Monday, September 19, 2011

Dumbo on Blu-Ray, 70th Anniversary Special Edition

There are some movies that pass the test of time; Dumbo is one of those movies. Disney has just released this classic on Blu-Ray DVD and the question for most will be this, is it worth it? Let me tell you, as a fan of Disney, and especially as a fan of classic animation, this product is well worth it and we now have the opportunity to see Dumbo like never before.

There was the magic age of Disney where it seemed like everything they touched turned to gold, Dumbo is among that era, and the fact that Walt Disney himself had his hand involved in this is no coincidence. The fact that a film released in 1941 would still have appeal to a small child today, and at the same time, entertain their parents or grandparents is a testament to the reason Dumbo is a classic. This animated tale includes valuable lessons in everything from family, to friendship, and from bullying to obtaining dreams. There is more though and the reality that it is all included in only 64 minutes is outstanding. Some would consider Dumbo a part of Disney Gold, count me among them.

For those not familiar with the story, Dumbo is the new baby delivery to Mrs. Jumbo the elephant. He is delivered by the stork, and early on we see how much mothers love their children, whether a lion or a chimpanzee, parents from all walks of life love their children, (or at least they should.) Unfortunately Mrs. Jumbo doesn’t get her baby on time, he comes a little late. We see her go from sadness to joy, back to love and protector as she discovers that Dumbo has an apparent defect, he has giant ears. In a moment of Dumbo being bullied and her trying to protect him she is put into captivity and separated from her baby. This scene, some years later, still brings tears to most that see the love of Mrs. Jumbo for her son when they are separated. Fortunately, Dumbo is befriended by Timothy Q. Mouse who takes Dumbo under his wing, and in the process, helps Dumbo learn to accept himself.

I used the word ‘magic’ earlier, along with the word ‘outstanding.’ I don’t use either of those words lightly. What happens on screen, especially with the time frame given, is nothing short of either of these two words. We see an outstanding, magical story that has many life lessons for those watching. The 64 minutes of this presentation may be as close to 64 minutes of perfection ever put on screen. We see everything from plot development, incredible voice acting, brilliant animation, (not the CGI we are used to, but real animation) and life affirming, eternal messages that will last as long as movies exist. I have seen movies that have lasted for hours that were unable to come close to the character development we see here. I have seen entire series that have said less in their hours than Dumbo presents in its 1 hour. I have seen less entertaining films, that get boring and yet after numerous viewings I have never gotten bored with this story, yes, I use the words ‘magic’ and ‘outstanding’ with intent.

There are so many lessons that one could touch on with Dumbo, but one I have thought little of in the past is the importance of friendship and encouragement we see in the character of Timothy Q. Mouse, not just him though, but in other characters like the crows who encourage Dumbo to find a way to put his giant ears to good use. Those lessons of encouragement, of befriending the outcast, the one who is bullied is a message and theme just as important today as it was in 1941 when this movie was released. In a world where we see bullying and making fun of others played out so much, to know that a lesson of friendship can be learned, appreciated, and at the same time, entertain even for a 2 year old is refreshing. That refreshing concept is the concept I appreciated as I watched the movie with my 18-month-old granddaughter who was entertained throughout the film. I understood, those are lessons I will be able to revisit with her over and over again as she gets older, not just those messages though, but others that are presented in the film such as the love and appreciation of family. The spiritual lessons of how we are to love each other, to see the positive in each other, despite those things we consider faults in others is another life lesson of value. If we could learn to see the benefit and potential in others in the same way God sees those things in us we would be in such a better place. Of course real friends can help with that process. We can learn, whether the one needing encouragement, or the one giving encouragement, there is benefit to loving each other and treating each other like family. Dumbo and Timothy both learn those lessons and we learn along with them.

One of the things I normally like to comment on is the quality of the DVD and the special features. In those aspects, Disney, with Dumbo, delivers. While we have a small screen format as opposed to a widescreen presentation, the colors and sound are more vibrant and brilliant as ever. Disney has included some special features including artwork around the framing of the film to fill out the television screen. I also found myself enjoying as much as ever the abundant special features that Disney brings to this product. In the past Disney has mostly been a hit in the special features they present; sometimes there is a let down; that is not the case with Dumbo. While the navigation bars are not the easiest to navigate, there are numerous features that I have not seen before which make this DVD a definite must own for those owning Blu-ray players. I would go so far as to say this; the purchase of a DVD player would be worth it if buying it to watch this movie. One will quickly find out there are ample features on the Blu-ray DVD’s, (generally speaking) but when finding a blu-ray like this one, you realize, your purchase of the player, plus the extra cost for the DVD are well worth it because it isn’t often we get the opportunity to enjoy a magical, refreshing, outstanding film and product like this version of Disney’s Dumbo.

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