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A few words about...™ Dumbo -- in Blu-ray

A Few Words About

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#1 of 2 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

Robert Harris

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Posted September 23 2011 - 06:59 AM

Disney's Dumbo must be one of the biggest tear-jerkers of all time.  The ethic of having young children watch as other youngsters are separated from their mothers, is something that played out more than once in Disney films.


Finally, we're seeing more of the classic features, and these are true classics, released on Blu-ray.  And if one takes a look, there really aren't that many of them produced during a thirty year period.  Keep in mind that during that era, and beyond, when the cells were hand drawn and colored, it took years to create a feature animated film.


Now Dumbo, (1941) joins Snow White (1937), Fantasia, Pinocchio ( both 1940), Bambi (1942) and others, rounding out the 1930s and '40s.  Almost.  What we've not yet received from the vaults on Blu are the featurettes such as The Reluctant Dragon, the concept films such as Saludos Amigos,  and the combination live action/animated films, the most notoriously missing of which is one of my all time favorite films, Song of the South.


I see no reason for it to be held back, unless one takes into account that it's the story of a young white boy (Bobby Driscoll) whose parents don't seem to have time for him, and his real family becomes the slaves or ex-slaves (I don't believe we ever really know what year this is taking place) working on the plantation.  Filmed in Technicolor by the great Gregg Tolland, it proved that Mr. Tolland was a genius at more than just black & white.


Getting back to the tiny number of Disney animated classic produced, the 1950s saw a meager five, and the 1960s just a few in addition to Mary Poppins.


The Disney organization has returned to nitrate original negatives for these films, and every effort has gone into making them as perfect as possible.  "Perfect," especially when one gets into the discussions of grain and color, are very much in the eye of the beholder.


And Dumbo, which is totally gorgeous on Blu-ray, with true Technicolor hues, fits in perfectly with the rest of the Disney Blu-rays, shorn of grain, but looking extremely clean.  It's almost like looking at the original cells, if they were able to be animated without film. The only anomaly here is that while the foregrounds are grainless, occasional backgrounds have grain frozen, every so softly, in place.


I'm not suggesting that this is a bad thing, although it isn't what I'd like to see, but it continues to work as it has for all of the earlier films, possibly with the exception of Snow White, which in certain scenes, with moving grain removed, begins to look like a picture post card.


Returning to the release at hand, Dumbo on Blu-ray does everything that it should, inclusive of showing off what Blu-ray is very good at -- allowing extremely sharp, crisp and clean images to be viewed in a home theater environment.


My suggestion is to get a copy, fire up your Blu-ray player, and make certain to have plenty of Kleenex or equivalent at the ready.


Recommended.


RAH


"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#2 of 2 OFFLINE   Charles Smith

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Posted September 23 2011 - 07:10 AM

It's being fired up this evening.


And thank you for those amazingly simple and clearheaded words re "Song of the South"!