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Currently showing posts tagged Fantasia

  • Bambi (1942) Signature Collection Blu-ray Review

    Bambi (1942)

    Director(s): David Hand, James Algar, Samuel Armstrong, Graham Heid, Bill Roberts, Paul Satterfield & Normal Wright

    Starring: Bobby Stewart, Donnie Dunagan, Hardie Albright, Peter Behn, Stan Alexander, Paula Winslowe, Will Wright & Ann Gillis

    Released by: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Based on Felix Salten’s novel, Bambi charts a young deer’s adventures in the wild from infancy to maturity as memorable moments and dangerous encounters shape him into the prince of the forest he was born to be.

    Intended to be Walt Disney’s followup to his critically acclaimed debut of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the tale’s bleaker tone and Disney’s perfectionism to capture realistic animated depictions of the characters required years of extensive development before fully coming to fruition.  A master of intuitive storytelling, Disney’s softening of the material for his family-friendly audience proved wise while, the slow and oftentimes demanding nature of bringing more lifelike expression to forest animals than ever before would payoff as one of the studio’s most visually dazzling sights.  Quieter on dialogue with the changing of seasons, complimented by musical orchestrations and the chimes of nature’s critters, unfolding the narrative, Bambi invites viewers to the miracle of a baby deer’s birth as we witness his first steps and words before befriending lifelong friends Thumper, the adorable scene-stealing bunny, and Flower, a bashful skunk.  Cared for by his protective mother and slowly learning how to survive the harsh winter seasons, the threat of gun-touting hunters alter the young deer’s life forever in a sequence long considered one of Disney’s most tragically effective.  Taken in by the fatherly great prince of the woods, Bambi comes of age, returning to the wilderness of his youth to reunite with old friends, falls for a fellow deer and faces his greatest challenge yet when his home is engulfed in flames.  

    The fifth of Disney’s cherished animated features only behind other such classics as Fantasia and Dumbo, Bambi excels through its gorgeous visuals and flawless animation that once again set a new bar of excellence for the studio.  A costly investment that failed to recoup its original budget, Bambi’s impact on audiences has never wavered and continues to delight viewers with its humorous moments of Bambi struggling to find his balance on ice and the tearjerking drama conveyed through its moments of personal loss.  A touchstone achievement with timeless themes of love and conservation at its core, Bambi stands as animation’s lasting love letter to nature and all its majestic inhabitants.

    Recycling their Diamond Edition transfer from 2011, Walt Disney Studios’ Home Entertainment’s 1080p transfer (1:33:1) of Bambi is just as marvelous as before with the gorgeous greenery of the woods, vibrants colors found in the various furs of the animals and fantastic background paintings looking flawless.  Meanwhile, the same DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix is once again on hand delivering dialogue clearly and giving eloquent force to Frank Churchill and Edward H. Plumb’s beautifully dreamy score.  

    In addition to presenting the Original Theatrical Edition (1:09:50) with optional DisneyView and a thoroughly interesting Inside Walt’s Story Meetings: Extended Edition (1:35:55), new supplements include, Studio Stories: Bambi (4:56) featuring archival recordings of Walt Disney culled from interviews circa 1956, Deleted Scenes (7:25) with introductions by Animator Floyd Norman, an Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in Africa Before Dark (5:50) short film, The Bambi Effect (3:00) and Bambi Fawn Facts (3:34).  Furthermore, vintage bonus features carried over feature Classic Deleted Scenes (3:07), a Deleted Song: “Twitterpated” (1:52), The Making of Bambi: A Prince is Born (53:15), Tricks of Our Trade (Excerpt) (7:18), Inside the Disney Archives (8:39), The Old Mill: Animated Short (8:58), The Golden Age (6:24) and the Original Theatrical Trailer (2:12).  Lastly, Sneak Peeks at Disney Movie Rewards (0:20), Cars 3 (0:57) and Beauty and the Beast (1:38) round out the on-disc extras.  Additionally, Celebrating Tyrus Wong (8:56), available only digitally, examines the long life of the famed artist, who passed away only last year at the age of 106, and his lasting impressions on Bambi.  Fans are also treated to a Collectible Tyrus Wong Lithograph in the packaging’s interior while, a DVD edition and Digital HD are also provided.

    Retaining the same splendid audio and visual specifications as its previous outing on Blu-ray, Bambi’s Signature Collection Edition joins the line with several new worthy supplements including a new Oswald the Lucky Rabbit short while, a stash, albeit incomplete, selection of classic extras are also on-hand.  Lovers, young and old, of Disney’s golden age efforts will be delighted to add this quintessential feature into their collections if they haven’t already and cherish the breathtaking sights of Bambi and his furry friends for years to come.

    RATING: 4.5/5

    Available now from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, Bambi can be purchased via Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

  • American Experience: Walt Disney (2015) DVD Review

    American Experience: Walt Disney (2015)

    Director: Sarah Colt

    Starring: Various

    Released by: PBS Distribution

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    In PBS’ exhaustive documentary of their long-running series, American Experience: Walt Disney centers on the polarizing man who dared to wish upon a dream and built an empire of magic and timeless entertainment.  From his early beginnings in the midwest to the development of his own successful studio and beyond, Disney’s complexities and enduring legacy are discussed through countless interviews with biographers, animators and historians in this detailed document of one of the greatest visionaries of all-time.  

    Narrated by Oliver Platt (Bicentennial Man), American Experience: Walt Disney takes viewers back to the cherished midwest origins of Disney where his initial attraction to animation and filmmaking began.  Boldly teaching himself how to crudely animate, Disney, along with noted animation veteran Ub Iwerks, opened his own moderately successful studio before making the leap to Tinseltown.  Joining forces with elder brother Roy, the Disney brothers opened their own new studio leading to the successful Alice’s Adventures shorts before his most popular creation, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, was swindled away from him by a blindsiding producer.  Driven by determination and sticktoitiveness, Disney’s creation of the rebelliously good-natured Mickey Mouse would become an icon to the public with popularity of the character’s technologically advanced sound cartoons booming.  Obsessed with pushing the boundaries of the art form, the Disney Studios quickly became a haven for hungry talent yearning to create within the walls of this unprecedented imagination factory.  As his Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphonies shorts infused color and other techniques, Disney continued to look towards the future.  Once considered not real art by critics, Disney and his talented stable of artists dazzled audiences worldwide with the first feature-length animated film, 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  Following up his landmark opus, Disney’s studio churned out other golden age classics including, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Bambi and Dumbo, each with vastly different styles but, all equally gorgeous representations of the now respected animated narrative.  

    While Disney’s many accomplishments are profiled in detail, Producer/Director Sarah Colt’s intimate look takes closer examination of the man himself and his strained relationship with his father, the financial woes struck by the studio during wartime and the animator’s strike of 1941 that Disney saw as a personal betrayal.  Crafting a humanizing portrait of the man many simply referred to as Walt, American Experience: Walt Disney delivers a deeply honest retelling of a brilliant yet, flawed individual told through interviews with Biographer Neal Gabler, Composer Richard Sherman, Veteran Imagineer Marty Sklar, Disney’s son-in-law Ron Miller and more.  As decades past, Disney’s ability to continuously revolutionize never waned in his later years as the legendary tycoon brought his whimsy to television screens across the country while crafting his most ambitious project of all, Disneyland.  Always delighted at the prospect of creating, Disney longed to develop an environment for families where fantasy ruled and the worries of reality were left behind.  Much like his impact in film and television, Disney changed the aspect of vacationing that continues to be felt nearly 50 years after his death.  Enthralling and inspiring, American Experience: Walt Disney stands as one of the most balanced and comprehensive examinations of Disney, allowing viewers to not only hold his many accomplishments in higher regard but, gain a stronger understanding of the American icon like never before.

    Presented in its 1.78:1 aspect ratio, American Experience: Walt Disney presents its newly shot interviews with a genuine sharpness that satisfies.  Although vintage footage of its subject alters in quality, clips from Disney’s many animated features arrive with nicely represented colors.  Equipped with a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, dialogue is clean and audible during interview sequences while, sound clips of Disney from decades past can be mildly hissy but, surprisingly still in fine shape for their age.  In addition, no special features have been included on this release.

    Cherished and complex, Walt Disney’s ideals and achievements continue to shape a culture still enamored by the game-changing genius.  Amidst criticism of over-sentimentality, Disney’s legacy thrives with new generations charmed by his revolutionary works and immersive worlds of fantasy.  Nearly four hours long and standing proudly with Bob Thomas’ “Walt Disney: An American Original”, American Experience: Walt Disney is an expertly crafted document juggling the flaws and unwavering optimism of one of history’s most creative minds.  Fascinating and personal, American Experience: Walt Disney is an essential work of striking depth for devoted Disney enthusiasts.

    RATING: 4.5/5

    Premiering on PBS September 14th-15th and available on DVD September 15th, American Experience: Walt Disney can be purchased via ShopPBS.com, Amazon.com and other fine retailers.