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Of all my Christmas albums, the soundtrack to A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS, featuring The Vince Guaraldi Trio, is probably my favorite. I guess watching A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS on television about thirty times, plus on DVD numerous times has burned that simple, but marvelous music into my brain. In addition to having the ability to listen to the music on CD, I can now watch A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS ($30) in high definition anytime I want thanks to a pretty terrific Blu-ray Disc release from Warner Home Video.

In A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS, we find Charles M. Schulz classic Peanuts characters getting ready to celebrate the Yuletide season. Everyone is happily going about his or her business preparing for Christmas, all except Charlie Brown, who is somewhat depressed that the holiday has lost its meaning due to crass commercialization. Charlie Brown visits Lucyís psychiatry stand for a nickelís worth of advice, where she determines that our hero needs some seasonal involvement to overcome his holiday blahs. This leads to Charlie Brown being made the director of the annual Christmas pageant. Of course, no one is willing to take direction from someone as wishy-washy as Charlie Brown, so he ends up instead, having to secure a Christmas tree for the pageant. As one might expect, the tree that Charlie Brown selects isnít what any of his highly commercial friends would consider ideal. Eventually, everyone finds the true meaning of ChristmasÖ that is, after a few words of wisdom from Charlie Brownís pal Linus. Although produced in 1965, Charles M. Schulzís story has lost none of its relevance. In fact, the plot of A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS seems to become more relevant with each passing year. A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS features the vocal talents of Peter Robbins, Tracy Stratford, Christopher Shea, Chris Doran, Sally Dryer, Kathy Steinberg, Ann Altieri and Bill Melendez.

Like previous DVD editions, this Blu-ray release also includes the bonus feature ITíS CHRISTMAS TIME AGAIN CHARLIE BROWN, which is also presented here for the first in high definition. Produced in 1992, ITíS CHRISTMAS TIME AGAIN CHARLIE BROWN does have a lot of amusing moments, however it lacks that special magic that has made A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS a holiday favorite for over four decades. The plot of ITíS CHRISTMAS TIME AGAIN CHARLIE BROWN still has our hero searching for the meaning of Christmas, while his sister Sally tries desperately to remember her single, one-word line in the schoolís holiday play.

Warner Home Video has made A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.37:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS comes with a very nice 1080p presentation, which will delight fans, but is unlikely to win any new converts to Blu-ray. Considering that this animation was produced on a modest budget, with the intention of only being broadcast at the standard definition level, I have to say the Blu-ray does maximize everything present in the original production. A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS has never looked, crisper, more precisely drawn or more vivid than it does here. Of course, flaws that were present in the original animation are more noticeable, but they donít detract from oneís overall enjoyment of the presentation. Colors are quite vibrant and rock solid. Blacks are suitably inky, which enhances the sharpness of the animation. Whites are wholly stable. Contrast is very pleasing. As I mentioned, flaws in the original animation are noticeable, but I didnít detect overt signs of age in the film elements. Grain isnít particularly overt. ITíS CHRISTMAS TIME AGAIN CHARLIE BROWN also looks pretty darn nice and has been given a good quality high definition presentation.

A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a Dolby Digital 2.0 192kbps soundtrack that seems identical to what was contained on the previous DVD release. The sound is competent, but unremarkable. Most signs of background hiss and other audible flaws have been cleaned up during the mastering process. Dialogue is clean and fully understandable. Fidelity has some age related limitations, but nothing beyond expectations. Personally, I wish they could have juiced up the music from The Vince Guaraldi Trio and offered it in a lossless encode, but as it stands the music sounds pleasant enough. No other language tracks are present, but English subtitles are provided. ITíS CHRISTMAS TIME AGAIN CHARLIE BROWN doesnít have any appreciable sonic flaws.

The interactive menus provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as A Christmas Miracle, a sixteen-minute look back at the production of A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS, as well as the afore mentioned ITíS CHRISTMAS TIME AGAIN CHARLIE BROWN. A Digital Copy of the program is also provided.

A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS is a must own holiday classic. On Blu-ray, A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS looks better than it ever has before. Recommended to fans transitioning to high definition.



A Charlie Brown Christmas [Blu-ray] (1965)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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