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Author Topic: The Small One (Disney/Derann) 600ft.
Osi Osgood
Film God

Posts: 10001
From: #399R K.O.A. Mountian Home, ID. 83647
Registered: Jul 2005

 - posted December 11, 2007 02:21 PM      Profile for Osi Osgood   Author's Homepage   Email Osi Osgood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Being that it is the holidays, i thought that this would be a good one to review.

This was Don Bluth's swan song at Disney, before he started his own film company, first releasing "Banjo The Woodpile Cat", a segment for the movie "XANADU", and then thier first feature, "The Secret of Nimh", (also available from Derann). he directed this and did a fine job.

The small one refers to the littlest donkey on a farm somewhere in Israel, (not sure of the location). The poor donkey is getting old and cannot do his fair share anymore, so the boy's father commands that the boys beloved donkey must be sold, (for one piece of silver).

The boy asks if he can do the selling, which the father agrees to. The boy goes to town. A roman solder wrongly sends the boy to a mule skinner! This is by far the scariest scene, as the boy finds various skins in various states of work, and chained animals pitifully awaiting skinning. The boy quickly gets the donkey out of there.

The spirit of the film is brought up a little by the insertion of three dis-honest business men who sing a funny song about getting everything "by hook or crook" and after trying to sell the donkey by various other ways, they suggest that the boy take it to an auctioneer.

The auctioneer laughs the boy and the poor donkey to scorn, even going so far as to abuse the poor donkey. After the auctioneer harshly tosses the boy from the stand the donkey bucks him off in revenge.

Now it is getting dark and the boy is unsucessful in selling the donkey. he holds the donkey close and cries. It's then that Joeseph approaches the boy about selling the donkey to him because he has to take his pregnant wife to Bethlehem. The boy does so, happy that the small one will have a good home.

The camera pulls back on a long shot of the manger with the star above. THE END

Though this film has been critisized and largely ignored for it's "religious theme" it only comes into it at the very end when Joseph appears on the scene to buy the donkey. in fact, no ones name is given and unless you know the Bible story, you'd never guess until, perhaps, the very end shot, of the stable and the star in the heavens.

I personally feel that the only low points of the film are the silly insipid songs, except for the thieves little song. In some ways, this is (up to that point in time) the darkest film Disney ever put out in animation, with the scene in the mule skinners room. It has just the right level of malice as mood music to put it over and I felt that this as the best scenes of the film. Sure Disney had mothers and such killed in the past (Bambi's mother, for instance), but this has a reality that makes it really work and it was a brave scene for Disney to do.

This was close to the last "religious theme" animated film Disney did, (remember Jhonny Appleseed ... Night on Blad Mountain/Ave Maria?), and in some ways, I feel it was the last shred of what was yet another part of Walt Disney's "Disney studio".


This is an excellent print in every regard! The master print used was immaculate. My particular print is on AGFA stock. The color is perfect with full saturation. The contrast to the print is outstanding as well, with every detail in dark scenes coming out brilliantly, and bright scenes never being over-exposed.


This print is like so many other DIsney/Derann releases, with a focus that really defies 16MM expectations. It still amazes me as to how they can get SUCH good quality. There is not a single shot out of focus in the whole production.


This was released in mono, and it is an exceptional soundtrack. I don't know if this film was ever released in stereo, but I'd love to re-record mine in stereo someday.

This is released on one 600ft super 8mm reel and runs approximately 24 or 25 minutes.

This is an excellent super 8 release for Christmas. Though there is the religious ending to it, I really don't see anything to literally offend almost anybody. Perhaps the religious aspect is why this film rarely sees the light of day from Disney ...

... but we can be proud to say that we can screen it for all it's wonderful color and story on Super 8mm


[ October 27, 2013, 08:11 PM: Message edited by: Osi Osgood ]

"All these moments will be lost in time, just like ... tears, in the rain. "

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Lee Mannering
Film God

Posts: 3183
From: The Projection Box
Registered: Nov 2006

 - posted December 11, 2007 03:10 PM      Profile for Lee Mannering     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
That was so nice to read, particularly as we had only a short time ago been sorting through the Disney’s. We only have the short early Disney cut down, but it is still a nicely made movie and ideal for Christmas with an easy to understand story for Children. These lovingly hand crafted animation films remind us that not all films on 8mm have to be crash bang action blockbusters and The Small One is a beautiful example of what’s good on 8mm we feel here.
A lovely review and movie, so thank you for sharing it with us especially at Christmas.

A first class job my friend.

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Osi Osgood
Film God

Posts: 10001
From: #399R K.O.A. Mountian Home, ID. 83647
Registered: Jul 2005

 - posted December 12, 2007 04:08 PM      Profile for Osi Osgood   Author's Homepage   Email Osi Osgood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks Lee.

By the way, I REALLY need to edit my reviews before I post. I changed the over 11 mistakes!

I will always love hand drawn animation more than CGI. CGI does have it's place and if used properly is a wonderful addition to any film and great if the story itself demands that (Toy Story 1 and 2, for instance, also available from Derann, in the case of Toy Story 1).

My main problem with CGI is, while there are computer animators who do the preliminary drawings, there is an intimacy to real hand drawn and inked/painted animated films. You see a persons actual blood sweat and tears on that screen, which can be missing from CGI.

The Small One is an example of the "old School" Disney style, and one of the last examples of such. That is, the story takes it's time to slowly present itself, (notice how nice and slow "Bambi" relates it's story, for instance.) I like seeing a story that doesn't have to have some trial and tribulation happening every 30 seconds to keep our attention deficit modern children's attention.

"All these moments will be lost in time, just like ... tears, in the rain. "

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James N. Savage 3
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1374
From: Washington, DC
Registered: Jul 2003

 - posted December 13, 2007 06:54 AM      Profile for James N. Savage 3   Email James N. Savage 3   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 

Thanks for the review!

I am also a proud owner of this great little film. I first had the 200 footer, which only wet my appitite for the full length (600 foot) version.

Running close to 30 minutes, it really is quite an emotional film. The first few moments of the movie show the strong bond between the boy and the donkey (like a family pet). Then, he is faced with the harsh reality of having to part with it.

Once in the town (probably Nazarith), he is surrounded by un-caring adults, who are mostly unfriendly to the pair. The on-going gag of the three theives, singing "clink-clink, clank-clank, get-the-money-to-the-bank", does lighten the mood a bit, but are my least favorite scenes. Knowing what that kid is going through makes is kind of hard to get all chuckled-up during these scenes.

When the boy finally runs into Joseph, its like a breath of fresh air. He is a friendly, gentle person, and offers the boy just what his father asked him to get for the donkey, one piece of silver.

As we see the boy climb high on a hill to see his beloved pet off, and the title song keys in, we finally realize that the sickly old donkey really did have an important purpose in life! I always get all choked up on that last scene- every time- it never fails! [Smile]

As Osi stated, the film quality is absolutely FLAWLESS, in every aspect. I have run this for kids of all ages, and, though it does have a somewhat down-beat theme (boy having to give his pet away), the producers were able to keep it entertaining and fun enough that it never becomes depressing. And the last couple of minutes of the movie "brings it all home", and gives the viewer a happy ending [Wink] .

Well recommended.


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Osi Osgood
Film God

Posts: 10001
From: #399R K.O.A. Mountian Home, ID. 83647
Registered: Jul 2005

 - posted December 14, 2007 10:56 PM      Profile for Osi Osgood   Author's Homepage   Email Osi Osgood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 

Just thought I'd mention that I had the 200ft version as well. I recently sold it when I bought the full length version. The 200ft version was well paced, (didn't have any of the songs, except the end song with the end titles.

I was struck by how good of color this had. My particular title was printed in England at the Buck labs on L.P.P. (must have been early L.P.P., as this was one of Disney's last titles before they closed up thier own Super 8mm shop.), and the color was just as good.

However, the full length Derann version has a far sharper picture. The 200ft version had OK sharpness for it's day, but the Derann 600ft is truly stunning!

We truly are indebted to Derann for releasing this on Super 8mm. This, to my knowledge, has rarely seen the light of day, and most people really don't know of it's existence, but thatnks to Derann, we can enjoy it anytime we want it.

"All these moments will be lost in time, just like ... tears, in the rain. "

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Douglas Meltzer

Posts: 4453
From: New York, NY, USA
Registered: Jun 2003

 - posted September 09, 2014 11:36 AM      Profile for Douglas Meltzer   Email Douglas Meltzer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Some additional comments about The Small One can be found here.


I think there's room for just one more film.....

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Andrew Woodcock
Film God

Posts: 7477
From: Manchester Uk
Registered: Aug 2012

 - posted September 09, 2014 03:34 PM      Profile for Andrew Woodcock         Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks for that Doug, hadn't realized a write up already existed.

"C'mon Baggy..Get with the beat"

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Kevin Hassall
Master Film Handler

Posts: 438
From: Walsall, England
Registered: Dec 2010

 - posted September 13, 2014 03:38 AM      Profile for Kevin Hassall   Author's Homepage   Email Kevin Hassall   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
i have this a superb film the grandchildren never tire of it (neither do i ha ha) had if derann of the list gary said it hadnt been used i love it we dont just have it for christmas viewing we play it all the while [Razz]

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Bill Phelps
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1466
From: USA
Registered: Jan 2009

 - posted December 02, 2018 07:09 PM      Profile for Bill Phelps     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I just saw the 200' version last night at Steve O's Christmas show...had never seen it before....it was great, just like everyone has described. Had me choked up at the end for sure. The color on the 200' was excellent. I'm gonna have to keep my eyes open for this one. [Smile]

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Osi Osgood
Film God

Posts: 10001
From: #399R K.O.A. Mountian Home, ID. 83647
Registered: Jul 2005

 - posted December 03, 2018 11:09 AM      Profile for Osi Osgood   Author's Homepage   Email Osi Osgood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I always like looking at this "featurette" as the first Don Bluth film on super 8, (though we are happy to own his first feature "The Secret of Nimh", thanks to Derann films!) ...

As, though it was officially a Disney production, Don Bluth's visual style is all over this short.

"All these moments will be lost in time, just like ... tears, in the rain. "

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