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DVD Review HTF REVIEW: THE MANY ADVENTURES OF WINNIE THE POOH

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Matt Hough, Jun 14, 2007.

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  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Well-Known Member
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    The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
    Directed by John Lounsbery, Wolfgang Reitherman

    Studio: Disney
    Year: 1977
    Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
    Running Time: 74 minutes
    Rating: G
    Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, French, Spanish
    Subtitles: EHD
    MSRP: $29.98

    Release Date: June 19, 2007
    Review Date: June 14, 2007

    The Film

    3.5/5

    A.A. Milne’s whimsical books about his son’s stuffed animals come to life were purchased by the Walt Disney Company in 1961, and the first animated short was released in 1966. Subsequent shorts followed in 1968 (winning an Academy Award) and 1974 (netting an Oscar nomination). In 1977, the three shorts were blended into a feature film with new bridging sequences and a coda to bring the story to a logical conclusion. The “new” feature was called The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh which received its first DVD release in 2002 on its 25th anniversary. This new repackaging, subtitled “The Friendship Edition,” continues Disney’s series of DVD reissues of its classics in new editions.

    Winnie the Pooh (voiced by the great Sterling Holloway), a not-so-bright bear of a gentle nature and a warm and fuzzy disposition, spends most of his days searching for honey and devouring it. He’s joined in his quests by such friends as the shy Piglet (John Fiedler), the sullen donkey Eeyore (Ralph Wright), and in the latter two shorts Tigger, the bouncy tiger (Paul Winchell). Pooh and his friends’ adventures are of the slight sort, rarely manic or very frightening, and the humor in the shorts is more genteel than raucous. The friends must deal with angry bees, blustery winds, and a fear of heights among other small conflicts.

    The tone of the stories is very mild, perfect for children young enough to grasp story concepts without anything too disturbing going on that might lead to frightening bedtimes, but unlike Disney’s animated classics from Snow White onward, there is less here for older children and especially adults to enjoy other than the pleasure of seeing their small fry enchanted by these delightfully capricious characters (which they more than likely will be). Though the shorts were produced during the period when Disney was turning out more energetic animated features such as The Jungle Book and Robin Hood, the pictorial quality and the sweetly naive pitch of these featurettes is closer in spirit to The Rescuers. Additionally, the songs provided by the Oscar-winning Sherman Brothers are as delightful as ever and will do doubt continue to be sung along with for generations to come.


    Video Quality

    3/5

    The original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 is adhered to faithfully in this new DVD issue. Sadly, Disney has done no digital clean-up on the feature, and there is a somewhat dated look to the entire picture along with occasional spots of dirt. The focus is sharp, and the color saturation adequate, but there is moderate grain throughout. More problematic, there is ghosting around images occasionally which causes brightness fluctuations that are sometimes very distracting. In comparison to the previously released 25th Anniversary Edition, I could discern no variations in the two transfers. It appears to be the same video master used in this new DVD transfer. The film has been divided into 21 chapters.

    Audio Quality

    3/5

    Though the sound mix is billed as Dolby Digital 5.1, the sound is monophonic for the most part with only the barest amount of sound coming from any of the other speakers and that during the credit sequence. LFE is generally nonexistent. The sound is clear; there’s no hiss, crackle, or distortion, but it’s a 5.1 mix in name only.

    Special Features

    3.5/5

    Almost all of the special features from the 2002 DVD are ported over into this new release. This includes a 20-minute “making of” featurette that details the origins of the books and Disney’s acquisition of them, the decisions to go with featurettes instead of one long feature at the beginning, and some of the voice casting in the picture. The 4:3 documentary is nicely put together and is the best special feature on the disc.

    Two of the songs from the film are given special treatment on the DVD. Carly Simon sings the main theme in a 2½-minute musical style video. Tigger’s song “The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers” is provided sing along subtitle lyrics in a 1½ -minute showcase.

    “The 100 Acre Wood Challenge Game” is a simple mixture of trivia quiz and search and find puzzles for the junior set at home.

    Also intended for the smaller fry is a short storybook called “Pooh’s Shadow” which children can read aloud on their own or follow along as a narrator reads it to them.

    For folks who have seen the movie countless times, there’s a switch to turn on pop-up trivia facts that play throughout the movie. Most of the information is quite interesting and worthwhile to know, but this has to be accessed from the bonus features menu rather than from the set-up menu.

    Behind the scenes stills on the making of the film as well as conceptual art, film cell backgrounds, movie posters, and theme park ride pictures make up a “Winnie the Pooh Art Gallery.” This section can be flipped through manually, or you can have the DVD play it as a 9-minute streaming video with narration, a nice touch.

    Two animated extras are also included. “A Day for Eeyore,” which was also included on the 2002 DVD release, finds Eeyore in a more depressed mood than usual because his birthday has been forgotten. The 25-minute short is presented in 1.33:1. The 1983 movie short has lower quality animation than that found in the main feature.

    Not included before is an episode from the Disney Channel’s My Friends Tigger & Pooh program. This show uses CGI representations of the characters rather than hand animated drawings of the familiar inhabitants of 100 Acre Wood, and, of course, the voice cast is all different from the originals. Still fans of the show will enjoy seeing these two slight mystery segments from the hit show.

    (Not included from the 2002 release were two sneak preview trailers for then-upcoming Pooh themed programs.)


    In Conclusion

    3.5/5 (not an average)

    Though the company prefers to think of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh as another in the string of Disney animated masterpieces, I think it falls a little short of that title. It’s certainly a lovely, charming animated feature that the younger members of the family will undoubtedly cherish. That it has less to offer older viewers is what keeps it from achieving that pinnacle of excellence that other Disney animated films which are true masterpieces have achieved.


    Matt Hough
    Charlotte, NC
     
  2. Randy Korstick

    Randy Korstick Well-Known Member

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    Its sad that they re-issue this and still do not release it in its original theatrical ratio of 1.75:1. I think they think most people incorrectly believe these were done for T.V. The 2nd one even won an academy award for best short feature. This should be treated with more respect. This is still a no sale for me.
     
  3. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?

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    wow you quoted the entire review.

    anyway.
    i love this film.
    i dont know if i need to buy it again for the third time.
     
  4. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Well-Known Member

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    3rd time? This is the second DVD, isn't it?

    No reason to get it unless you want that "bonus episode" of the TV show. I think the two DVDs are identical in every other way...
     
  5. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?

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    laser disc
     
  6. Jeff Swearingen

    Jeff Swearingen Well-Known Member

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    If I remember correctly, the animation was made in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1. Disney typically matted their animation for theatrical presentation, but the proper ratio is not 1.75:1. I don't believe Disney typically animated for widescreen until the 1980s - Sleeping Beauty (Technirama), Lady and the Tramp (Cinemascope), and a few shorts being some exceptions.
     
  7. Brian Kidd

    Brian Kidd Well-Known Member

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    A DAY FOR EEYORE wasn't even animated by Disney, IIRC. IMDB doesn't have anything on it, but I think I recall seeing a different animation company in the credits of the film. I'll have to check it out if I get a chance. It really doesn't hold a candle to the other shorts.

    That's another thing, you have to remember that this was only released as a feature after all three stories had been done as shorts, years apart from one another. Of course the quality varies. There were three separate crews on each short! That being said, the first two stories are great, with "Blustery Day" being my favorite. "Tigger Too" is not nearly as good as the first two. I suspect that there wasn't much that could be done about restoring the film, as the feature version would have been made up from dupe elements anyway, and not the original negatives of the shorts. I suppose parts of the film could have been remastered from the O-negs but it would have looked terribly uneven and would have cost some money. Pooh is a big money-maker for Disney, but not enough that they'd foot the cost of a full restoration at this point.
     
  8. Randy Korstick

    Randy Korstick Well-Known Member

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    The extemely tight framing on the sides and images being cut off from time to time does not support this and it is not the way I remember it in the theaters. 1.75:1 was Disney's standard ratio for just about all of their 60's and 70's releases.
    For the record each of the 3 shorts were made for theatrical release and released as short subjects to support a main feature. They were later released together in 1977 as this feature film but they were always theatrical shorts.
     
  9. Radioman970

    Radioman970 Well-Known Member

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    That's what I thought as well.

    I revisited this a few years ago and was saddened at how much it had aged since I was 7 or 8. The reviewer really hits the mark on this one. I'm still happy to own it on DVD (althought I won't upgrade) and one day I'll watch it with my own kids. It reminds me of a simpler time and I think there's more than just my own nostalgia for it that drives that.

    Brian, I also thought Blustery Day was great. Best of the film and something I'd never forgotten since I was tiny.
     
  10. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    I won't need to upgrade from the prior release of this either.

    The charm of these shorts is endless. But they are also quite powerful in their simplicity and message.

    We still kid my just-married daughter about how much she was scarred when Pooh was chased by the bees from the honey tree. [​IMG]
     
  11. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Well-Known Member

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    I don't suppose there's any way for someone to find a 1.75:1 image from this for a comparison. I'd like to buy this for my son, but the film geek in me won't allow it if it's MAR. Randy, how does the framing look to you?

    The new CGI series is a little cloying for my tastes. The CGI Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is much better (shocked as I was at first when I saw CGI Disney characters!).
     
  12. Randy Korstick

    Randy Korstick Well-Known Member

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    My theatrical viewings were back in the 70's so admittedly they are somewhat vague but I remember it looking big and lavishly produced in the theater. I only rented the DVD and own the Laserdisc both of which have this version and it doesn't have the same big and lavish feel I remember and many of the scenes look cramped and items and characters get cut in half many times and I just can't see the Disney animators animating it that way. As I mentioned Disneys features from the 60's and 70's were usually 1.75:1 notable exceptions being many Wonderful World of Disney TV shows which were combined into a feature length show and released to the theater. These would have been matted to 1.75:1. Disney's home video department has a history of inconsistant OAR from animated to live action releases.
     
  13. Jeff Swearingen

    Jeff Swearingen Well-Known Member

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    The Disney OAR debate comes up over and over around here...

    Links discussing Disney aspect ratio.
    http://www.ultimatedisney.com/oar.htm
    http://www.dvdtimes.co.uk/content.php?contentid=63420
    http://www.thecinemalaser.com/letters-to-the-editor.htm (See post from 1/6/00)

    Ernest Rister has done many informed and researched postings on the Disney animated OAR debate on HTF, but I haven't been able to find the exact info in a couple of quick searches (he only made 4,000+ posts, and he left HTF a while back). Randy, you may want to look to those for more info.
     
  14. Bill Thomann

    Bill Thomann Well-Known Member

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    Great review Matt. I'm glad I held onto the original version when I heard this was coming out so I will not do a double dip. The only thing I could use from the current release is the disneymovierewards code as I've got about half the points I need for 6 movie tickets. If anybody does pick this up & doesn't belong to the rewards program I'd love it if you would pm or email me with the code. I got my Terabithia code with that purchase today & an extra 100 points would definitely help.
     
  15. Jefferson

    Jefferson Well-Known Member

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    The 2002 release...despite what the packaging said....had an English language track in mono (at least to my ears)..... while its foreign language tracks were in stereo....odd, i thought, since the vhs release of this title was in stereo.
    From what you've said it seems like this was corrected.
     
  16. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Well-Known Member
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    I can check that out tomorrow and post here. When I compared the 2002 and 2007 releases, I was paying more attention to the quality of the video transfer since the soundtracks for both sounded mono except for the credits despite the packaging's information or the the readout on my equipment.
     
  17. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Well-Known Member
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    I did check out the 2002 WINNIE THE POOH DVD, and the English track is Dolby Digital 5.1. While the rear surrounds are almost never in use, I noticed that the music and sound effects are spread across the front channels constantly with dialog centered, of course.
     
  18. vnisanian2001

    vnisanian2001 Well-Known Member

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    Post removed.
     

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