New Disney Re-Issue Was Well Worth The Wait

Courtesy:  Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Walt Disney Studios’ home entertainment division has been very busy this year.  The company’s home division has released no fewer than ten of its classic and more recent movies to Blu-ray/DVD combo packs this year so far.  And even more are planned for release before the year’s end, including a handful of holiday themed features.  That makes for a very crowded field in terms of re-issues from Disney.  Families are thus left wondering which of the current crop of re-issues are the most worth adding to their home libraries.  One that is definitely worth adding to any family’s home library is the brand new re-issue of the 1977 classic, The Many Adventures of Winnie The PoohThe Many adventures of Winnie The Pooh is one of Disney’s most timeless works.  Taken from author A.A. Milne’s series of children’s books, this collection of stories is perfect for the entire family.  And it looks even better than ever now that it has finally been re-issued in high definition.  The quality of the footage hasn’t lost anything in the transfer from its most recent DVD release to its new Blu-ray release.  In connection, the movie’s animation style stands out as some of the most impressive of any true animated feature rooted in hand drawn animation.  Along with the beautifully hand-drawn animation, audiences will appreciate the inclusion of the fourth of the stories in the Winnie The Pooh franchise, A Day for Eeyore as a bonus feature.  Also included as bonuses, are a handful of mini-adventures and even the standard “Making of” featurette that adds more insight into how this feature was brought to life.  All of this taken into consideration, it all works hand-in-hand to make The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh a must have for any kid and kid at heart.

The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh is a must have for any kid or kid at heart.  It is a perfect piece from Disney to add to any family’s home library.  The first and most important reason for that is how the collected stories were culled for the overall presentation.  Instead of the current trend by film makers to try and pull a bunch of different stories for one presentation, this presentation clearly separates Pooh Bear’s adventures.  They did so expertly, making the transitions completely smooth.  Audiences will love how the directing team of John Lounsbery and Wolfgang Reitherman had Pooh (and later Tigger–voiced then by Sterling Holloway and Paul Winchell respectively) break down the fourth wall in interacting with the narrator (Sebastian Cabot) at different points in the story.  It’s a cute moment for the family, but also quite an ingenious way to separate the stories, too.  Just as ingenious was the manner in which Lounsbery and Reitherman had their animation team incorporate Pooh and company into the story, showing the text on the pages with the characters acting out everything being read.  This would eventually go on to be a staple for the features based on Milne’s books, and a welcome one at that.  It doesn’t necessarily break down the fourth wall.  But it adds a certain charm and individuality to the story.  That’s because no other studio at the time was doing this.    It’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what audiences will appreciate in this new re-issue.  This is especially the case for those seeing it for the first time or even the first time in years.  Audiences will appreciate just as much, the original hand drawn animation throughout the feature.

The man for whom Walt Disney Studios was named died in 1966.  That was eleven years before this adaptation of Milne’s works had even been considered by anyone at Disney.  Many critics agree that the quality of Disney’s releases went down after his death.  However, had he been alive to see that his legacy had been carried on in The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh, he would have been very proud.  That is because the previously released movies that comprise this presentation—Winnie The Pooh and the Honey Tree, Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day and Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too!—were each features in which Disney had a direct hand.  So seeing his previous works combined into one larger feature serves as a fitting memoriam to Disney’s legacy.

The animation and the writing in the stories culled for The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh work hand-in-hand to make this feature a truly fitting memoriam to Walt Disney’s legacy.  The brand new Blu-ray/DVD combo pack includes another feature that serves as just as much of a memoriam in the form of Eeyore’s Day Out.  The fourth release in the series of stories about everyone’s favorite bear follows the same formula as the stories culled for The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh.  There’s the fourth wall being broken down, the solid writing in general, and the equally impressive hand drawn animation.  The story of Eeyore’s Day Out centers on the eternally depressed donkey on his birthday.  Pooh, Rabbit, Piglet and the others had all forgotten, making Eeyore even sadder.  Of course, everything turns out just fine and will leave any viewer with that warm, fuzzy feeling that the previous Pooh tales so wonderfully do.  Making it even more enjoyable is its lessons of friendship and forgiveness.  It serves to make this a wonderful addition to the whole set that is the brand new Blu-ray/DVD combo pack of The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh.

The inclusion of the bonus Pooh tale is a great addition to this newly released re-issue.  There is still one more factor in this set that audiences will appreciate.  That final factor is the standard “Making of” featurette.  This bonus feature goes into full depth about how The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh came to life.  From the animation to the music and even the work of the voice cast, “The Story Behind The Masterpiece” shows just how much work went into making sure Walt Disney’s wish of making this feature happen was honored.  Audiences will love hearing the legendary Sherman Brothers discuss the feature’s musical numbers, including everyone’s favorite song about Tiggers.  Who out there knows the best thing about Tiggers?  The explanations of the old school animation style used to create every single movement of each character shows how much work used to go into making these works of art.  And it is sure to make any art lover and general viewer appreciate that work and its end result versus the far drier and sterile CG pieces that are created by every animation studio out there today.  It is the icing on the cake that is this deliciously wonderful new re-issue from Walt Disney Studios and Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.  Both the standard DVD and double disc Blu-ray/DVD/Digital combo pack are available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct online at http://movies.disney.com/the-many-adventures-of-winnie-the-pooh and http://www.disneystore.com/the-many-adventures-of-winnie-the-pooh-2-disc-combo-pack/mp/1341260/1000316/.  More information on this and other re-issues from Walt Disney Studios is available online at http://www.facebook.com/WaltDisneyStudios.

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Cinderella Still One Of Disney’s Finest After More Than Six Decades

Courtesy: Walt Disney Home Entertainment

Walt Disney’s take on the classic fairy tale, Cinderella is one of the most important stories in the history of Hollywood’s vast arena of animated features.  It is also one of the most important movies in the equally storied history of Disney’s company.  Cinderella was for all intensive purposes, the movie that saved Disney Studios.  Don’t believe that?  Just watch the special features on the brand new upcoming Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack re-issue of this classic Disney story.

Disney Studios’ debut animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, was a hit.  But as noted in the bonus features of this new re-issue, the two movies that followed—Pinocchio, and Fantasia—paled in comparison to Snow White.  Yes, they were successful movies.  But they never reached the heights of Snow White.  Audiences learn here that until Cinderella came along in 1950, Disney had to rely on military training films for income.  It’s fitting that when Cinderella finally debuted in 1950, its very first musical number centered on dreams and wishes.  Cinderella sings that a dream is a wish your heart makes while you sleep.  When Walt Disney first started up his company, he had a dream; A wish if you will.  And fittingly, Cinderella helped to make Walt’s dream come true just as Cinderella’s dream came true.  As one of the figures interviewed notes, it is in its essence, a rags to riches story.  Take away the romance element of the story, and Cinderella really is an underdog story.  Taken from that angle, it’s a story that every viewer can appreciate.

Courtesy: Walt Disney Home Entertainment

The success of Cinderella can be attributed to a number of factors.  It’s not just that underdog/rags to riches story that makes it enjoyable.  It was the work that went into bringing the story to life that still makes it a success today.  From the animation itself to choosing voice talents to live shoots, the extensive bonus features included in this new re-issue show why despite all the knockoffs over the years, there is still only one Cinderella.  Audiences will be amazed to learn that before pen and pencil even hit paper, Disney actually shot a live action version of the story.  That live action shoot would become the model for Disney’s animators, the famed “Nine Old Men.”

Speaking of models, one animator even proudly displays his physical model of Cinderella’s carriage.  Anyone who has any interest in theater production will be in awe of how he came up with the model that would eventually become its own on-screen legend.

Along with discussions on live shoots and models, also included with this new re-issues is a discussion on Mary Alice O’Conner.  O’Connor was married to animator Ken O’Connor, who was charged with designing Cinderella’s fairy godmother.  It was Mary Alice who would be the model for the beloved figure.  The story of Mrs. O’Connor depicts a woman who was an exact fit for this iconic figure.  O’Connor gave of herself so selflessly throughout her life, expecting nothing in return.  She gave because she wanted to make people happy and took joy in seeing others take what she started and make something even greater from that start.  Anyone who is dry-eyed after watching this feature simply isn’t human.

The feature on Mary Alice O’Connor brings things right back to the feature focusing on choice of voice talents.  By now, audiences should see why Cinderella was, is, and always will be one of the most important works in the history of animated features.

Cinderella will be available Tuesday in a brand new Blu-ray/DVD combo pack in both DVD and Blu-Ray packaging.  Fans can order it online at http://disneydvd.disney.go.com.

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