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 release marks this movie’s first appearance on Blu-ray and with an aspect ratio wider than any previous home video version.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
Audio: English 2.0 DD, English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Run Time: 1 Hr. 14 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copykeep case with slipcover
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 08/27/2013
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), the worried Rabbit (Junius Matthews), the wise Owl (Hal Smith), 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 even with a dose of Disney slapstick destruction of Rabbit’s home or Owl’s lodgings. The friends and their human companion Christopher Robin (Bruce Reitherman, Jon Walmsley, Timothy Turner over the years in the three shorts) must deal with angry bees, blustery winds, and a fear of heights among other small conflicts.
The Production Rating: 4/5
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 naïve pitch of these featurettes is closer in spirit to The Rescuers. Additionally, the very simple, hummable 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. And the coda added for the feature, where Christopher Robin seeks out Pooh to tell him he’s going off to school (and effectively leaving his childhood with him behind) is quite emotionally right and not over sentimentalized, much to the credit of the animators.
The voice cast is simply wonderful with these characters (and Sebastian Cabot who serves as the narrator). So indelible are Sterling Holloway and Paul Winchell and the others with their characterizations that subsequent Pooh shorts and features have bent over backwards finding voice actors who can mimic the cadence and pitch of these superlative performers. For those who have seen this film (or the shorts before they became a feature) numerous times, no one has ever been quite able to get the sound of the voices exactly right in all the years since. This is the definitive animated account of the Pooh tales that should be sought out.
The film has been framed at 1.66:1 and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. Purists will not be happy with the changeover from 1.33:1 which was the aspect ratio used on all previous home video releases, and while the film plays just fine for the most part (only a couple of moments where characters go up out of the frame during vigorous activity), there will obviously be debate about the aspect ratio decision. As with all Disney animated features, the amount of clean-up may be more than some fans want (the DVD releases seemed to have some dust specks), and again there is some slight motion blur with the images particularly early in the film which might be due to the use of DNR to de-grain the images. Color is consistent throughout the presentation (though it’s clear the films were produced over a period of years since the size and look of some characters changed from one short to the next, and the second and third shorts seem a little richer in color than the first one). There’s a slight bit of banding to be seen but no problems with aliasing with lines solid throughout. The film has been divided into 21 chapters.
Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix spreads the Sherman Brothers’ songs and the background score by Buddy Baker through the soundfield in the most expansive aural treatment this film has ever had on home video. Dialogue is easy to discern and has been placed in the center channel. It is never overwhelmed by the music or the film’s sound effects.
Audio Rating: 4/5
Disney Intermission (HD): pops up when the movie is paused. The content is the same as the next bonus feature listed. This feature may be turned off in the set-up menu.
Special Features Rating: 3/5
Pooh Play-Along (1:48,HD): the narrator mentions activities various characters are engaged in during intermission (all clips from the feature).
Mini-Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (HD): five modern animated shorts which may be played together or separately.
- “If I Wasn’t So Small” (2:17)
- “Piglet’s Drawings” (2:02)
- “The Expedition” (2:32)
- “Geniuses” (2:32)
- “The Honey Song” (2:32)
The Story Behind the Masterpiece (25:05, SD): 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.
“Winnie the Pooh Theme Song” Music Video (2:34, SD): Carly Simon performs.
Promo Trailers (HD): Planes, The Little Mermaid, Jake and the Never-Land Pirates
DVD/Digital Copy: enclosed disc and code sheet
Mini-Kite: enclosed inside the case
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is 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 classic Disney animated films which are true masterpieces have achieved. Still, it’s unthinkable that families with small children would want to be without it. Recommended!
Overall Rating: 4/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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