Treasure Island

Treasure Island (1950)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Cast: Bobby Driscoll, Robert Newton, Basil Sydney, Denis O’Dea

In time with the DVD release of their latest animated movie, ’Treasure Planet, ’ Disney is also releasing their 1950 version of the Robert L. Stevenson story ’Treasure Island’ on DVD. It is one of those films that they just don’t make any more. Oozing atmosphere, glorious photography and beautiful colors, it is one of those adventure films many of us grew up with and got to love.

Disney is presenting the movie in its original fullscreen presentation on this DVD. During the first minutes it seemed as if the transfer would be severely marred by scratches and speckles but once the opening credits are over, the movie actually presents itself with a fairly clean and stable print that reveals all the richness of the production. Occasional blemishes are still evident, but given the movie’s age, they are nothing to be concerned about. It is the lush production and the gorgeous colors that make this transfer so wonderfully rich. Black levels are also well reproduced, creating the right balance of brooding darkness and stark contrasts that this production needs to achieve its full effect – although overall the image looks a bit dark. A bit too dark, maybe.

The DVD contains a 5.1 channel remix of the original track that is clean and absolutely clear of hiss, pops or noise. However, it seems a bit wasted, as it doesn’t make any use of the surround channels – at least none that I would notice as such. However, the track has good clarity and sounds surprisingly fresh for its age as a result of the remastering, with a decent frequency response. Sadly no extras have been added to this release.

’Treasure Island’ is a fabulous classic pirate tale that still lives up to its intents. The vintage feel of the film only adds to its perceived authenticity, as bushy-browed and heavily scarred pirates with beautiful costumes try to pry their information out of a little, rather ordinary boy. Watching it, also reminds you just how close ’Treasure Planet’ actually was to the original story despite its transplantation into space.

I love everything about this film – the story, the costumes, the production, the music – and it’s great to see it all so faithfully restored on this DVD.