Dumbo (1941)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Extras: Commentary Track, Music Video, Art Gallery, TV Introduction, Featurettes, Sing-Alongs, Animated Shorts and much more

For 60 years now, "Dumbo" has been a family favorite among all the animated Disney movies and it is immediately understandable, why that is. The charm, the sweetness and the emotions that permeate the film are stronger than in any other one, and what’s more important they ring so very true. To celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the movie, Disney has just released a Special Edition DVD version of their beloved animated movie "Dumbo."

It is the story of an outsider, an elephant boy who is different. Because his ears are overly large, Dumbo is made fun of by everyone in the Circus he’s growing up at and more and more he feels worthless and out of place. He becomes the circus clown and if it weren’t for the constant love and nurturing of his mother, Dumbo may never have realized that being different can be a good thing. But with her support Dumbo uses this newfound knowledge and soon becomes the celebrated star of the show and with the help of his friend, Timothy the mouse, Dumbo manages to break the shackles of his life and even make it to Hollywood.

The <$PS,fullscreen> presentation of "Dumbo" on this DVD is certainly pleasant, but not quite as striking as the recently restored version "Snow White." The print is mostly free of defects and blemishes but there is quite a bit of grain evident in the picture as a result of its considerable age. It gives the image a vintage feel but may be a bit distracting to certain viewers at times. Colors are nicely rendered in the presentation but are lacking a bit in liveliness on occasion. While this is a generally good-looking video transfer, the image seems to be lacking in sharpness and definition somewhat as a result of the grainy nature of the image and a fairly low bitrate used. Removing some of the extras from the disc may have helped to create an even better-looking presentation.

The DVD contains a newly remastered <$5.1,5.1 channel> <$DD,Dolby Digital> audio track that is very pleasing. Although still suffering from a noticeably limited frequency response, the track is certainly more natural sounding and offers a lot more dynamics than the original mono track may have been able to produce. Sibilance and harshness have been removed and the track has a nice bass roll-off that creates an overall natural sounding experience.

"Dumbo" comes with a number of extra features, such as an <$commentary,audio commentary> by animation historian John Canemaker. Although Canemaker is obviously working from a prepared script, often enough he finds time to talk about the film more freely, loosening up the atmosphere a bit in order to provide a commentary that is never too dry to enjoy and one that offers valuable insight into the production of Disney movies at the time and animation genre in general. Apart from the myths not much is really know about the making of these early Disney films and <$commentary,commentary track>s such as this – along with some of the other features found on this disc – help immensely to fill that gap.

The DVD also contains the music video for "Baby Mine," which has been re-recorded by Michael Crawford. "Celebrating Dumbo" is a featurette that takes a look at the success of the movie in terms of its effectiveness. With interviews by movie critics, directors, animators and other members of the industry, the featurette shows us what makes "Dumbo" so special and memorable.

You will also find a "Dumbo" Art Gallery on this disc, offering many never-before seen conceptual sketches from the movie, as well as images outlining character development, story development and many other areas of the film. Nicely organized with individual sections, this is a great archival addition to the disc that fans will love.

If you ever wondered how the sound is created for animated films, this DVD contains a special, entertaining short film that takes you behind the scenes of the Disney studios at the time. Light-hearted, yet informational, this film is truly a gem that shows just how enormous these sound productions were in the pre-digital and pre-editing age.

When Disney animated movies were originally shown on TV, Walt Disney himself usually made short introduction to these films, and the DVD also contains Disney’s introduction to "Dumbo." Needless to say that it is always great to see Walt Disney himself.

"Dumbo’s Big Discovery" is an interactive storybook/read-along that can also be found on the disc and will be especially exciting for your children as they can explore the story at their own pace. A short promotional clip about the upcoming "Dumbo II" is also included. Although it does not contain any footage from the new film, it features a number of interviews and plenty of pre-production sketches that look very promising.
In the "Publicity" section of the disc the original 1941 theatrical trailer of "Dumbo," as well as the 1949 re-release trailer are included.

The disc is rounded out by two Sing-Alongs as well as tow additional short films,, entitled "Elmer Elephant" and "The Flying Mouse," treasures from the Disney Vault that would otherwise be lost or forgotten.

"Dumbo" is a heartwarming story that touches everyone and it is still one of Disney’s most beloved movies. This Special Edition DVD contains a good-looking presentation of the film that is not flawless, but at the same time not disappointing either. Together with all the extras and exciting supplements, this is another great release of a Disney animated classic that immortalizes the film. For fans of animated movies, there can be no question that "Dumbo" is a must-own release that should go into everyone’s collection.