Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Dumbo - 70th Anniversary Edition (DVD/Blu-Ray Combo) Review

Dir: Sam Armstrong, Norman Ferguson, Wilfred Jackson, Jack Kinney, Bill Roberts, Ben Sharpsteen
Cast: Edward Brophy, Verna Felton, Sterling Holloway, James Baskett
USA, 1941

Reason to see: A classic underdog story is always a yes from me

Dumbo is a timeless, A lively and spirited film that really creates a true emotional connection with its audience. You can't help but relate to Dumbo, a cute little elephant with enormous ears whose just excited about everything in this big new world and receives unconditional love from him mom, Jumbo. Not everyone is as accepting of the big-eared elephant, which leads to challenges not only for him but also for his Mom with the other circus animals and attendees, and believe you-me, you don't want to mess with Jumbo! It's amazing to see the timeless factor here, as even 70 years later with this 70th year anniversary edition the story of Dumbo still reads crystal clearly with it's theme of mistreating people of diversity is still so very relevant to day, as is the power of a strong family connection and protective mother/child relationship.

Visually, Dumbo is a beautiful treat with bright colours and gorgeous animation set in the circus world with fantastic use of scale and colour. I was particularly fond of the use of shadow and transparency, and the interesting choice that we view this world mostly from the perspective of the animals and the humans are often seen as shadows or through shadows, in dream states or distanced in another way. It creates an us vs. them set up, and then further so breaks that down with collapsing the animals together within just their animal group and any intermingling is done usually under cover of darkness, but also is the time when we see different opinions and possibilities creating the analogy that if you stay in the small confines of like-minded folk you won't see or learn anything new. That's a philosophy I can get behind! Now, just be care to mind the finding-his-feet big-eared elephant who also on that path.

Dumbo is a timeless story of being a little different and finding your own way while all along showcasing the importance and power of family and friendship. Plus, it's cute, funny and visually stunning. The DVD/BluRay is jam-packed full of fantastic extras about the film and Disney's history from a wealth of experts and historians. It's a great choice for family viewing as it truly can be enjoyed by all.

DVD Extras:
  • Audio Commentary with Pete Docter (Director with Pixar Animation Studios), Paula Sigman (Disney Historian) and Andreas Deja (Animator at Walt Disney Studios) how it was a return to cartoons and the emotional draw and connection audience have with the characters, even if they aren't as realistic, the importance of the film at the time and the importance of the studio to have a hit at the time. They touch on the themes of the story and the original book, how the film doesn't have a realistic look or focus on the humans but rather the animals, the influence from other films including German Expressionist film, the bright & light colour scheme, the strong mother-child story, the importance of the film at the time and it's financial success. Also chat about people on the development team and the voice actors who came from radio, their other works with Disney and have audio commentary and stories inserted by many people who worked on Dumbo and/or at Disney at the time.
  • Deleted Scenes (2 scenes, 9 minutes) Deleted Sequence: The Mouse's Take a behind the scenes look at the Disney Animation Research Library and the 1940 giant mice & prehistoric elephants sequence they found when looking for special features for the edition - this is a lovely feature with not only the history behind a lost chapter but also to have it told through archived still images with accompanying voice over. timothy's story of why elephants are afraid of mice. (5 minutes) and Deleted Song: Are You A Man Or A Mouse? An inspiring song from Timothy to Dumbo to set to a beautiful selection of sketches of Dumbo & Timothy with a lead-in from the actual placement it would have in the film (4 minutes).
  • Backstage Disney: Taking Flight: The Making of Dumbo (28 minutes) film clips from Dumbo and other Disney films, photos from Walt Disney Studios at the time, sketches, storyboards, reference materials for movement study and interviews including Walt Disney Animation Studios Supervising Animator Eric Goldberg, Pixar Animation Studios Jim Capobianco & Jonas Rivera, Animation Historian John Canemaker and Disney Historian Paul F. Anderson, Didier Ghez & Paul Sigman, discussing the Disney films leading up Dumbo and placing Dumbo in Disney's history and film & animation history in terms of it's relevance, importance and impact, the things that all Disney films aspire to, why Dumbo connects with people, the book the film was based on, the people who worked on Dumbo & how they came together, their time at Disney & their animations styles plus the process behind characters creation and story development at Disney in this and other Disney films, the influences of the film and the music of the film.
  • Walt Disney TV Introduction (1 minute) historical "The Story of Dumbo" with Walt Disney introducing Dumbo for TV broad cast, and giving a brief story behind the film as well as introducing a lead in right to when Dumbo would begin.
  • The Magic of Dumbo: A Ride of Passage (3 minutes) featurette on the Dumbo ride at Disneyland with conception drawings, historical & current day footage of the ride from the original design and redesign of the ride at Disneyland, plus people sharing stories on the appeal of it for small kids and memories of the ride over the years.
  • Sound Design Excerpt From "The Reluctant Dragon" (5 minutes) really cute historical promo for seeing the sound created for train cartoon.
  • Learn How to Take Your Favourite Movies on the Go - Digital Copy
  • Trailers Original Theatrical Trailer (1941) and Theatrical Re-Release Trailer (1949)
Blu-Ray Extras:
  • All the DVD Extras noted above plus:Disney View - Expanded Viewing Experience, Cine-explore Experience, Animated Shorts "The Flying Mouse" and "Elmer Elephant", What Do You See? - Decipher The Scrambled Images in This Game and What Do You Know? - Trivia Game & more.
Dumbo is available on DVD as of September 20, 2011. Check it out over at Amazon.ca & Amazon.com

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I'll watch it again
I highly recommend it as family film

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© Shannon Ridler, 2011

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