Donald In Mathmagic Land (1959)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 6/7/05
Cast: Paul Frees

It was always a treat to see films during class in elementary school, and none were more entertaining than Frank Capra's Bell Science series and Walt Disney's "Donald In Mathmagic Land." This thirty minute long animated adventure follows Donald Duck as he stumbles into Mathmagic Land, and learns all sorts of things about mathematics from a fun and non-arithmetic viewpoint. The superb Paul Frees narrates as the Spirit Of Adventure, and shows Donald that math is the basis of music, art, and sports. We also see math at work in nature, with magic pentagons, golden rectangles, and infinite spirals. But what made the biggest impression on me as a kid, and even today, is the segment on playing billiards. The mathematical breakdown of strategy and technique is spellbinding and fascinating to watch. The only place where the show falters is in some lackluster animation and the sometimes sluggish pacing. If you can find it, it's definitely worth a second or third look.