The Aristocats (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
August 17, 2012 by Dennis Amith
“The Aristocats” is an easily accessible film for children and it’s not too long (at 78-minutes). Safe, fun and a family film that will entertain generation after generation, “The Aristocats” is a classic Disney animated film that looks and sounds great in HD via Blu-ray. For Disney collectors or parents wanting a fun family film, “The Aristocats” is recommended!
BLU-RAY TITLE: The Aristocats
MOVIE RELEASE DATE: 1970
DURATION: 78 Minutes
BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:66:1 Aspect Ratio, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish
COMPANY: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
DVD RELEASE DATE: August 21, 2012
Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman
Story by Larry Clemons, Vance Gerry, Ken Anderson, Frank Thomas, Eric Cleworth, Julius Svendsen, Ralph Wright
Based on the Story by Tom Mcgowan and Tom Rowe
Produced by Winston Hibler, Wolfgang Reitherman
Music by George Bruns
Edited by Tom Acosta
Production Design by Ken Anderson
Featuring the Voices of:
Phil Harris as O’Malley
Eva Gabor as Duchess
Sterling Holloway as Roquefort
Scatman Crothers as Scat Cat
Paul Winchell as Chinese Cat
Lord Tim Hudson as English Cat
Vito Scotti as Italian Cat
Thurl Ravenscroft as Russian Cat
Dean Clark as Berlioz
Liz English as Marie
Gary Dubin as Toulouse
Nancy Kulp as Frou-Frou
Pat Buttram as Napoleon
George Lindsey as Lafayette
Monica Evans as Abigail
Carole Shelley as Amelia
The exciting tale takes place in the heart of Paris where a kind and eccentric millionairess, wills her entire estate to ‘Duchess,’ a high society cat, and her three kittens. When the bumbling butler Edgar tries to pull off the ultimate catnap caper in order to secure the fortune for himself, it’s up to alley cat Thomas O’Malley and his band of swingin’ jazz cats to save the day. “The Aristocats” features the voice talents of Eva Gabor, Phil Harris, Sterling Halloway and legendary French singer Maurice Chevalier, who performs the film’s titular opening song. The legendary Disney songwriting team of brothers, Richard and Robert Sherman, get the joint jumping with the jazz-inspired musical numbers “Ev’rybody Wants To Be A Cat,” “Scales and Arpeggios,” and “Thomas O’Malley Cat.”
“The Aristocats”, one of Disney’s cute, fun, classic animated films that will no doubt entertaining generation after generation.
In 1970, the 20th Walt Disney Animated Classic was released in theaters. The film, “The Aristocats”, would be known as the last film project that Walt Disney approved before his death in 1966 and a film that would feature Disney’s longtime legendary talent known as the “Nine Old Men”.
Featuring talents such as Eva Gabor, singer Phil Harris and English actor Roddy Maude-Roxby, the film would be an enormous success that year. Budgeted at $4 million, “The Aristocats” would earn over $55 million in the box office.
And now, the classic Disney animated film will be released in HD for the first time on Blu-ray in August 2012.
“The Aristocats” is a film that is set in Paris 1910 and revolves around a mother cat named Duchess and her three kitten, Marie, Berlioz and Toulouse who live in the mansion of a retired opera singer named Madame Adelaide Bonfamille.
One day, she is expecting her lawyer Georges Hautecort to discuss her will. Her plan is to leave her fortune to her cats until their deaths, and then her fortune will go to her English butler Edgar.
Edgar hears the conversation between Adelaide and Georges and immediately is disappointed that because cats live long lives, it will be too late for him to inherit Madame Bonfamille’s fortune.
So, he decides to take action by plotting to kill the cats, so he can get the full inheritance.
Edgar sedates the cats by putting sleeping pills in their food and then drives them off to the countryside where he plans to drown them in the water. But while en route to the location where he will be killing the cats, he is greeted by two hound dogs named Napoleon and Lafayette and the dogs go after him.
This leads the basket of cats falling off the car into the countryside. And now Duchess and her kittens are stranded in the countryside, knowing that they must get back to Paris.
And fortunately for the cats, they have an alley cat named Thomas O’Malley who knows the roads and agrees to guide her and the kittens to Paris.
And while the cats are returning back to Paris, the adventure leads them to many troubles. But have no fear, O’Malley is there to watch over them and it leads to Duchess and O’Malley to getting close with one another. For O’Malley, he would love for Duchess to marry him, but for Duchess, she feels that she and her children must return to Madame Bonfamille.
But as the Duchess and the kittens have taken a liking towards Thomas O’Malley and some of the kittens can see Thomas being a good father, will the Duchess stay with him or will she and the kittens return back to Madame Bonfamille?
“The Aristocats” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:66:1 aspect ratio). This is one of the classic Disney films to feature Disney’s legendary “Nine Old Men” and has a unique style as the characters look as they are hand drawn, as the outlines of the pencil strokes can be seen on the cats.
The detailed and beautiful backgrounds also reflect a sketch style mostly evident indoors, but outdoors, it’s Disney magic as the backgrounds look fantastic! These outdoor animated scenes are where you can see most of the detail and the vibrancy of the film. While the film does seem like an older animated film in presentation with its hint of softness, this is the best version of “The Aristocats” that I have seen so far.
The picture quality is quite clean, there are no blemishes, artifacts or dust that I saw when I was watching the film. Overall, I was impressed by how great this film looks on Blu-ray!
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“The Aristocats” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (48 kHz/24-bit) and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. The film is primarily dialogue and music-driven and thus more center/front channel. Dialogue and lossless audio is crystal clear with a little use of the surround channels but there is use of LFE (as it can be heard a bit clearly during the train sequence). But overall, the lossless soundtrack is good and I hear no pops or any audio problems during my viewing of the film.
Subtitles are in English, English SDH, French and Spanish.
“The Aristocats” comes with the following special features:
- The Lost Open – (9:31) Richard Sherman talks about the deleted character Elvira and two deleted songs which are presented in this special feature.
- “Oui Oui Marie” Music Video – (1:53) A modernized remix featuring little cat, Marie’s quotes.
- Classic Deleted Song: “She Never Felt Alone” – (7:56) A featurette on how the Sherman Brothers came up with “She Never Felt Alone”.
- The Sherman Brothers: The Aristocats of Disney Songs – (4:20) A featurette on the Sherman Brothers and their collaboration with Disney.
- The Aristocats Scrapbook – A gallery of images from “The Aristocats”.
- The Great Cat Family (Excerpt) – (12:51) An animated short on “The Great Cat Family”. Original air date on Sept. 19, 1956.
- Bonus Short: Bath Day – (6:39) An animated short featuring Figaro.
- Play Movie with On-Screen Lyrics – Ability to have a karaoke-style singalong during the film (for music segments only).
- Disney Song Selection – (10:44) Featuring the song selections for “The Aristocats”, “Scales and Arpeggios”, “Thomas O’Malley Cat”, “Ev’rybody Wants to be a Cat”.
- Disney Virtual Kitten – Adopt your own Virtual Kitty. Featuring two mini games and your very own printable adoption license.
- The Aristocats Fun with Language Game – Play along and learn the names and sounds of a variety of musical instruments.
“The Aristocats” comes with a slipcover case and a DVD version of both films.
When I first watched “The Aristocats” as a child, I think anyone who watched it, just felt the cats were so cute, especially hearing little Marie talk and sing or seeing oldest kitten, Toulouse trying to be a tough kitten, while little Berlioz is shy. But for the most part, it’s a straightforward story about a cat and her kittens lost in the middle of nowhere, in the countryside outside of Paris. And the hero, Thomas O’Malley willing to help Duchess and her kittens get back home.
But during the process through their adventures of returning home, Thomas and Duchess fall in love and even the kittens start to take a liking towards Thomas, as if he was their father.
“The Aristocats” is a fun, yet short animated film that families will love. Granted, it is a little dark when you read that Edgard the Butler is trying to kill the cats, but the way it is presented in the film, it’s more comical and there is no scenes that show any violence. If anything, Egard is quite inept, so aside from the cats falling off the car and being stranded in the countryside, there are no scenes of any abuse that parents need to worry about.
It’s a safe, straightforward family film that a new generation of fans or the young at heart can enjoy.
As for the Blu-ray release, the film looks absolutely wonderful in HD. This is an older 1970 animated film and while there is a hint of softness which is appropriate for a film this old, the film also showcases a unique style to it. From the heavy strokes outside of the characters and everything looking sketched but yet colorful and well-detailed when it comes to objects and scenery, “The Aristocats” looks great on Blu-ray and dialogue and music are crystal clear. The Blu-ray release also features quite a few songs and featurette including a bonus animated short of “Bath Day”.
Also, included along with this Blu-ray release is a DVD version of the film, which is great for vacation time and parents wanting to keep their kids occupied at home or during a commute.
Overall, “The Aristocats” is an easily accessible film for children and it’s not too long (at 78-minutes). Safe, fun and a family film that will entertain generation after generation, “The Aristocats” is a classic Disney animated film that looks and sounds great in HD via Blu-ray. For Disney collectors or parents wanting a fun family film, “The Aristocats” is recommended!
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