Review: Disney’s Dumbo 70th Anniversary Blu-ray

Dumbo 70th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray/DVD ComboSTUDIO: Walt Disney Studios | DIRECTORS: Various | CAST: Sterling Holloway, Herman Bing, James Baskett, Edward Brophy, Cliff Edwards
RELEASE DATE: 9/20/2011 | PRICE: DVD $29.99, Blu-ray $39.99
BONUSES: featurettes, deleted scenes, short films, games
SPECS: G | 64 min. | Animated family | 1.33:1 aspect ratio | 7.1 DTS-HD audio | English, French, Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

DumboDumbo is one of the greatest classic animated films, and Walt Disney Studios has celebrated the movie’s 70th anniversary with a fantastic release.

Restored for its high-definition debut, Dumbo has never looked as good as it does on this Blu-ray version. The colors are bright and nicely saturated, the reds of the circus, the yellows of the fire, the blues of the sky. The lines are sharp, but not too sharp. This isn’t a glossy new digitally animated Pixar feature. Dumbo was created with water colors, and the original grain is still there, giving the film its lovely classic character.

And the sound is stunning too. The Oscar-winning score, the beautiful Oscar-nominated “Baby Mine” and the delightful crows singing “When An Elephant Flies,” all are as clear and gorgeous as the picture that they accompany.

Like its other Blu-ray releases of classic animated movies, Disney included a special features package that has something for every age in the family, but it will be most enjoyed by fans of Disney history.

The history of Dumbo is delved into in the featurette “Taking Flight: The Making of Dumbo” as well as the “Cine-Explore” feature, which plays during the movie. Both pieces are well developed and packed with interesting information — although there is some overlap. We learn that Dumbo was based on a children’s book, the only story written by Helen Aberson and Harold Pearl and a book that’s unfortunately no longer available. We also learn that Dumbo was released at just the right time for Walt Disney Studios, after Pinocchio and Fantasia didn’t perform at the box office and right before World War II caused economic problems. Plus, the pieces go into the animators, the story tellers, the techniques and more that made this film so great.

The Blu-ray includes one deleted scene and one deleted song that haven’t been on earlier versions. The deleted scene is not fully animated, but we see storyboards of Timothy Q. Mouse’s explanation of why elephants are scared of mice. And Timothy Q. Mouse is the star of the deleted song too, singing “Are You a Man or a Mouse?”

The only other new extra is the featurette “The Magic of Dumbo: A Ride of Passage” about the Dumbo ride at Disneyland.

The disc also offers plenty of other special features that have been on earlier DVD versions of Dumbo, including a TV introduction to the film by Walt Disney himself, an excerpt of a classic TV program about recording sounds for animated movies and two animated short films: “Elmer Elephant” and “The Flying Mouse.”

Rounding out the disc are two games for the youngest viewers: “What Do You See?” and “What Do You Know?” Each is playable in single-player mode or family mode. The easiest of the two is “What Do You See?,” which shows scrambled pictures of characters and you have to identify the character in the given amount of time. The second game is trivia, and some of the questions are harder than you might think, like, guessing the average age of African elephants in the wild. So kids will be able to learn while they play.

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About Sam

Disc Dish founder and editor Samantha Clark is the former managing editor/online editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.