Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Snoopy's Reunion

Charles M. Schulz, the creator of the popular comic strip, Peanuts was simply put, a literary genius. I can think of few artists who had the impact of Schulz. The television specials of Charlie Brown, Lucy, Snoopy and the rest of the gang are legendary. From the Great Pumpkin to the Christmas Story, most of us have lived and grown up watching the enduring stories of Charlie Brown. Thankfully a long time favorite Snoopy’s Reunion, along with special features including Flashbeagle and a documentary of the original voices of Charlie Brown make a wonderful package in a newly mastered DVD. I was anxious to watch the DVD, and found myself enjoying not only these older stories, but especially the documentary of the original cast members’ reunion at Com Con.

The remastered version of this DVD is exceptional and while the older animation styles may not blow everyone away, the originality of story will keep each fan of Peanuts happy. One of the benefits of the extra features is the discovery of the techniques used by Schulz and legendary director Bill Melendez. The ability to find and direct children in the original roles was genius. Despite originally being told that the use of non actor children wouldn’t work, Melendez and Schulz understood the importance of portraying the innocence of children. It was in their portrayal of the innocence of children that we all discovered something about the truths evident in life, not just for children, but adults through the stories of Charlie Brown and his friends.

In the stories presented on the DVD we have an exploration of Snoopy. We find out about this self-centered, yet, loving little beagle, from his past to the importance of being himself. In many ways we see our own stories, our own struggles and that is a part of the beauty of the characters created by Schulz. We all try to be something we aren’t at times, and it is when we find ourselves that we find our ability to be effective.

Snoopy goes through the struggles of losing family, and yet through those struggles also finding out what is really important to him. He like many of us has to find himself and the struggle of finding oneself is one that can be a lifelong challenge. The simple conclusions that Snoopy, and the other characters come to are a part of the beauty of these stories. It is in trying to be like others that we often lose sight of who we really are. It isn’t in becoming like others that we find our meaning, it is in finding ourselves. It is amazing at what a little beagle, names Snoopy can teach us in those regards.

Charles Schulz was a deeply spiritual man, especially so in his earlier years. He approached faith from a realistic and often times humanistic perspective. He openly admitted using the themes of his faith in his characters and in his stories. Many of those simple themes of love of family, respect for authority, and others are addressed here as well as through the characters of Snoopy and his family.

I enjoyed this DVD. Surprisingly, my favorite part of the DVD wasn’t so much the stories but the documentary that explored the lives and attitudes of the original characters who portrayed the voices of Charlie Brown on the television shows. Getting to see the faces behind the characters was a rarity that I had personally not experienced. Don’t get me wrong, the background stories of Snoopy were entertaining and enjoyable, but my favorite part of Peanuts was always Charlie Brown. Snoopy was a character that I didn’t find as enjoyable due to his lack of humility. The background of how he came to be Charlie Brown’s dog was enjoyable and actually quite entertaining.

At regular purchase prices, this DVD may be a little disappointing for some unless they are a pure fan of the comic strip. It is short in duration and don’t really fit the criteria for me for ownership due to the lack of time and special features. Yet it would be a very worthwhile rental. If you have fans of the comic in your family, or if you want to teach the importance of family to your children, this could be a video worth owning. That value of family is an attribute well worth teaching to. This video could compliment this concept, and the simplicity of story used by Charles Schulz is well done. We don’t always need complicated story to teach important lessons. Schulz understood that, and I for one am grateful for his contribution.

The following is a video clip from the DVD, just click on the video, if the video don't appear, just click on the following link:

The following features the other feature on the DVD, Flashbeagle. A long-time fan favorite.

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