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Yesterday, I received a copy of the new R1 USA Special Edition DVD of Disney’s The Aristocats via DVD Pacific. Unfortunately, I’m sorry to have to report that this is yet another “cropped to 1.75:1” atrocity:

The Aristocats

DVD

I’m sorry, but would someone like to explain to me why this is being done? I don’t care that this was how they would have been projected theatrically (the chances of finding a cinema equipped to display 1.33:1 material in 1970, when this film was released, would be small in the extreme) - anyone can take one look at the image above and instantly tell that something is not right about the framing. It was nice to see this trend reversed for 101 Dalmatians, but that doesn’t change the issue of several other titles having been bungled and continuing to be bungled.

This release, incidentally, seems to have been done on the cheap. For a so-called Special Edition, you really don’t get much that’s all that special, barring a pointless Virtual Kitten game, a brief piece on the Sherman brothers, some image galleries and a deleted song. Additionally, a sure sign of a rush job, the film’s original mono mix is no included, instead porting over the 5.1 remix from the older European release (the previous US disc featured a 2.0 surround remix). On the plus side, the image hasn’t been subjected to the same level of excessive grain reduction that has resulted in most Disney re-releases since Alice in Wonderland looking as if they were shot digitally, but at the same time the compression is pretty damning.

I know The Aristocats is far from a shining example of what Walt Disney Feature Animation was capable of (it and Robin Hood are, in my opinion, the studio’s weakest animated features this side of Pocahontas), but that’s no excuse for a second-rate DVD release.

 
Posted: Thursday, April 17, 2008 at 3:34 PM | Comments: 3
Categories: Animation | Cinema | DVD

 
Comments

1.

Surely this should be presented at 1.66, not 1.75 or 1.33? I thought most post-1960 or so Disney pictures were intended for screening at 1.66. (At least, this is what a Disney nut once told me.) Is it not a 1.66 movie that has been matted to 1.75 in order to satiate the grumbles of consumers with contemporary widescreen televisions who hate to see any less than one hundred per cent of their screen filled with the film image? ('I've paid several hundred pounds for my widescreen television, and I want to see the entire screen filled with pretty pictures, dagnabbit!')

Posted by: , April 22, 2008 10:40 PM

2.

I'm curious too as to why Disney would have still been framing for 1.33:1 for several decades when no outlet existed for displaying as such, apart from TV. I'm sure Mr. Whiggles has explained before why Disney did this (a quirk of their animation methodology?), but I don't recall.

Posted by: anephric, April 23, 2008 3:05 AM

3.

It’s a baffling situation, and there doesn’t seem to be any explanation for the animators’ choices. All I know is that the 1.33:1 presentations look the most “right”, for whatever reason.

The 1.75:1 ratio puzzled me too initially, but it is apparently a valid theatrical ratio, and in any event IMDB (not automatically the most reliable source, I know, but…) listed it as the theatrical ratio for the various films in question years before the films were being presented that way. In any event, Disney have favoured 1.66:1 presentations for DVDs of their CAPS-based (i.e. The Rescuers Down Under onwards) films for ages, and are supposedly planning to release The Sword in the Stone in that ratio, so I don’t think they’ve suddenly become afraid of that ratio.

Posted by: Whiggles, April 23, 2008 11:32 AM

Comments on this entry and all entries up to and including June 30th 2009 have been closed. The discussion continues on the new Land of Whimsy blog:

https://www.landofwhimsy.com

 

 
 
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