Winnie the Pooh-The Book of Pooh: Stories from the Heart (2001)

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Released 5-May-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Childrens Menu Animation & Audio
Game-Connect-The-Dots
Game-Coloring Pages
Game-Pooh's Puzzles
Biographies-Character
Featurette-When Pooh Was Very Young
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 76:20
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (49:41) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Dean Gordon
Mitchell Kriegman
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Jim Cummings
John Fiedler
Ken Sansom
Peter Cullen
Andre Stojka
Stephanie D'Abruzzo
Paul Tiesler
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $24.95 Music Julian Harris


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Dutch Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Dutch
French Titling
Dutch Titling
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis


"An all-new full-length adventure"

    There are probably no more endearing and loved characters in the pantheon of children's literature than A.A. Milne and E.H. Shepard's Winnie the Pooh. From the 1920s when Milne and Shepard created Pooh, the character has continued to evolve and change with the times. From the simple yet loveable drawings of Milne to the traditional animation of Disney to this new incarnation, Pooh has always been available to the children of each generation in a form that is accessible and entertaining while maintaining the overall character and message of the original stories. The key to the longevity of Pooh is that it encapsulates the very things that describe childhood: exploration, adventure, wonder, learning and friendship. These are the things that we all take into later life from childhood and hopefully continue to build upon, and while action is acceptable, it is too easy to just make films where robots hurl bombs at each other and conflict is constant. Probably not the best introduction to life for the little ones. They'll learn far too early that conflict is much more a part of everyday life, so this program is a nice respite from the violence so prevalent in much of today's children's programming.

    This incarnation of the world of Pooh is a bit different from what we've seen in the past. While animated, this series (as seen on the Disney Channel) uses a mix of computer 2D / 3D animation and the ancient Japanese puppet technique of Bunraku, where the people controlling the puppets are usually in direct view of the audience. Usually, the puppet controllers are draped in black and sometimes work against a black backdrop, but here the puppeteers are in green and working against a green screen. This leads to the effect that the puppeteers are invisible and replaced by the computer generated backgrounds leaving only the movement of the puppets themselves. This is an interesting technique that works so well that I've seen several people mistake this program for being completely computer generated. The dead give-away that this isn't completely CG is the fluidity of the motions of the various characters; they move about the scenes quite convincingly. Again, it's the charm of the characters and stories that lead the viewer to forget the various techniques used in producing the program content and get on with enjoying the content itself. There are 6 separate tales here, one each about the main inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Wood. These tales are read by the narrator from a book of stories about our favourite characters.

    When the gang from the Hundred Acre Wood can't find their friend Christopher Robin, they look for his journal to see what he might be doing at the time. While they fail to find the journal, they do come across a book with stories about themselves and soon begin to recount some of Christopher's favourite tales about the group.
 

1. "Over The Hill" Written by Mitchell Kriegman and Andy Yerkes
Directed by Mitchell Kriegman

    Pooh Bear has a hunger for adventure. While it's honey that he usually craves, Pooh wants to do some exploring and decides to go on the adventure of a lifetime. Packing his swag and heading off over the hill, he becomes disoriented while chasing a butterfly and then proceeds to head down the hill. The thing is, he hasn't headed over the hill, but instead has gone down the same side again and ended back at the Hundred Acre Wood. Because he doesn't know he's gone the wrong way, Pooh thinks he's come across a new group of characters that bear a striking resemblance to his friends back home. This episode shows how you can discover people you already know again, and see them in a new light.
 

2. "Tigger's Replacement" Written by Jymn Magon
Directed by Dean Gordon

    Tigger has heard the call of the wild. Every so often, the rambunctious tiger feels the need to head into the deep forest, run with the pack, howl at the moon, and whatever else he can think of. The only problem is, if he goes then there will be no Tigger on duty to look after the residents of the Hundred Acre Wood. While giving a strolling Piglet a good day pounce, he comes up with a brilliant idea: deputize Piglet as an honorary Tigger to keep an eye on things while he is away. At first apprehensive about the task, Piglet soon begins to carry out his task well, so well in fact that Tigger overhears a remark that with Piglet on the scene Tigger won't be missed. Taking this to heart, Tigger announces that he will be leaving the Hundred Acre Wood as he isn't needed anymore. But when Rabbit finds himself in a predicament at the top of a tree, only the real Tigger can save him. The moral of the story: everyone is an individual, each with their own unique talents.

3. "Kessie Wises Up" Written by Mitchell Kriegman
Directed by Claudia Silver

    Kessie wants to know everything. Sometimes, when you're young you feel that everyone around you (especially the grown-ups) have all the answers while the littler ones are left scratching their heads. After a trip to see Owl, the most learned resident in the Hundred Acre Wood, Kessie is told that knowledge will just come to her. Anxious to meet this new knowledge head on, Kessie heads to her favourite perch to wait for the knowledge to come. When it doesn't come all at once, Kessie is left more frustrated and confused than ever. But during a walk with her friends, Kessie learns that just a little knowledge goes a long way.

4. "Greenhorn with a Green Thumb": Written by Jymn Magon
Directed by Dean Gordon

    Everyone knows that Rabbit hates to be disturbed during his gardening. So when an poorly timed pounce from Tigger sends Rabbit's seeds flying everywhere, Rabbit is in a bit of a huff. As Tigger had only the best intentions to Rabbit, he looks for a way to get back on Ol' Floppy Ears' good side again. Someone suggests that taking an interest in Rabbit's favourite pastime of gardening might be a way for the two to become friends again. As first suspicious, Rabbit is soon teaching Tigger to be a first-rate gardener. But when the harvest eventually comes, Tigger's garden is twice as good as Rabbit's and the question is whether Rabbit can stand to be upstaged by Tigger at his own game. Sharing, friendship and tolerance are the lessons here.

5. "Night of the Walking Tigger" Written by Mark Zaslove
Directed by Dean Gordon

    Tigger has decided to give up sleep. Convinced that he's missing out on all the other gang's fun and adventurous nocturnal activities, Tigger is determined to never miss out again. With fun and excitement in mind, Tigger goes from house to house in the Hundred Acre Wood to get in on all the great things that surely must be happening. There is, of course, nothing happening at each house except sleep and as the impossible-to-convince Tigger wakes up all his friends, they are at a loss as to how they'll convince him that there is nothing going on at night. As the group struggles to convince Tigger that all they are doing is sleeping and that he should do the same, it's a lullaby from Tigger's childhood that just might do the trick. The lesson: day time is play time and night time is for sleeping.

6. "Eeyore's Tailiversary" Written by Claudia Silver
Directed by Dean Gordon

    Eeyore is anxiously awaiting his favourite celebration, his 'Tailiversary', the day when he got his tail. The other residents of the Hundred Acre Wood haven't forgotten either, but they have decided to throw Eeyore a surprise party and so they have to pretend to be doing other things while they prepare for the party. This is made increasingly hard as Eeyore makes surprise appearances while they are preparing for the party and they have to become more and more inventive with their explanations as to what they're doing. This works and Eeyore is convinced that his friends have forgotten his favourite day, which makes the surprise party all the more surprising and shows the value of true friendship.

    This is a great series from Disney that I have had the pleasure of watching over and over (and over and over thanks to my son) and it still entertains. A great program that any parent can put on for their little ones safe in the knowledge that it will be appropriate, educational, and most importantly, entertaining.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The quality of the image here is very good in terms of clarity, but it does suffer from some predictable and well documented flaws.

    This series was produced to be shown on The Disney Channel as part of Playhouse Disney. The original aspect ratio is 1.33:1 (full frame) and therefore there is no 16x9 enhancement.

    The image is very clean and clear with no focus or associated flaws evident. Shadow detail seems to be okay, but as almost everything is in so well lit, there are few dark scenes during the program. The only point would be during Night of the Walking Tigger, but shadow detail was fairly good during that episode. I had no problems with low level noise.

    Colour use with this program is quite pronounced and exaggerated. This means a very active and colourful scheme. This does, however, work quite well for the subject matter and will grab the eye of the littlies straight away. Colour's commitment to the disc is very good with a bright and well defined image available at all times. This DVD doesn't suffer from the horrible and distracting chroma noise that we get on the VHS version of this program.

    MPEG artefacts are not a problem here, but as is the case with the other titles released in this series (see GeoffG's and RodW's reviews of the other titles in the series), aliasing is everywhere here. I remember watching this on VHS when I first bought it thinking "What'll this look like on DVD?"  The answer; okay but it shimmers all over the place. I found this fairly distracting, but if you can get over it, as I'm sure the little ones will be able, then the rest of the image is pretty good. This pronounced aliasing seems to be inherent in the production methods and not a transfer flaw. Edge enhancement doesn't seem to be a resident of the Hundred Acre Wood and this annoying flaw is notably absent during the program.

    We have three subtitle options here, these being English, French and Dutch. The English titles are quite good and though not word for word, they are very close and portray the character's dialogue quite well.

    This disc is formatted RSDL with the layer change at 49:41, just at the beginning of Chapter 5. I've watched this disc a dozen times, but it was only when watching it for this review that I picked the change which is well placed and not distracting at all.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio transfer is good and completely suits the material.

    There are three language options here, these being Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes in English, French and Dutch. I listened to the English and sampled the other two (I really wanted to hear Pooh in the other languages. Not bad.).

    The quality of the dialogue is very good with each of the character's speech clearly audible and understandable at all times. As well as can be achieved, the sync of the voices for these animated puppets match quite well their mouth movements and the end result is very convincing.

    Music for this series comes from scoring newcomer Julian Harris. Julian's only other credit as of now is the score for a segment in the film Boys Life 2, so this is a complete change in subject matter. That said, Julian's score for this program is perfect and suits very well the subject matter. Each different segment has its own original song and these are fun, catchy and the kids will love them.

    The sound mix on this disc is full 5.1, but I get the impression that this is a derived discrete mix and that this was originally recorded in normal 2.0 as I get the same sound using Pro Logic II and dts Neo:6 on the old VHS version as I do here. A good mix, but the surrounds play a completely atmospheric role and most of the sound is from the front main and centre channels.

    The subwoofer has little to do with this title and the only times we here any LFE activity is during some of the musical passages.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    This is the only title in this series that features any extras. These aren't earth shattering, but they do add a little value to an already good program.

Menu

    After the Language Select menu, we are taken to the distributor's logos and then the Main Menu. This offers us:     The menus are all full frame (no 16x9) and feature audio from the program soundtrack.

    Selecting the Bonus Material icon brings us the following options:


Connect the Dots

    Using the DVD remote arrow and enter keys, you highlight the various dots in numerical sequence to reveal a hidden picture. An easy game for the littlest ones that is fun for a couple of times, but as there are only 3 images to go through this doesn't have huge replay value. Still, better than nothing.

Coloring Pages

    This time you use the remote keys to select colours (numerically coded) to match with the numbers on a character to colour it in. Another simple game that gives you three images to colour in.

Pooh's Puzzles

    Quite similar in play style to the first two games. This time, you use the remote keys to select a puzzle piece that matches the highlighted puzzle space. There are (again) three puzzles to solve and the player is rewarded with song from the characters shown in the puzzle.

Character Biographies

    Each of these can be selected individually and in doing so you are treated to a short (about 60 seconds) narrated biography of each of the residents of the Hundred Acre Wood.

When Pooh Was Very Young - Featurette   -   10:15

    This is an interesting and far too short history on the character of Pooh Bear, from his beginnings in the 1920s to his later animated incarnations right up to this series. We have some images of the original Pooh bear who's original name was Edward Bear. This was changed when young Christopher Robin (yes, the real Christopher) went to the zoo and saw a bear named Winnie. Edward become Winnie and the rest is history. There is also a brief description of the techniques used to produce this current series that, while describing the bunraku puppetry method, never shows it being done. A nice touch that won't spoil the illusion the the little ones, but I would have loved to have seen this type of animation being made. Presented full frame with audio in Dolby Digital 2.0.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This title was released in Region 1 in July 2001 and is almost identical to the version we have here. The only differences are the availability of Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes for French and Dutch and the English, French and Dutch subtitles. The Region 1 disc features only an English 5.1 mix and has no subtitle options. These small differences, along with a PAL transfer and local affordability and availability would give Region 4 the win, but by a small margin.

Summary

    This is a charming program that makes new again the continually endearing characters who have inhabited the Hundred Acre Wood for decades. My little one loves this show, and for the younger audience this is a good choice to make.

    The video is okay, but the constant aliasing might annoy some.

    The audio is good with clear and understandable dialogue and an atmospheric sound mix.

    There are some simple extras here, along with an interesting (but too short) featurette on the history of Winnie the Pooh.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Sean Bradford (There is no bio.)
Wednesday, September 03, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD RP-82 with DVD-Audio on board, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko TRW 325 / 32 SFT 10 76cm (32") 16x9. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderYamaha RX-V2300 Dolby Digital and dts.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V2300 110w X 6 connected via optical cable and shielded RCA (gold plated) connects for DVD-Audio
SpeakersVAF DC-X Fronts (bi-wired), VAF DC-6 Center, VAF DC-2 Rears, VAF LFE-07 Dub (Dual Amp. 80w x 2)

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