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Dumbo (Big Top Edition)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Before discussing the video, we should bring back a little history about under what conditions Dumbo was made. Dumbo was the fourth feature film by Disney: 1) Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs (1937), Pinocchio (1940) and Fantasia (1940). After excessive spending on Fantasia, and despite the popularity and critical acclaim heaped upon Snow White, Pinocchio and Fantasia, these films were not moneymakers and Disney studio was almost bankrupt. Additionally, due to the war in Europe, they were cutoff from the overseas market. So, what Disney needed was an inexpensive box office success, and Dumbo was to be it. It would be a relatively short film with a concise story and low production costs that would appeal to a wide audience.

At first glance, and in the context of Disney's own efforts up to then, Dumbo appears less artistic, more cartoony than the three earlier films. In the case of Dumbo, this art has been pared down to the absolute minimum, consistent with pleasing audiences and making money. And Dumbo did make a profit, and is credited for having saved the studio.

VIDEO:

This 70th Anniversary Edition film comes in AVC/MPEG-4 1080p 1.37:1. Although this film was made with a lower budget compared to Fantasia or Pinocchio, and the restoration was not as detailed as Pinocchio and Sleeping Beauty, the final result is still a very pleasing and amazing picture. Colours are solid and vibrant at times. The transfer is so clear and sharp that strokes from a paintbrush are often noticeable, as well as slight aging of the print and faint blemishes. Dumbo here showcases deep blacks up through clean whites. (4.5/5)

AUDIO:

Dumbo's soundtrack has been fully restored and given a brand new lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix that is spacious and dynamic. However, the purists would have preferred that the original Mono and a new Mono lossless track be included.

The film won an Oscar for Best Musical Score and a nomination for the song "Baby Mine". And look at how Disney dramatizes the song in a series of mother and child tableaux, alternating sentiment with deft humour. At least the song had the good taste to lose to the Meryl Steep of composers: Jerome Kern, for "The Last Time I Saw Paris." (4/5)

Dumbo is such a good film, that you can completely understand it without audio, solely based upon its plotting and the characters' expressions. That said, note that neither Dumbo nor his mother talk. Their actions certainly do speak louder than words.

The film is pure emotion; a sweet tale of keeping up one's spirits even in the worst of times. Dumbo is a distillation of everything Disney animators had learned to that point. Animation, remember, is not the art of painting, but bringing drawings to life - to animate the inanimate. It isn't animals that they are breathing life into, it is drawings of animals, or people, or tress, or anything they choose. Its precision in storytelling (film was only 64 minutes long) is groundbreaking for an animated feature.

Dumbo is a sweet and short film about an outsider utilizing his scorned assets to his advantage. Compared to its 60th Anniversary DVD edition, both the video and audio are vastly improved. It is a timeless classic that the whole family will enjoy...again and again. Highly recommended.
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I love these movies and feel so happy to get them on DVD. They are more permanently accessible in my DVD library. But I may be the wrong person to answer your question because I am elderly and cannot speak for the millions/ billions younger than I.
What I can say is that it is wonderful to find AMAZON.CA as a rich resource for obtaining thee early Disney masterpieces despite the marketing ploys of "Mr. Disney's" contemporary reps who insist on holding back redistribution/ release of these works.
There seems to be a loss of artistic integrity in our present world.
I look forward to purchasing more of these masterpieces from the past - but, as I've mentioned, I may not belong to the appropriate feedback audience.
I congratulate you on your "humane" decision to keep these wonderful works alive and available to the public. And they seem to be in pristine condition despite one glitch I had with the magnificent Fantasia/ Fantasia 2000 which, as I understand from feedback from many friends, is a movie so many peoples from all ages love. As a musician I consider it to be a magnificent wonder, combining so professionally and perfectly narrative, music, and art work.
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For some reason, I never saw most of the Disney classic movies when I was growing up - but I'm certainly having a good time watching them all these years later. Dumbo, of course, may be the most beloved Disney film of them all - despite the fact that it is relatively short (64 minutes), sports a pretty simplistic style of animation, and features a main character that never speaks a single word. The film's popularity is due in large part to the story itself, as there is a little bit of Dumbo in all of us. At some time, we've all been embarrassed by our appearance, laughed at and snubbed by those around us, and been made to feel like a complete loser.

Everyone knows the story already. Poor little Dumbo, with his big ears, is ridiculed and called a freak by the other elephants, harassed by kids going in to see the circus, separated from his mother, and eventually made into a clown, the very embodiment of his unhappy life. Only little Timothy Mouse befriends him, and his spirit of optimism and commitment to help Dumbo prove himself are needed more than ever when things go from bad to worse. In the end, the very thing that makes Dumbo different turns out to be the source of his greatest strength. The message of the film is pretty simple: believe in yourself, even when others put you down and, for heaven's sake, don't make fun of someone just because he looks different. Dumbo is also a story about love, particularly the love between a mother and child, and the importance of friendship.

Classic Disney films such as this are both wonderful and remarkable - yet so many of them are also sad. I imagine that children, while they will certainly understand the themes of this story, don't connect to the film on the same emotional level as I do as an adult. I really got emotional watching this - right from the start, with the sadness exuded by Mrs. Jumbo as she watches children being delivered to seemingly every one but her. It's tough watching Dumbo suffer ridicule and embarrass himself further by tripping over his big ears, suffer a cruel separation from his mother, and mope around with those tears spilling out of his big blue eyes, but I made it through all of that OK. Then came the scene where he visits his mother in her solitary confinement. If Leonard Maltin can admit that this film makes him cry every time he watches it, so can I. I don't know how anyone can get through that visitation scene without shedding at least one tear.

I said the animation was relatively simplistic, but that does not mean it isn't spellbinding, nor does it mean you won't encounter any scenes that are rather stunning in detail. Some of the professionals interviewed in a 15-minute featurette included on the DVD do a great job of pointing out the most remarkable scenes (and everyone has something to say about the Pink Elephant sequence, which is just bizarre and certainly memorable). Other special features include an audio commentary by film historian John Canemaker, a short, one-minute introduction to the film by Walt Disney himself, a photo gallery of conception art and storyboards, a video of the song "Baby Mine" performed by Jim Brickman with Kassie DePalva, and two short cartoons, Elmer Elephant and The Flying Mouse. Additional bonus materials aimed more specifically at young viewers are Sing Along Songs for Look Out for Mr. Stork and Casey Junior, a DVD storybook which children can read along with, and a "My First Circus" game that teaches children about the different kinds of animals normally found in a circus.

In a perfect world, Disney would just send a free copy of Dumbo to every set of parents in the country. Since that isn't economically feasible, I hope that as many parents as possible do make Dumbo a part of their children's young lives. This classic animated film is everything you would expect from Walt Disney - and more.
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on May 5, 2004
There is so much debate to what is the best ever cartoon animated movie and you'll get answers such as "The Little Mermaid", "Aladdin", and "The Lion King". But this movie is above and beyond better than them and all the other cartoon animted movies. I wouldn't call it the best G Rated ever because of the likes of live-action G Rated movies such as Babe and Gordy and computer animated G Rated movies such as Toy Story but before all those, there was Dumbo. All those movies have heart-warmth and Dumbo is a big reason why because it's a pioneer for those movies. It's the first G Rated ever made that warmed people's hearts because of a young circus elephant that wanted to find his mom because she was taken away from him. The best part in the movie is when he goes to visit his mom and she's rocking him in her trunk. That part really touched my heart. The other character I like is the mouse. He's very funny and the fact he befriends this very sad elephant is classic friendship. Sure this movie might be out-dated now but to us fans, it will forever be a classic!
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on March 5, 2004
After the financial failures of both Pinocchio and Fantasia, Dumbo was a smash success, the film told the sweet and simple story of a little baby elephant who had a small, but big problem, his ears were so big that everyone teased him and made fun of him, his beloved mother was locked up after trying to defend him from a bunch of mean kids and Dumbo is alone facing a world of injustice, luckily for him, a small mouse friend named Timothy will help him find that his great ears can be used to fly. This is one of Disney's sweetest tales, although it is many times unfairly described as racist, and now it's time for me to say what I feel about his racism. We see a scene where all these black men are working on setting up the circus, all of them black, well that is no reason to say that the film is racist since "racism" is the belief that one race is better than another or it also means being descriminated due to someone's skin color, well that isn't happening in this scene, it is just describing how things were back in the days, these men are not being descriminated. So back to the film, it is great and one of Disney's shortest since it does not even reach the 70 minutes.
The DVD is exactly what a Disney standard should be, it brings many different bonus features and one or two classic cartoons, a DVD that all Disney fans should own.
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on February 10, 2004
If you've read some of the reviews bellow, you'll notice alot of defending of this film going on. Yea, a member of the PC police wrote a review saying they'd ban there kid from watching this crule, insensative, irresponsible cartoon. Here's a list of why this film is a great opportunity to entertain AND educate your kids;
EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES
-You can use this film to discuss how cruel teasing can affect others. The teasers are THE BAD GUYS!!
-Point out how hurtful bahaving in an exclusive manner can be.
-Discuss how "Dumbo" perseveres dispite the opinions of others.
-IF they ask, point out how bad things CAN happen when you use drugs or alchohol.
-Talk about how cultural sensativities have changed since the 1940s. (The crows stereotyped as "blacks" is actually pretty shameful. I don't point this out because my kids don't get it.)
ENTERTAIN
-extremely pure and simple story. Kids love this film.
-"Casey Junior" song stick in your brain. My 20 month old is enthralled by the train.
-"Elephants on Parade" is a real "Trip". It is more remarkable when you consider the lack of computer technology at the time.
-The faceless "roust-abouts" are a little creepy, but my kids survived.
-The ending is as sugar-coated as you would ever want, which is why people love this film.
DVD
-Totally re-mastered. Flawless.
-2 shorts related to flying and elephants are ok.
-Black and White Sound stage clip from "The Ruluctant Dragon" is pretty cool.
-Enough extras for a couple of hours.
I think the main take-away from this review is that;
-you can choose to protect your kids from everything
or
-you can teach them how to cope with situatutions that they will inevitably encounter.
I certainly would not ban my kids from seeing an imaginative art peice like "Dumbo". In the famous words of Dori in "Finding Nemo"... "If you don't let anything happen to him, then nothing will happen to him. Not much fun for little Elmo".
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on November 24, 2003
DUMBO is my favorite Disney film. Although is it barely 1 hour long, it is packed with complex themes and gorgeous animation, far beyond what was being done 60 years ago. DUMBO is a dark film, with echos of film noir. It is frequently raining or snowing, and much of the action takes place at night. Although much has been written about the hallucinatory "Pink Elephants on Parade" number, my favorite sequence (in fact, my all-time favorite Disney animated sequence) is the erecting of the circus tent scene. During the pouring rain, the circus workers, assisted by the elephants, put up the tent in a fantastic ballet of social realism, echoing the best of Ben Shahn and Diego Rivera. The animation swings around the scene, taking in only an arm here, a swinging hammer there. Topped by that swirling soundtrack, this scene is the best that Disney has ever done. The story may, at times be a bit too intense for younger viewers, but no more so than other Disney films where parents die (e.g., Bambi), or tense moments occur. On top of it all, the main character never speaks a word. This ain't no "bare necessities" film, rather, it is simply a work of art.
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on August 29, 2003
'Dumbo' is one of my all-time favorite Disney classics. It's timeless! Everytime I watch it the story never gets old. There isn't another sweeter movie to match it. It's a darling story of how a little elephant with unusally big ears finds that no matter how unique you are you're always have a purpose in life. Who says that a character gotta speak in an animated film or any film for that matter? It's the emotion and facial expressions that speak louder than words. The innocence and sentiment surpasses it peers to a priceless treasure. You'll fall in love with the characters Dumbo and his circus companion, Timothy Q. Mouse. Other highlights of the movie is the scenes with the Crows and the music score (won an Academy Award in 1942 for Best Music Score), "When I see an Elephant Fly" sung by the Hall Johnson Choir, the pink elephant (could this be an 1941 anti-alcohol message?). You'll find yourself shedding a tear to "Baby Mine" (nominated for an Academy Award in 1942 for best song). If not, I pronounce you clinically brain dead. I always feel lulled into a calm state-of-mind every time I hear it. Try it sometime! In my honest opinion, the Top 10 all-time greatest Disney classics would be: 1. Dumbo, 2. Mary Poppins, 3. The Jungle Book, 4. Winnie the Pooh, 5. Pochantas, 6. Tarzan, 7. The Lion King, 8. Lady and the Tramp, 9. The Love Bug, 10. Fantasia.
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on August 28, 2003
I am really not sure where to begin writing a decent sophisticated review with proper transitions, etc. ya da ya da- but I got to open up and say I LOVE this movie! It is quite possibly my favorite movie period. I am 17 and I have loved this movie for as long as I can remember; it's even better now, because I am old enough to appreciate its wonderful messages and morals. It's an anti-animal cruelty flick seen from the animals' point of view and pointing out the ignorance of the humans, and a realistic depiction of how cruel and unjust the world can be, and what can be done to overcome despite it all. Anyway, for those of you who aren't familiar with the plot (get your heads out of your rears and watch this, PLEASE) it's the story of a baby elephant delivered to Jumbo on a circus train from a stork. He is immediately derided by the fellow elephants and human audience because of his oversized ears. The only ones who who show any compassion are his mother Jumbo, and his friends-a mouse named Timothy and a flock of crows who give him support and encouragement.
I love the cleverness and depth of this movie- the mother and friends that stick up for him even if it results in sacrifices for themselves (Jumbo being confined from the other elephants for "disorderly conduct"), the loving bond between mother and son, and the anti-discrimination messages. By the way, this movie isn't racist, I know for a fact that it's ANTI-racist (uncountable reasons why that would require an entire separate review) and the crow scene was not intended to demean black culture but embrace it, (with a black cast); many people misread the content and took it the wrong way, seeing as most things at the time were condemnable and ignominious. Pretty outstanding for 1941 when there was still so much bigotry in the US. The same thing happened with the 1942 cartoon "Coal Black the Seven Dwarfs". And the "Roustabouts" scene wasn't bigoted, either. It's just a fact that in those days it was common for brothers to be willing to take the [bad] jobs if better ones weren't available, am I right? I am black myself telling you all of this, so does that make any of this more convincing? I'm not naïve and I discern racism when I see it. The completely different selection of writers and blackless cast for the monkey scene in the Jungle Book, however, is an entirely different situation, but lets not get into that. If you are one of the neurotically oversensitive people who DO thing this movie's racist, your kids won't know anyway unless you rub it in their faces; you're only aggravating things.
Anyway, the parts of the movie that will delight people of all ages are the quaint and adorable animation of the animals and the classic catchy songs. My faves are the cute "Look Out For Mr. Stork", the clever pun-filled soul song "When I See An Elephant Fly", the hypnotic "Elephants On Parade", the catchy tunes "Casey Junior" and "Roustabouts"... they're all so good. The few good characters are lovable- benevolent Jumbo, cute little Dumbo/Jumbo Jr., the witty and hilarious (and cute may I add-I love cartoon birds) crows, the charismatic Timothy, and "good ol'" Mr. Stork. I detest the rest of the characters. The heartless elephants, that awful red-haired kid teasing Jumbo Jr., the selfish Mussoliniesque circus trainer who had disregard for the well-being and proper husbandry of the animals, and the *cough* clowns. Those are the most hideous clowns I have ever seen and have lurked in my nightmares as a child. What I also don't like about this film are the alcohol/drug references, anti or not. Although it may not do too much harm being that to the younger naive audience it will have no significance and to the older audience simply amusing and humorous, I still find the idea of an infant elephant getting drunk in a children's movie a little disturbing. And that psychedelic pink elephant scene- try and tell me that there weren't stoners involved in the writing and production of that part of the movie. As a little kid I thought it was entertaining on the eyes, now it makes me laugh, but I still can't help but wonder why that didn't frighten me as a small child. And how the neglecting elephants all of sudden started respecting Dumbo just because he was famous? That always made me outraged.
Despite of the film's few blunders, there are many times more good qualities that could make me care less. This movie literally is a classic.
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on August 21, 2003
Ok I grew up with this movie, meaning I can't remember a time when I did NOT know this movie. The people who talk about racism, I had to stop and read to even know what they were talking about!
For one thing, the song Roustabouts? The people were all black? I for one couldn't tell, it was nighttime and everything was dark! I never thought they were all black. And the lyrics in the song are racist and demeaning? I don't know about you but to this day I can barely tell what they're saying! The lyrics always seemed quite garbled and unintelligible to me. I always just thought it was a cool-sounding song that went along to the beat of them hammering in the tent stakes. I hardly think any child is going to hear this song and pick up a racist attitude. I certainly didn't, and I was not an unintelligent child.
And as for the crows, I NEVER connected them with black people when I was a child. They were CROWS. I remember thinking that they were musicians, but I never stared at the screen and thought, "Oh, those crows are supposed to be like black people! Black people all smoke cigars and wear striped shirts!" I think people are reading too far into it and assuming too much about the connections their children will make. Children will not view cartoons with a racist attitude, especially if it is animals and not people that are being depicted.
Dumbo has some wonderful lessons in it. The film is certainly not PRO animal cruelty, it is most obviously against it. Children viewing it will learn to treat animals kindly because it shows them with feelings and emotions. Poor little Dumbo crying after his mother is taken away never fails to choke me up. The scenes of Dumbo's mother being whipped and locked up are heart-wrenching, but I think children need to be exposed to things like that. Life is hard and without a concept of how difficult life can be, how will they ever grow up with any sense of reality?
The sequence where Timothy brings Dumbo to visit his mother in her cage is so touching, I cannot watch it without getting tears in my eyes, and movies rarely make me cry. Just thinking about it makes me misty. It would make anyone appreciate having a loving mother.
Dumbo is a great movie for children, it is loaded with morals and important life lessons and I can't imagine why anyone would not want to let their child view it.
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