Saludos Amigos (1942)
|Category||Animation||Featurette-South Of The Border With Disney (31:56)|
|Year Of Production||1942|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||
Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.37:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
It seems like manna from heaven in many ways, the first five animated feature films from Walt Disney and his talented bunch of employees: Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo and Bambi. But contrary to impressions that have certainly been reinforced in the past thirty years, these five classic films were not exactly a financial boon. Indeed, overall they barely broke even upon initial release, despite plenty of critical acclaim. Of course by the time Bambi was released, the Second World War was well and truly underway and the United States had just been drawn into the conflict. With resources needed for the war effort and the lack of substantial profit from the five genuine animated features, the Disney studio embarked on a goodwill tour of South America. Aside from promotional activities, the purpose of the trip was to allow artists the chance to seek inspiration for future films from the sights and sounds they were to experience.
The result of the trip down through South America was Saludos Amigos, which has the rank of the sixth animated feature from Walt Disney. That has always been a bit of a bone of contention, for this really fails to qualify as a feature since the running time barely scrapes over the forty minute mark. Sure it is way too long for an animated short, but even by the usual sixty to eighty minute run time for Disney animated features, this is way short of that benchmark.
The film itself is a mixture of live action and animation, with the film opening with live action film of the Disney party heading off south of the border. The animated segments comprise: Lake Titicaca, based around that famous lake with a visitor known to the world as Donald Duck along to do the usual touristy stuff; Pedro which tells the story of a young airplane who has to deputise for his father on the dangerous flight over the Andes to collect the mail; El Gaucho Goofy which basically takes the anything-but-quintessential American cowboy out of the Wild West and sticks him onto the Argentine Pampas; and Aquarela do Brasil, which introduces Jose Carioca who takes Donald Duck around Rio de Janeiro to the beat of the samba.
Certainly the lack of production values is fairly evident throughout the whole feature, but if you approach it with no great expectations then perhaps there is more to enjoy here. However, it certainly is not a patch on the five classic animated features that preceded it and ultimately that is what sinks the film.
The transfer is presented in a 1.33:1 Full Frame format that is fairly obviously not 16x9 enhanced.
The transfer is an obvious reflection of the age of the source material, which is now running past sixty years old and counting. Sharpness is decent enough all things considered, although some of the live action material is bordering on below average. The animated content is much better and those familiar with unrestored early animated features will find this at least equal to that standard or better. Definition is very good in general, although there is some grain floating around that does impede the detail just a little on occasions. Shadow detail is very good in the live action stuff. Clarity is better than average, and certainly slightly better than I was expecting.
The colours are better than I was expecting too. The live action footage, despite its age, has some fairly decent colour - vastly better than some of the newsreel stuff I have seen from the era. The colours are very well saturated in the live action footage, and the animation is certainly decent in this area although not quite as good as the restored images we have seen. The overall look is reasonably vibrant. Oversaturation is not an issue, and colour bleed is noticeably absent from the transfer.
Aside from some inherent source material issues, there are no MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There are no obvious film-to-video artefacts in the transfer. Obviously with a film of this age, you tend to expect film artefacts but they are surprisingly less than what I was expecting and the whole transfer looks better than it has any right to.
This is a single sided, single layered DVD so there is no layer change to be negotiated.
There are two subtitle options on the DVD, being English and English For The Hearing Impaired. They are both good with nothing in the way of any significant omissions or variations to the dialogue. The only issue I have is that they do not translate the foreign dialogue in the Aquarela do Brasil segment.
There is just the one soundtrack on the DVD, and horrors upon horrors it is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. I was very unhappy when I saw the specifications for the DVD, immediately bemoaning the fact that the original mono soundtrack was not available on the disc - even though there would seem to be plenty of space available for this as only 2.78GB of space out of the 4.7GB available is used.
If there is any good news from the six channel soundtrack, it is the fact that it is not exactly very six channel sounding at all.
The dialogue comes up reasonably well in the transfer, although certainly not as well as I would have hoped. You will still have no problems understanding what is being said. Since this does involve animation, sync is of course an inherent issue.
The original music score was contributed by Ed Plumb and Paul Smith. I cannot honestly say that there was a fat lot about the music that truly made an impression on me, but that would be in line with the general production values of this film. Not cheap and nasty but certainly not involving any extravagant cost that would have heightened the production values.
The first thing you notice about the soundtrack is the fact that despite the six channels, it sounds a lot more like a mono soundtrack than a surround encoded soundtrack. There is basically nothing emanating from the rear surround channels, whilst the front soundscape really does sound like a mono soundtrack coming straight out of the centre channel, with little (and probably closer to nothing) in the way of obvious surround encoding in the front channels. The sound is not exactly crisp, with a little congestion here and there along with some background blemishes. The latter are not really that bothersome, but some will certainly note them.
|Surround Channel Use|
Not a whole heap of stuff here, which is a little disappointing.
Bright and colourful, which itself is rather out of step with the actual film.
This takes the same sort of material that makes up the live action segments of the main feature and expands upon it. The only problem is that the material in the main feature is almost pristine, digital direct quality in comparison to the near-appalling quality displayed by the material in this featurette. The interest level is pretty decent but this is rapidly diminished by the poor quality of the source material here: poor contrast, lack of colour, plenty of film artefacts, poor detail and definition. You name it and this probably displays it. What really is noticeable is how much poorer the segments that also appear in the main feature are in this presentation, which is of course 1.33:1 Full Frame, not 16x9 enhanced and which comes with halfway decent Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.
The Region 1 release features what is presumably the original mono soundtrack and a few trailers, but it would seem that the Region 1 release has been edited by Disney to remove an instance of Goofy smoking. Such sensitive material obviously cannot be seen by the American youth of today. Accordingly, whilst that original soundtrack would normally tip the balance in favour of the Region 1 release, in this instance it does not.
This is an interesting enough comparison to not just the five classic animated features that preceded it but also with subsequent films. If you pay close attention to some of the sketches that were made during the trip, you might well recognise the origin of some of the characters and settings that appear in subsequent animated features. Thus for the fans of Disney animated features, this has enough to warrant investigation. Unfortunately, were I not so interested I would have a hard time suggesting Saludos Amigos as a worthwhile release to check out. Basically this is for completists like myself.
|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|