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Dumbo: 70th Anniversary (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 20, 2011 by  



Make no doubt about it, “Dumbo: 70th Anniversary” is the definitive release of this Disney animated classic.  The restoration is absolutely beautiful, vibrant  and spectacular.  The 7.1 lossless soundtrack sounds fantastic and with the new special features along with the old, makes this Blu-ray release a must buy!  Highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © Disney. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Dumbo: 70th Anniversary

FILM YEAR OF RELEASE: 1941

DURATION: 64 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:33:1), English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, 2.0 English Restored Featured Audio, French and Spanish 5.1 Disney Enhanced Home theater Mix (DEHT), Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish Subtitles

COMPANY: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

RATED: G (for General Audiences)

Release Date: September 20, 2011

Directed by Samuel Armstrong, Norman Ferguson, Wilfred Jackson, Jack Kinney, Bill Roberts, Ben Sharpsteen

Screen Story by Joe Grant, Dick Huerner

Story Direction: Otto Englander

Story Develoment: Bill Peet, Aurelius Battaglia, Joe Rinaldi, Vernon Stallings, Webb Smith

Music by Frank Churchill, Oliver Wallace

Featuring the following voice talent:

James Baskett as Crow

Herman Bing as The Ringmaster

Cliff Edwards as Jim Crow

Edward Brophy as Timothy Q. Mouse

Sterling Holloway as Mr. Stork

In celebration of this landmark film‘s 70th anniversary, experience the daring adventures of the world‘s only flying elephant with a dazzling all-new digital restoration and brilliant Disney Enhanced High Definition Theatre Mix Sound. The inspirational tale of Dumbo, the courageous baby elephant who uses his sensational ears to soar to fame with the help of his clever best friend Timothy Q. Mouse, will thrill and delight audiences of all ages. And now, the award-winning music and empowering messages about friendship and belief In yourself reach new heights in this must-have Blu-ray high-definition presentation of Walt Disney‘s classic Dumbo!

It was 1941 and with Disney having its first successful animated film with “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” back in 1938, unfortunately its next two films “Pinocchio” and “Fantasia” would not be the big box office hits that Disney had wanted.  And partly that was because of World War II, as Disney would not be able to recoup through international screenings.

In fact, the two films hurt Disney financially and now with the studio hurting, their fourth feature “Dumbo” was created with the idea of keep things economical with a tight budget and because of that, they had to focus on simplicity.  And that meant creating an animated film that is just a little over one-hour long.

The animated film is based on a children’s story by Helen Aberson and was illustrated by Harold Pearl and was featured as a “Roll-A-Book”.  In 1939, Disney’s head of merchandise licensing brought the Roll-A-Book to Walt Disney’s attention and sure enough, Disney gave the greenlight for an animated short.  But because they were hurting financially, “Dumbo” was selected to help generate income and Disney relied on his storytellers, Dick Huemer and Joe Grant to being working on the plot of the film.

So, following the rules of a strict budget and simplistic features, “Dumbo” was not a film that would feature the same production level as the first three films. No emphasis on character design, backgrounds were not as detailed  and utilized water colors and the film would feature less cells.  It’s also one of the first Disney animated films where there is no cast list for its voice talent.

“Dumbo” was released by distributor RKO Radio Pictures in 1941 and at first because of its short length, it did cause a brief riff between both Disney and RKO Productions but in the end, Disney won and the film was released during World War II and it was a financial success.  The film which cost around $813,000 to make (much cheaper than the previous three films) grossed $1.6 million in the box office and  would win an Academy Award for Original Musical Score and would receive re-releases in 1949, 1959, 1972 and 1976.  “Dumbo” was also well-received by film critics.

Since its release, “Dumbo” has been considered a timeless Disney classic and will now be released in a 70th Anniversary Edition via Blu-ray and DVD release on Sept. 20th and will feature more special features compared to its 50th Anniversary and 60th Anniversary counterparts and also will feature restoration to bring the film to an audience wanting to watch this film in HD.

“Dumbo” begins with the circus transporting Mrs. Jumbo and a few elephants.  A stork comes down to deliver her a baby but immediately, the elephants begin to look at the baby with disdain due to it having large ears and immediately, they give the baby the nickname “Dumbo”.

When the circus begins, the human boys tend to make fun of Dumbo because of his ears but Mrs. Jumbo is protective towards her son.  Because of that, she is locked up and separated from Dumbo.

With no friends, Dumbo meets a mouse named Timothy Q. Mouse who becomes his mentor and new protector.  And for Timothy, he just wants to make Dumbo happy.

Meanwhile, the circus director tries to find out how to utilize Dumbo in the circus and has him in an elephant pyramid stunt but because of his ears, he has an accident and all the elephants fall.  So, then the director tries to have Dumbo become a clown who falls in a vat of pie filling and sure enough, he becomes famous for his clown act but for Dumbo, he dislikes his new job.

Timothy manages to take Dumbo to see his mother and he cries afterward.  Will Dumbo and his mother ever reunite?  Can Timothy Q. Mouse help Dumbo reunited with his mother?  And what new skill will Dumbo develop?

 

VIDEO:

With the success of “Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs”, “Pinocchio” and “Fantasia” on Blu-ray and seeing how Disney went all out in the restoration and look of the film, needless to say, I had the highest expectations for “Dumbo”.

Presented in 1080p High Definition (1:33:1), let’s just say that Disney once again, has done fans a great service by giving us one awesome restoration.

And I know… many of us own multiple copies of “Dumbo” on DVD but this is Blu-ray, it’s intro. to Blu-ray and as a 70th Anniversary release, it blows away any of the previous “Dumbo” releases on video.

OK, sure…”Dumbo” was created simplistic and with a lower budget than the previous three films but the overall character designs are crisp and the background still look beautiful and well-balanced.  Colors are vibrant and there are no signs of artifacts, banding, edge enhancement or DNR.  This was a straight-up restoration in which Disney restored each cel and are giving us the best presentation of the film yet!

“Dumbo” looks absolutely fantastic on Blu-ray and yes, even the drunken Dumbo scene looks vibrant than ever before.  I don’t want to use the word “pristine” but for Disney fans, “Dumbo: 70th Anniversary” looks fantastic!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

When I saw that Disney gave fans an all new English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio lossless soundtrack, I couldn’t help but be happy about it!  The Blu-ray release also features the 2.0 English restored featured audio, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Enhanced Home Theater Mix (DEHT).

But the 7.1 lossless soundtrack is fantastic.  From the opening scene with the thunder cracking, the rain and wind…you hear the sounds all around you. Dialogue for the film is crystal clear, as with the original musical soundtrack, it sounds awesome via lossless.  Granted, the film as I mentioned in the picture quality, this was a film created on a budget, kept simplistic on purpose but still, it was great to see how the music utilized the surround channels and for the most part, this is the best soundtrack for “Dumbo” yet!

As for subtitles, “Dumbo: 70th Anniversary” is presented in English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dumbo: 70th Anniversary” comes with the following special features presented in HD (note: original DVD features that are on the Blu-ray are presented in standard definition):

  • Cine-Explore – Featuring a picture-in-picture section hosted by Pixard director Pete Docter, Disney hitorian Paul Sigman and Disney animator Andreas Deja.  Learn about the history of the film and how “Dumbo” saved Disney from financial ruin and more.
  • DisneyView –  While watching the film, you can fill the black bars on the side by selecting the optional DisneyView which features paintings by Disney background artist James Coleman.  Also, features a brief interview with Coleman.
  • “Celebrating Dumbo” – (14:53) Featuring a featurette with Deja, Roy E. Disney, Don Hahn, Rudy Behlmer and film critic Leonard Maltin talking about “Dumbo”.
  • Deleted Scenes: Featuring two deleted scenes “The Mouse’s Tale” and “Are You a Man or a Mouse?” presented via storyboards.
  • Taking Flight: The Making of Dumbo – (28:18) A journey back to the origins of the film as everybody‘s favorite baby elephant takes wing.
  • The Magic Of Dumbo: A Ride of Passage – (3:08)  Witness the excitement and magic of Disneyland‘s most popular ride through the eyes of a child.
  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with Pete Docter, Paula Sigman and Andreas Deja
  • Sound Design Excerpt from The Reluctant Dragon – (5:56) A classic featurette on the sound design for “The Reluctant Dragon”.
  • Original Walt Disney Television Introduction – (1:04) Featuring the classic TV introduction by Walt Disney.
  • Animated Short: “Elmer Elephant” – (8:31) A 1936 Silly Symphony Short about Elmer and friends attending Tillie Tiger’s sixth birthday party.  But what happens when Tillie’s treehouse catches fire.
  • Animated Short: “The Flying Mouse”  – (9:21) A 1934 Silly Symphony Short about a young mouse who tries to swing from leaves and fails.  He is is saved by a butterfly and now wants wings.
  • “What Do You See?” Game – Featuring a image-scramble game which you can play via using your remote control.
  • “What Do You Know?” Game – Featuring a trivia challenge which you can play via using your remote.
  • Art Galleries – Featuring images in the following categories: Visual Development, Character Design, Layouts & Backgrounds, Storyboard Art, Production Pictures, Research Pictures, Publicity and from the Original Dumbo Storybook from 1941.
  • Trailers – Featuring the original 1941 theatrical trailer and 1949 re-release trailer.

EXTRAS:

“Dumbo: 70th Anniversary” comes with a slipcover case and a DVD version of the feature film.  The DVD is presented in 1:33:1 aspect ratio, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Enhanced Home Theater Mix (DEHT), 2.0 English restored featured audio, subtitles in English, English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.

“Dumbo” is a Disney animated classic which my wife and I have purchased countless versions on VHS and DVD and it has been a favorite of ours.  Especially now that we have a son, it’s a film that we can share with our child and now enjoy especially with this beautiful restoration that Disney had given to this film.

Beautiful and vibrant, when I first watched this film on Blu-ray, I couldn’t help but see how clear everything looked.  But so far, Disney has not disappointed me because with the release of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, “Pinocchio”, “Fantasia”, “Bambi” and several other films, Disney has really gone all out with these Blu-ray releases and also giving fans the best looking and sounding versions of these Disney animated classics yet.

“Dumbo” is a touching story and I can remember as a child wondering if the fate of Dumbo’s mother would be similar to Bambi’s situation.  And then watching it again as a college student and wondering what was the motivation towards the drunken dream sequence.  But having watched this film for countless times during my near 30+ years, this animated film is timeless.  I never get bored of it and as mentioned, I have purchased nearly every video release of this film since it’s 50th Anniversary and I can only wonder how Disney will outdo themselves when this film reaches its 100th Anniversary.

But still, this is the definitive version of “Dumbo” to own at this time.  And if I was asked if there was any faults of this release, it’s not more of faults but for one, “Dumbo” is not as detailed as the previous three films because Disney was hurting financially at the time and the film was made on a budget and was made to be simplistic.  Not that it’s a bad thing but for those who admire the first three films for its beautiful artwork, one has to understand that Disney had to make cost-cutting decisions for “Dumbo”.

The other thing is that with the other three releases, Disney really went all out in special features.  Not to say that there aren’t many in the 70th Anniversary release for “Dumbo” because there are a good number of special features including the really cool “Cine-Explore Experience” but in terms of what is featured in the first three releases on Blu-ray compared to what is included in “Dumbo”, the other three definitely offered much more bonus content.

But of course, that is me being spoiled by the first three releases on Blu-ray and if I haven’t watched those Blu-ray’s, I would still feel the sheer number of new and older special features included in this release would be nothing short of  magnificent.

With that being said, “Dumbo: 70th Anniversary” is a fantastic, timeless Disney animated classic and because Disney really went all out in terms of look and sound, this Blu-ray release deserves to be watched and owned by fans of the film!

Highly recommended!

 






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