by Michael D
Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs is one of the jewels in Disney's crown. In fact, they consider it the jewel in their crown. Accordingly, considerable time and effort has gone into preparing this classic for release onto DVD in a simultaneous worldwide release, planned for 10th October 2001. We were invited to a screening of a sampler DVD which outlined many of the key features to be expected on this two disc set.
After the obligatory introductions and pleasantries, we settled down to watch the sampler DVD. Disney are heralding this as a release that "pushes DVD to the next level". Perhaps a tad over-enthusiastic, but there is no doubt that a lot of care and effort has gone into the creation of this DVD.
Extensive menu animation and audio is one of the hallmarks of this DVD, with the somewhat fearsome Magic Mirror acting as a guide to the DVD, explaining the various DVD options in order. Handy (but perhaps a tad scary) for the littlies.
The transfer itself has been created from a restored print. According to the reps at this screening, the source material was the original negative. Transfer to video was via a high definition telecine and amongst the processing done to the transfer was some substantial grain reduction. Whilst equipment limitations precluded any meaningful assessment of the transfer quality at this screening, it certainly looked the best I have ever seen Snow White look. Colours in particular were vibrant and solid, with none of the up-down variation common in material of this vintage.
The extras included are really extensive, and look like they have been very well-produced. By necessity, we were only able to sample a small subset of the available features, but what we did see looked rather good.
Audio Commentary by Walt Disney. This has been culled from multiple interview sources and condensed into a relatively coherent whole, judging by the small sample that we heard.
Disney Through The Decades. An extensive extra narrated by Angela Lansbury, including some fascinating World War II wartime propaganda animation and 8 decades worth of Snow White trailers.
Virtual Art Gallery, laid out with extensive 3D-style navigation and audio wrapping around 6 or 7 galleries with 100s of images, including split screen Storyboard Comparisons.
Audio-only radio broadcast of the premiere
Lots more extras which we did not have the time to look at, laid out either conventionally menu-wise or themed around the Snow White universe.
Something that really amused me was one of the promotional activities planned for this release. A number of shopping centers are apparently involved, with all 7 dwarves hidden throughout the shopping center for the kids to find. Guaranteed to be absolute chaos for all long-suffering parents.
Finally, I asked about release plans for a few other premium Disney titles. What was outlined to us was a strategy involving an annual October release of a jewel from the Disney vault, appropriately prepped befitting its status. October 2002 will see the release of Beauty And The Beast, October 2003 will probably see Aladdin released, and The Lion King the year after.
Demtschyna (read my bio)
25th September 2001