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“Dumbo: Big Top Edition”
Wayne A. Klein
Studio: Walt Disney
Genre: Family
Special Features: Audio commentary by animation historian John Canemaker, “Disneypedia: My First Circus” game, DVD Storybook: Dumbo’s Big Discovery. Bonus shorts: Elmer Elpehant and The Flying Mouse; Sing Along Songs: Look Out for Mr. Stork and Casey Junior, “Baby Mine” performed by Jim Brickman and Kassie DePavia, “Celebrating Dumbo featurette with Roy Disney and Don Hahn, Walt Disney’s Original TV introduction, Dumbo Art Gallery

“Dumbo” touches on what every child feels about themselves at one point—the flying elephant is mute and has huge floppy ears. All children feel self conscious about how they look or are made fun of by classmates at some point so “Dumbo” provides a perfect allegory for children about their value regardless of what perceived flaws they may have. “Dumbo” is one of Disney’s shortest feature films (it clocks in at 64 minutes and some change) but it’s also one of Disney’s most direct and powerful with a hook that everyone can relate to. While it isn’t Disney’s best animated film it still stands tall and proud in the catalog despite the passage of time, change in taste and social changes we’ve faced since the film premiered in 1941.

Image & Sound: A beautiful transfer “Dumbo” looks outstanding in this presentation. The film is in its original full screen aspect ratio (widescreen didn’t take hold until the early 50’s). Opening with a really cool 3D landscape as part of the main menu the colors are bright and lively. The audio presented in its 5.1 incarnation sounds fine with nice depth and clarity. We also get French and Spanish language tracks.

Special Features:

Featuring many of the bonus features of the previous edition this single disc “Big Top Edition”. John Canemaker’s intelligent and perceptive commentary track from the 2001 edition can only be accessed via “Backstage Disney”. “Celebrating Dumbo”, “Walt Disney TV Introduction” and the “Dumbo Art Gallery” are all imported over from the previous edition of the DVD. “Celebrating Dumbo” discusses the origin of the story and its development at the studio. The TV introduction is the original presentation for the premiere of the film on “The Wonderful World of Disney” featuring Walt himself.

The “Dumbo Art Gallery” is broken up into a number of sections starting with “Concept Art”, “Character Development”, “Pink Elephants”, “Story Development” , Roustabouts”, “Attractions” and “Behind the Scenes”. Most of the concept art is located under one of these titles. The exception to this are the last two sections “Attractions” and “Behind-the-Scenes”. “Attractions allows us to see the concept art and finished product for the rides at Disneyland and Disneyworld inspired by the film. “Behind-the-Scenes” features photos of the various musicians, artists and voice artists that contributed to the production of the film. We do get a one new special feature in the “Music and More” section.

“Baby Mine” music video by Jim Brickman and Kassie DePavia appears to be brand new to this edition and replaces Michael Crawford’s performance on the previous edition. We also get two sing along songs with “Look Out for Mr. Stork” and “Casey Jr.” both of which were available on the previous edition. Also missing is the “Sneak Peak” of “Dumbo II” ***

Under “Games & Activities” we get “Disneypedia: My First Circus” which quizzes kids on various circus animals. There’s also a DVD Storybook entitled “Dumbo’s Big Discovery”. You can either choose to read to yourself or have the story read to you. This section uses scenes from the movie to illustrated the story of Dumbo.

*** We also get two bonus shorts “Elmer Elephant” and “The Flying Mouse”. These vintage shorts tie in nicely with Dumbo although they might be a bit too slow paced for older kids. The images aren’t quite as steady during the opening credits for the shorts but these settle down once the cartoons start. ---

Final Words:

Not a big change between this edition and the previous one. Most of the changes have been cosmetic and, in fact, the transfer appears to be exactly the same perhaps spiffed up a bit for this reissue. The extras remain the same except for one or two minor differences. If you have the previous edition there’s no need to upgrade.


Copyright @ Teakwood Productions 2000
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