Winter Wonderland (2003)
Menu Animation & Audio
|Year Of Production||2003|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||
Harry D. Arends
Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Full-length holiday movie? Well, that is what the packaging says. Quite how forty seven minutes, including two animated shorts, translates into a full length holiday movie I have not got the slightest clue. Frankly the packaging borders on breaching the false advertising regulations...
What this forty seven minute package comprises is a 31 minute collection of Winter/Christmas related snippets from a variety of Disney animated films as follows:
This segment then segues straight into one of the classic releases in the Silly Symphonies series, The Grasshopper And The Ants that hails all the way from 1934. This lasts about 8 minutes before segueing into one of Mickey Mouse's cartoons Lend A Paw dating from 1941, that also lasts for about 8 minutes.
The main stuff is a rather variable collection, with the various segments connected by some imagery of a model village that frankly looks pretty woeful, as it seems to be mostly out of focus. The immediate impression is that the package is virtually an extended advertisement for a selection of newly-released and shortly to-be-released DVDs. Out of context of the films from which they are drawn, they lose a lot of the impact and meaning, with only the excerpt from Bambi really retaining anything like the enjoyment level that it should.
It is always a pleasure to see anything from the famed Silly Symphonies series, which was basically the learning process of the Disney studios in preparation for the animated features starting with Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs. Unless you are fortunate to own one of the increasingly difficult to find Region 1 tin sets of the full series, you may not have seen The Grasshopper And The Ants before. It is one of the later efforts in the series featuring a grasshopper without a care in the world about anything more than enjoying himself. Making a mockery of the summer toil of the ants, he fails to heed the words of the ant queen, so when winter approaches he finds himself literally out in the cold. If the basic story sounds familiar, well, it is an Aesop fable.
Lend A Paw is something a bit special in some ways - it won the 1942 Oscar for Best Short Subject, Cartoons. The actual short is not that terrific but certainly with the obligatory healthy dose of saccharine. Pluto is out and about in the snow when he rescues a noisy bag, which turns out (much to his chagrin) a little kitten. Said kitten follows Pluto home and soon ingratiates itself with Mickey Mouse, further annoying Pluto who seeks a way to rid himself of the pest - with the aid of his devilish conscience.
While the opening of the entire programme is not exactly wonderful, the two "tag ons" certainly lift the overall package considerably. Nonetheless, at forty seven minutes, it is hardly a full-length holiday movie and overall the presentation lacks coherence. Some may find this a decent package, but for me it was 31 minutes of boredom before getting to the main event - the two animated shorts. Overall, this is an average effort at best.
Given that the source material dates from 1934 through to 1997, you can bet that there is a large variation in the quality of the transfer. That certainly does not aid the overall package much. The transfer is presented in a full frame format that is not 16x9 enhanced.
One of the problems of the wide variation in age and quality of the source material is trying to give a concise approach to advising on the quality of the transfer. I fear I will fail miserably. Still, let's have a bash. Sharpness is a little on the soft side in general, although The Grasshopper And The Ants is much the poorer in this regard, while the rest are of a generally similar nature. One of the problems with The Grasshopper And The Ants is that on a couple of occasions the resolution goes very much AWOL - take a look at 38:36 and 39:16 for what I mean. It is almost like three separate cels have been misaligned and are creating image shift. Grain is not much of an issue other than in the segment from Bambi. Indeed, on the evidence here, there might be a fair deal of restoration work necessary on the film prior to any DVD release. Shadow detail is generally adequate enough, but there is a deal of film dirt floating around to impinge upon the clarity of the transfer.
The colours are similarly a reflection of the age of the source material, with The Grasshopper And The Ants naturally exhibiting an underdone nature to the tones - quite palish at times - the slightly later Lend A Paw is vastly better in both quality and saturation. Generally the earlier stuff is a little underdone whilst the more recent stuff is very good. There is nothing in the way of over-saturation, but colour bleed is something of an issue in The Grasshopper And The Ants.
There do not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer, although the imagery of the model village is often quite blurry and indistinct (out of focus being the best description) indicating some source problems. There do not appear to be any significant film-to-video artefacts, other than some very mild aliasing in the segment from The Sword And The Stone around 24:08. There was a veritable plethora of film artefacts, with the earlier stuff being very afflicted obviously and the later stuff being very clean in comparison.
This is a single layer, single sided DVD so there is no layer change to worry about.
There are a few subtitle options on the DVD. The English and English for the Hearing Impaired efforts seemed to be pretty fair overall, with very little missed.
There are four soundtracks on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, a French Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, a German Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack and a Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. I listened to the English soundtrack.
The dialogue comes up fairly well and is generally easy enough to understand, but is a reflection of the source material which is at times rather ropey. There is of course the inherent problem of animation sync.
The music comes from Andrew Belling for the new stuff, with the excerpts having a variety of different sources. Leigh Harline was responsible for the music in The Grasshopper And The Ants. None of the music is that great, but it serves the purpose of the shorts and excerpts they are associated with.
The sound is generally quite adequate, although the earlier stuff does have something in the way of congestion and background hiss. None of this was entirely unexpected, and obviously is part of the penalty we have to pay for watching classic material of nearly seventy years of age.
|Surround Channel Use|
There is certainly not a whole heap on offer here, but that, I suppose, is not entirely unexpected for programming of this nature.
Decent enough, although completely out of character with the bulk of the programme. Perversely, the menus are widescreen and 16x9 enhanced, to go with some reasonable audio and animation enhancement.
You might need some good co-ordination and a very responsive remote to be able to get through this chase successfully. Basically you are chasing Huey, Dewie and Louie down a snow covered hill while they are bombarding you with snowballs. The aim is to avoid the snowballs... hence the need for good co-ordination and a responsive remote, for failure to avoid the snowballs ensures a return to the top of the hill and starting all over again.
The stockings are hung and the parcels are delivered. The only problem is that there are no labels on the parcels and you have to sort the parcels into the correct stocking guided only by the wrapping. Rather easy to deal with but an added bonus is that each present comes from a different country and you can get a brief rundown on the Christmas tradition in that country.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
At the current time, I cannot locate any indication that this DVD is available in any other region, at least under this title.
Another made-for-video effort that really is a bit of a mish-mash with really little purpose or point. Still, Winter Wonderland does have some value in the classic animated shorts and at the price is worthwhile investigating. Still, you will have to endure a rather variable quality presentation where the older material may not be the worst looking...
|DVD||Denon DVD-1600, using RGB output|
|Display||Loewe Aconda 9381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|