Peter Pan

Peter Pan (1953)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Extras: Commentary Track, Featurettes, Pirate Treasure Hunt Game, Image Gallery, Sing-Along, Interactive Storybook

To coincide with the theatrical release of "Return To Neverland, " Disney Home Video has now released the original 1953 animated feature film "Peter Pan" on DVD as a Special Edition. The movie tells the story of Peter Pan who lives in Neverland where he and his rascals never want to grow up.

The DVD features a beautifully restored transfer of the movie in its original <$PS,fullframe> aspect ratio. The transfer is very clean and absolutely stable and you would never guess that this film has a considerable age. Colors are vibrant and bring out the full beauty of this lovingly painted film. Good contrast helps define lines very clearly with deep blacks and good highlights, never washing out the image. Occasionally very fine lines appear blurred somewhat as a result of the image compression, but for the most part, this is transfer that suits this classic Disney gem very well.

The DVD features a newly remixed <$5.1,5.1 channel> <$DD,Dolby Digital> mix that, despite it being remixed, maintains the original vintage quality of the original mono track. The frequency response is still noticeably limited, resulting in a somewhat "tinny" sounding presentation. I don’t mind really, as to me, this is part of the charm of these classic films, while the remix makes sure, the audio is nicely integrated, adds some spatial information and removes all noise and distortion. Alternatively, French and Spanish language tracks can also be found on the disc.

The DVD contains another gem in the form of a <$commentary,commentary track> hosted by Roy Disney – who sounds incredibly much like Walt Disney himself. The track features many people who have worked on the film, including the immortal Walt Disney. How could that be, you ask? Well, the track is edited together from audio clips and interview segments from the past, sharing insight into Disney’s vision, as well as his collaborators on the movie. The track is full of valuable information both historically and technically and will be a treasure for all Disney buffs.

"The Making Of Peter Pan" is an insightful featurette that takes a look at the origins of the story, its movie incarnations, as well as its ultimate adaptation by Disney for an animated feature film. It gives viewers a look at rare vintage behind the scenes footage, storyboards and other production materials as it explores how the film was made, and also introduces us to the voice talents who brought the characters to life.

"The Peter Pan Story" is the original 1952 featurette that was used to promote the movie. It is interesting and somewhat similar in nature to the previous one, but offers a slightly different view as a result of its age and original purpose.

The disc also contains some advertising disguised as a promotional featurette, giving viewers a look at "Return To Neverland." It feels a bit superficial and out of place on this release, I’m sorry to say.

You will also find a great image gallery on this release. It is divided in different sections, such as "Abandoned Concepts," "Character Designs" and "Visual Development." The gallery is filled with incredible images that illustrate how the material has evolved to its final state. From crude pencil sketches, to full paintings, everything is here in its full glory.

For the younger viewers, the DVD also contains the Peter Pan Sing-Along for "Follow The Leader" as well as an interactive storybook, called "Peter’s Playful Prank." The DVD is rounded out by a "Pirate Treasure Hunt" game. It is a trivia game that tests your knowledge of the movie that is certainly entertaining enough to keep the youngsters occupied for a while.

Interestingly the disc’s "Set Up" menu didn’t display the menu entries properly in computer-based DVD players, while working correctly in set top players. This is a minor flaw, but I thought I’d point it out for those of you who intent to view the movie on a DVD-ROM drive. While the menu entries are accessible and fully functional, you just can’t see the text for them.

"Peter Pan" is a great release and clearly a DVD that has to go into the collection of any Disney fan. The film has never looked better as this transfer wipes out every incarnation I have seen before. It is perfectly clean and very stable without any of the registration problems that plagued some of the other home video versions. The extras are nicely composed and especially the <$commentary,commentary track> is an invaluable asset to the disc. The extras are designed to appeal to both, mature viewers as well as children and as such, "Peter Pan" is definitely a must-own DVD for all Disney fans and Collectors.