SUMMARY: In this educational film, Donald Duck visits the fantasy world of Mathmagic Land where he learns much about mathematics.
WHY IT’S HERE: Disney’s ‘Donald in Mathmagic Land’ is one of the studios most popular of its many educational films and it’s not hard to see why. This half-hour featurette sees Donald Duck wandering into Mathmagic Land where he encounters the Spirit of Adventure (voiced by Paul Frees). Donald is dismissive of mathematics at first but the Spirit takes him through a series of lessons which shows how all-encompassing its influence is. A Donald Duck cartoon attempting to make learning fun may sound patronising and dull but Disney were always great at sneaking learning into broadly entertaining material and ‘Donald in Mathmagic Land’ does that brilliantly. Although it uses maths as its subject, the cartoon touches on all sorts of related areas such as history, literature, sport, architecture, art and the human body. It crams an unbelievable amount into its relatively short timeframe. ‘Donald in Mathmagic Land’ also combines live action and animation beautifully, particularly in a great sequence in which Donald plays billiards, using maths to improve his game. A consistently popular short that has transcended its educational intentions by virtue of its high entertainment factor, ‘Donald in Mathmagic Land’ is a superb short which was nominated for a Best Documentary Short Oscar but lost to ‘Glass’, Dutch director Bert Haanstra’s film about the glass industry in the Netherlands.