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(70th Anniversary Edition)

1941’s DUMBO ($40) was the fourth full-length animated production by Walt Disney and was produced on a less ambitious scale than his previous effort, FANTASIA. Running a scant sixty four minutes, and due to its straightforward production values, DUMBO demonstrates some qualities indicative of a conscious effort by Disney to economize, and thusly, recoup some of the losses incurred from the production excesses of FANTASIA. Despite its sense of economy, DUMBO remains one of Walt Disney’s greatest animated achievements. Bottom line… DUMBO tells a simple story in a simple fashion, but does so with great beauty and obvious artistry.

Set in a traveling circus, DUMBO tells the story of the baby elephant delivered to Mrs. Jumbo by the stork. Mrs. Jumbo is ecstatic with the delivery; however, due to her baby’s oversized ears, the gossipy, mean spirited female elephants taunt little Jumbo Jr.… nicknaming him Dumbo. While protecting her son from the ridicule of circus patrons, who are making fun of Dumbo’s ears, Mrs. Jumbo is deemed a "mad elephant" and locked away from her son. With no mother to care for him and being virtually shunned by the other elephants, Timothy Q. Mouse takes it upon himself to become Dumbo’s mentor and protector. Timothy’s first attempt to elevate Dumbo’s status at the circus goes horribly wrong, which results in Dumbo being made part of the clown’s act. Despite some newfound popularity and fame, Dumbo becomes even more miserable due to the demeaning qualities of his part of the clown’s act. Eventually, Dumbo’s oversized ears show their value and provide the little elephant with an unexpected talent, which improves his fortunes, and those of all concerned. DUMBO features the vocal talents of Edward Brophy, Verna Felton, Herman Bing, Sterling Holloway, Cliff Edwards, Noreen Gammill, Dorothy Scott, Sarah Selby, Malcolm Hutton and John McLeish.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has made DUMBO available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.37:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. The 1080p presentation is really quite striking, thanks to the digital rejuvenation that the film elements have undergone. DUMBO looks truly beautiful in high definition-with virtually all signs of age having been expunged. The image is crisp and delightful to look at, with all of artistry of the Disney animators being brought to glorious light. Colors are vibrant, without being overblown, and deliver the essence of an IB Technicolor print. Blacks are deep, while the whites are crisp and clean. Contrast is quite smooth. As I stated above, the film elements from which this presentation has been mastered have been digitally rejuvenated, which makes this seventy-year-old film look brand new. Modest grain remains within the image, which maintains an organic quality.

DUMBO is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. For a film that has reached its seventieth anniversary, the soundtrack proves quite pleasant. As expected, fidelity has limitations, despite the lossless encode. The music remains a little thin and trebley, yet the songs come across well enough. Stereo and surround imaging is more than respectable for a vintage soundtrack that originated in the monaural realm. Dialogue is crisp and fully intelligible. Most of the age related background hiss and other audible anomalies have been cleaned up in the mastering process, leaving the track with a reasonably smooth sonic quality. A cleaned up version of the film’s original theatrical soundtrack is also present on this release. French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials. Starting things off is a Cine-Explore mode, which is a picture-in-picture experience hosted by Pixar director Pete Docter, Disney historian Paula Sigman and Disney animator Andreas Deja that include pop-up supplements that relate to individual moments or sequences within the film, as well as other aspects of the production (requires a Profile 1.1 player). A Disney View mode is also included, which replaces the black bars on the sides of the image with related artwork. Featurettes and other programs include: Taking Flight: The Making Of Dumbo (twenty eight minutes), Celebrating Dumbo (fifteen minutes), The Magic Of Dumbo: A Ride Of Passage (three minutes), Original Walt Disney TV Introduction (one minute) and Sound Design Excerpt From The Reluctant Dragon (six minutes). We also have some Disney Bonus Shorts that include Elmer Elephant and The Flying Mouse. Deleted Scenes, Art Galleries, Theatrical Trailers and Bonus Trailers close out the standard supplements. DUMBO is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player). Disc two contains a DVD edition of DUMBO.

DUMBO is simple, beautiful and brilliant… a true Walt Disney gem. The Blu-ray presentation offers one the ability to appreciate the beauty of DUMBO in all its glory. Highly recommended.


Dumbo (Two-Disc 70th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack in Blu-ray Packaging) (1941)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2011 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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