Pixar Short Films Collection Vol. 1
© Disney/Pixar. All rights reserved.
Noell Wolfgram Evans · November 19, 2007 | "A thing of beauty is a joy forever."—John Keats

The recent release of The Pixar Short Film Collection Vol. 1 shows the studio's utter mastery of the animated form. Watching these pieces must be what it would have been like to watch Babe Ruth in his prime—you understood what he was doing but it was difficult to comprehend how he was doing it so well. All that you could do was sit back and enjoy. And that's really all that you can, and should, do with this short film set.

Pixar Short Films Collection Vol. 1
Animation production by Pixar Animation Studios
Buena Vista Home Entertainment, 2007
54 minutes

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The animation industry was built off of the short film. It started as an exploration of the medium and became its bread and butter. Today, though, to most mainstream film-going audiences it's a lost art, a relic of a bygone time. Thankfully the minds at Pixar see it differently. For them, the short film is, above other things, a training ground. Not, to return to baseball, the minor leagues, but an exploratory area where technical tricks and story arcs can be utilized, hashed out and refined. The pieces in this set are the results of this work, and they show that the time spent in thinking and trial can be time well spent. These films are technically astute, emotionally grabbing, coherent, funny and timeless.

Over the nearly one-hour running time, viewers are treated to thirteen instantly classic shorts from the earliest, 1986's Luxo, Jr., to the latest, Lifted (which premiered this summer before Ratatouille) and many others in between. (You might argue that The Adventures of André & Wally B. predates Luxo, Jr. but that was done when the production unit was still under the direction of Lucasfilm and not yet truly "Pixar.") The other shorts in this set are Red's Dream, Tin Toy, Knick Knack, Geri's Game, For the Birds, Mike's New Car, Boundin', Jack-Jack Attack, Mater and the Ghost Light and One Man Band. Some of these feature familiar characters, some fill in plot points of Pixar's features and some have completely independent characters and stories. In all, these shorts have been nominated for seven Academy Awards and won three.

Like the great shorts of years gone by, the films here are "fat free"—there's nothing superfluous, not a wasted moment or overdone beat. It's as if each director offered the same marching orders for each scene: "Get in, get it done, move on."

The DVD has a few bonus features that are pretty much the standard fare, and for once that's okay, because really, you don't want any distraction from the main course.

Doubtlessly, these shorts will be studied, dissected, reimagined, talked about and taught for years to come. And granted they should be, so long as we don't do that so much that we remove the pleasure that comes with each viewing; for in the end that's the common thread that binds these disparate shorts together.

DVD and Blu-ray Disc Features: English, French, Spanish and Japanese audio tracks and subtitles; Region 1 (DVD only).

DVD and Blu-ray Disc Extras: Audio commentaries; Pixar Shorts: A Short History featurette.
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