Dumbo: 70th Anniversary Edition

Featured In Issue 161, November 2011

WSR Score5
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Walt Disney Home Entertainment
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-50)
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A, B & C
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Ben Sharpsteen, Norman Ferguson, Wilfred Jackson, Bill Roberts, Jack Kinney & Sam Armstrong
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Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono, DTS HD Lossless 7.1
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Released theatrically in 1941, Dumbo was Walt Disney's fourth animated film and won the Academy Award® for Best Music. In celebration of this landmark film's 70th anniversary, the daring adventures of the world's only flying elephant receives a dazzling all-new digital restoration and brilliant Disney Enhanced High-Definition Theatre Mix Sound in the 7.1 format. This is the inspirational tale of Dumbo, the courageous baby elephant who uses his sensational ears to soar to fame with the help of his clever best friend Timothy Q. Mouse. Dumbo is a story with empowering messages about friendship and belief in yourself. (Gary Reber)

Special features include a deleted sequence: "The Mouse's Tale" (HD 05:37); a deleted song: "Are You A Man Or A Mouse?" (SD 03:56); the following under "Backstage Disney": Taking Flight: The Making Of Dumbo (HD 28:08), The Magic Of Dumbo: A Ride Of Passage (HD 03:09), Sound Design Excerpt From "The Reluctant Dragon" (SD 05:57), Celebrating Dumbo (SD 14:53), the Original Walt Disney TV Introduction (SD 01:05), the original 1941 theatrical trailer, the 1949 theatrical re-release trailer, and eight art galleries, including the 1941 original Dumbo storybook; two bonus shorts: Elmer Elephant (SD 08:31) and The Flying Mouse (SD 09:21); two games: "What Do You See?" and "What Do You Know"; sneak peeks; up-front ads; a digital copy; and a DVD of the film.

Faced with the daunting task of restoring the film to its original pristine condition, the Walt Disney Studios Restoration Team turned to the U.S. Library of Congress, who store the original 70-year-old nitrate camera negative in their film vaults, and for reference, to an original 1941 release print held by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). Using this rare nitrate "dye-transfer" Technicolor print for color reference, the team was able to restore Dumbo to the color settings most likely approved by Walt Disney himself. The 1.33:1 1080p AVC picture is exquisite in absolute color rendering, with brilliantly vivid and rich hues that pop off the screen. Blacks are absolutely beautiful, along with wonderful shades of rainbow colors to gaze upon. Contrast is terrific and perfectly balanced. Resolution is gorgeously detailed, with every nuance of cell-pained purity perfectly rendered. Artifacts are completely absent, for a wonderfully visually perfect animated work of art. Dumbo can now proudly join the mantle of other Disney restored classics such as Snow White, Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Bambi as another testament to the genius and artistry of Walt Disney and his team of incredible animators. (Gary Reber)

The rare film print (houses as part of the UCLA Film and Television Archives collection) proved to be the earliest surviving generation of the original audio for Dumbo, which provided a unique source from which to build the new Disney Enhanced Home Theatre (DEHT) mix for the Blu-ray® release. In addition, the re-purposed DTS-HD Master Audio™ 7.1-channel soundtrack Blu-ray release features a restored 320 kbps Original Mono track, which is sure to delight purists. Dialogue is clean and intelligible throughout, while retaining the tone and tenor of the various actors' voice work, though, with a slight harsh and strident character inherent in the original monaural elements, no doubt. As for effects, they are not pumped up, inflated, or treated in any way other than originally rendered. Thus, bass extension is not inflated and sounds as limited as originally rendered, even with the support of the .1 LFE channel. Surround envelopment is engaging but limited to a mirroring of the original monaural elements with rainstorm effects and orchestral instruments. The overall sound quality reflects the limitation of a 1940's soundtrack. Still, the overall presentation is wonderfully historic and perfectly engaging in terms of supporting the classic storytelling with terrific music and songs. (Gary Reber)