I’ve been trying with the Disney animated classics.
Trying to like the new Blu-rays.
I really have.
I’ve even reviewed them well, hoping for something to change.
For about a decade, I’ve been forgiving them their exigencies, as they try to get films that shouldn’t look like Toy Story to be precisely that.
The worst, for me, was Snow White, a little 1937 film, that had some sequences (think Snow and the Huntsman) so horrific, that they looked like stagnant, post card images, with parts of cells frozen in time, with not a single bit of film grain to create the magic of a cohesive image.
Disney(‘s) new Blu-ray of this glorious 1955 film, while a bit better than Snow White, similarly removes the magic of motion, and the natural patina of film grain, that made these films what there were.
There are two sides to this debate.
There are those who will tell you that this isn’t really a film at all.
They’re all drawn cells. Photographed to create the illusion of movement.
But that’s what film is.
Nothing moves, as we move from frame to frame. It’s all just a long (very long) strip of fillum.
And that film grain was merely something that was a necessity toward creating a means of replicating, and getting these films on to motion picture screens.
Remember, these films were shot on black & white film, which was then used to produce printing matrices, all of which had grain.
You can’t ship hundreds of multi-plane flip-books.
And, of course, this is correct.
The films are created from cells, and photographed to create an illusion.
But that’s not the way that they were originally seen, and the removal of the original film grain (at least for me) destroys that overriding cohesiveness that binds the cells together, and allows us to believe that they’re moving.
The latest incarnation seems to be a bit more cleaned up than the previous release (the Diamond Edition), and it’s now playable on every device that Walt never imagined, possibly down to one’s Apple Watch.
Let’s also be very honest about this.
There are a couple of very separate audiences involved.
Kids won’t give a damn about film grain, and those under two will probably just drool, and smile at the pretty “oof-oof” faces, or whatever they call them.
But to those of us who grew up with these films, and understand the art of cinema, it’s become more than troubling. With all due respect to Disney management, and they’re a great company, I was hopeful that when one of the top animation execs took a leave, or whatever, that things might change, but it appears not.
Walt’s company seems to be set in their ways, and I in mine.
I can no longer excuse their desires to make everything shiny and new, and drool-worthy for tots.
Make no mistake.
Walt’s Lady and the Tramp is still a miraculous, gorgeous animated entertainment, but on screen, without it’s proper, or at least a small replaced sheen of film grain, it’s deader than a doornail.
What may be necessary here, (and please, no 4k releases) are two versions, on the same Blu-ray disc. 2.55, 76 minutes = no problem.
One modernized and beloved by drooling tots, and some studio execs, and the other for dotty, old fans of the cinema.
Image – 2
Audio – 5 (DTS-HD MA 7.1)
Pass / Fail – Fail
Upgrade from previous Blu-ray – No