review by Charles Mohapel
Warner Brothers Home Video DVD ISBN/ITEM#: B001OD8E4G
Date: 29 April 2009 List Price $26.98 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Wikipedia Entry / Show Official Info /
The first nine cartoons were produced by Fleischer Studios (the name by which the cartoons are commonly known). In 1942, Fleischer Studios was dissolved and reorganized as Famous Studios, which produced the final eight shorts. These cartoons are seen as some of the finest, and certainly the most lavishly budgeted, animated cartoons produced during The Golden Age of American animation. In 1994, the series was voted #33 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field. (Source: Wikipedia)
My excitement was almost palpable when the DVD arrived the day before I had to attend the Convention Committee meetings for Anticipation, the 2009 World Science Fiction Convention to be held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada from August 6th to 10th. During breaks in the meetings, I began watching it on my laptop and even on a 15.4 inch (39.1 cm.) widescreen the grain of the film and numerous scratches were patently obvious to even the most casual observer.
As enjoyable as it was watching these classic animated short features of the Golden Age of Comics (and cartoons) in their original 4:3 aspect ratio, it was really disheartening to see how badly these 66 to 68 year old movies had degraded. It was a disappointment seeing that while the images had been somewhat restored, there was so much more that could have been done, things like carefully scanning each frame of the film digitally, then using powerful computers running cutting edge software to clean up the digital images in much the same manner as people use Photoshop for photos.
Frankly, my favorite parts were all the bonus features, particularly The Man, The Myth, Superman and First Flight: The Fleischer Superman Series featurettes.
I certainly hope that these classic animated short features get another trip back to the lab for an extreme makeover - Superman and his legion of loyal fans all deserve that.