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Dumbo (70th Anniversary Edition) blu ray...another timeless classic from Disney
on September 20, 2011
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.
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)
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.