The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)
Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-The Story Behind The Masterpiece
Featurette-A Day For Eeyore
Music Video-The Winnie The Pooh Theme Song
Gallery-14 galleries, 66 pictures
Informational Subtitles-Pooh's Pop-Up Fun Facts
Karaoke-Heffalumps and Woozles
Game-The 100 Acre Wood Challenge
|Year Of Production||1977|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||
Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Richard M. Sherman
Robert B. Sherman
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Norwegian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Danish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
Norwegian for the Hearing Impaired
Danish for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Believe it or not, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh was the very title that started my migration from VHS to DVD. “What?”, I hear you say – “You migrated to DVD because of this title?”. Well not quite, the actual story is far more interesting. It was around the time when the first generation DVD players had just hit the market that I innocently rented a copy of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh on VHS for my young daughter to watch. Approximately thirty minutes after sitting down to watch it, she emerged from the lounge-room with a very disappointed look on her face as she announced that the video had suddenly “stopped when it wasn’t even finished yet”. Naturally I went to investigate and soon determined that the tape did indeed automatically stop and rewind mid-story shortly after a point of very poor tracking. Then came the fateful decision to just fast forward over whatever problem existed on the tape, a strategy that at first seemed to work fine as my daughter sat down to happily watch the rest of the video, but that we would later pay dearly for.
Unbeknownst to all of us, what actually happened at that moment was far more dire. You see there was something insidious on that tape, something so incredibly sticky and pervasive that after coating our video heads it would end up transferring itself to almost every single video tape in our personal collection over the next few months. Eventually this stuff was so ingrained into our collection that no amount of cleaning of tapes or video heads could get rid of this nightmare stuff; stuff that eventually ate away the oxide coating on the various tapes and rendered them unplayable. As it turns out, this is what had caused the original culprit to stop midway and rewind – the oxide layer had been stripped away leaving the clear backing which triggered the VCR’s optical end-of-tape recognition system to activate. Needless to say after many months of disappointment and frustration, we finally decided to retire VHS from our lives and committed whole heartedly to DVD, buying one of the, then just released, second generation players from which we have never looked back. As a footnote, we never did determine exactly what the substance was, although my wife suspects that some child may have tried to “feed some honey to Winnie the Pooh”.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is the Disney animated adaptation of British author A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh stories which had long been popular in Europe. It was originally produced as three separate featurettes. The first featurette, Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree, released in 1966, retells the first two chapters of A. A. Milne’s first of four Winnie the Pooh books — When We Were Very Young. In “Winnie the Pooh and some Honey Bees” we meet Winnie the Pooh (Sterling Holloway) and Christopher Robin (Timothy Turner), as Pooh devises a method to try and get at the honey in a beehive without the bees detecting him. When these attempts don’t quite go as planned, Pooh decides to adopt an easier strategy and simply eat someone else’s honey. In “Pooh goes Visiting and Gets into a Tight Place”, after feasting on all of Rabbit’s (Junius Matthew) honey, he gets stuck in Rabbit's front entrance hole. This is also the episode where Disney introduce their extra character, the Gopher (Howard Morris), to add a touch of Americana to the story for their domestic audience.
The second featurette, Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, released in 1968, retells several chapters from the first book When We Were Very Young, and some from the last book The House at Pooh Corner, which introduces the new character of Tigger. The various chapters include “In which Piglet is entirely surrounded by water” which sees Piglet (John Fiedler) flooded out of house and home, “In which Piglet Meets a Heffalump” where Pooh dreams of Heffalumps and Woozles, “In which Christopher Robin Gives a Party, and we say good-bye” where everyone has a special party for Pooh and Piglet, “In which Tigger comes to the Forest and has breakfast” where we meet Tigger (Paul Winchell) for the first time, “In which Piglet does a very grand thing” and “In which Eeyore finds the Wolery and Owl moves into it” where Eeyore (Ralph Wright) finds a new home for Owl (Hal Smith).
The third featurette, Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too, released in 1974, retells several chapters from last book The House at Pooh Corner with a focus on Tigger. These chapters include “In which it is shown that Tiggers don't climb trees” and “In which Tigger is unbounced” where Rabbit makes a deal to stop Tigger’s bouncing, thankfully only temporarily as an Eeyore-style depressed Tigger simply does not work. Of course it wouldn’t be complete without a mention of Kanga (Barbara Luddy), Roo (Dori Whitaker), and finally the narrator (Sebastian Cabot), who often add a nice degree of light comic relief to the stories.
In 1977, Disney skilfully reorganized some of the chapters and combined them for the feature length release of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, which included one additional chapter from the last book, “In which Christopher Robin and Pooh come to an enchanted place, and we leave them there” which sees Christopher Robin and Pooh saying good-bye. Although Disney’s adaptation deviates slightly from the original stories, the changes are reasonably minor and can easily be ignored, and the rest of the feature remains faithful to the original. The major deviation comes in the form of the additional character, Gopher, who was supposedly introduced for the American audience to add humour. Not being an American, I find it difficult to understand why Disney felt compelled to introduce the Gopher character. I’m guessing it’s because traditional British wit and dry humour is not as well accepted in the US where slapstick, in-your-face style of comedy is more familiar. Thankfully his appearance is infrequent and minor.
Disney Studios have put together a brilliant and creative feature that often blurs the boundaries between cinema and story telling. What is especially unique about this adaptation is the integration of the animated story with the concept of the real stories in book form. Quite often, the feature will seamlessly and naturally move from story to book and vice-versa in some of the most creative Disney storytelling you are ever likely to see. This title comes strongly recommended to any family with young children and serves as a wonderful introduction to the world of cinema.
There is one thing you have to keep in the back of your mind whilst you are watching this feature—that this feature is over 25 years old; and with that in mind, this transfer looks absolutely brilliant, even though it’s not quite as good as the restorations Disney performs on their Platinum titles.
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 fullscreen, it is not 16x9 enhanced. This is not the theatrical aspect ratio of 1.75:1, but it is the original aspect ratio, or open matte version, and is also the intended aspect ratio.
The image is very sharp, preserving all of the fine details present in many of the backgrounds, although there is a section of video footage during the introduction which is not quite as sharp, which is to be expected. I am very pleased with the black levels and the white levels, both of which are excellent. The shadow detail is also excellent. There is a reasonable amount of film grain present, but it is never enough to detract from the image, and there is no other video noise present at all.
This feature uses a varied palette that at times feels deliberately restrained to preserve some of the authenticity of the original sketches, but is quite capable of producing very bright, saturated colours when required. Many of the reds, blues and oranges look absolutely stunning. As far as I am concerned, the colours are exactly as they are meant to appear except for one, highly unusual circumstance, where I suspect the colour separations became misaligned at 14:15 during the scene change.
There are no significant MPEG compression artefacts, nor the usual film-to-video artefacts such as aliasing present in this feature; it is not often you get to say this as a reviewer.
However, there are plenty of source artefacts, although I suspect that some of them simply reflect the animation style employed at the time—that being sketchy drawings which leave some of the internal and external sketch lines intact (12:42 on Pooh for instance). What I’ll highlight here therefore, are the instances that I think are unintentional. There are numerous examples of the usual black, white and coloured film artefacts scattered through the presentation, most of which are relatively minor. Exceptions include the unusual burst at 49:27-49:30, where there is a scattering of all manner of film artefacts. There is also a distinct difference between the first half and latter half of the presentation, which is affected adversely by what appears to be poor animation cleanup, almost as if they were rushed to completion. Examples of this can clearly be seen at 46:50-47:30, 57:15, 57:24, 49:02-49-12, 55:58-56:15 where various outlines, shadows and colours are inappropriately visible.
I sampled a good twenty minutes each of the English and English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles and found both of them to be extremely precise. There is also a third English subtitle, or more accurately caption stream, present which implements the “pop-up fun facts” extra. This is a clever idea that other titles could/should make some use of, although it is admittedly of limited bandwidth.
Although dual layered, there is no layer change during the main presentation.
The audio track was very simple and concentrated all the dialogue in the centre speaker, leaving the main speakers free for some of the music. This is really all the material required or demanded.
I primarily listened to the Dolby Digital 5.1 English audio mix and found it to be quite appropriate to the material. The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times and the lip sync is as good as you come to expect from traditional animation.
Music is definitely something Disney understands well and this presentation is no exception. The music, written by Richard M. Sherman & Robert B. Sherman, and the score, arranged and conducted by Buddy Baker, really shines in this feature. The Sherman brothers were the team responsible for the music of Mary Poppins and The Jungle Book and would later go on to write the music for The Aristocats, too. Unlike other animated features that have come and gone, the music in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is not only catchy, but is designed to carry the story forward, as opposed to simply interrupting the story. This works extremely well, especially with young children, as it captures and holds their attention, without boring them to death with extended dialogue. Also clever is Buddy Baker’s use of certain instruments to represent each of the characters, for instance: Eeyore—Bass Clarinet, Kanga—Flute, Roo—Piccolo, Rabbit—Clarinet, Piglet—Oboe, Owl—Ocarina & French Horn, Pooh—Baritone Horn and I’m guessing for the others: Tigger—Mouth Organ, Gopher—Harmonica and Christopher Robin—Trumpet and Guitar.
A couple of times I thought I would check on the status of the surrounds whilst playing this 5.1 mix, and surprisingly there was some information there, mostly ambience, but it is recorded at such a low level that it is almost inaudible. A Dolby Encoded 2.0 mix would have been sufficient for this feature.
This was another title that saw the subwoofer sitting idle; mind you, many young kids would be quite surprised if it were to stir into life during this feature, so I think it is best quiet.
|Surround Channel Use|
The main menu is easy to navigate, nicely animated and supported by background music. The transitions to the sub menus are also animated even though the submenus themselves are entirely static.
Duration 25:04. This is an in-breadth ‘making-of’ special that documents much of the history behind the original stories of “Winnie the Pooh” by A. A. Milne and their adaptation to a Disney animated feature. Although nothing is covered in any particular depth, the breadth of coverage is extensive, ranging from the original stories and illustrations to the voices, music and animation. By the end you will have learnt where the name “Winnie the Pooh” came from, why the character Gopher was introduced and who the various faces are behind the voices (watch for the voice behind Tigger). This featurette exhibits poor detail, a soft image, plenty of Gibbs Effect, MPEG blocking (7:50 with colour bleeding), film artefacts (1:00-1:10 for example) and aliasing (2:07, 2:15, 20:23 for example). The colours are pretty poor, the frames are interlaced, there is some mild chroma noise throughout, the black and white levels are off and finally the audio is dull – all, in all, a typical video source.
Duration 24:22. This is an extra story featurette about Eeyore’s birthday that was originally shown for the television release of the Winnie the Pooh – featurettes. It begins with the same introduction, panning around Christopher Robin's room before entering the story. Not only does the animation have a different feel about it but the voices and in particular the narrator are not the same as the original stories. So although this is decent enough effort, it just doesn’t fit back-to-back with the main feature, so I would save this one for another day. The video is similar in quality to the previous featurette showing some MPEG blocking in the background, along with posterisation effects, for example at 1:21, 1:28. There are also some examples of aliasing at 4:43, 8:28 and the light levels are somewhat variable (16:00 - Pooh for example).
Duration 2:35. Fairly average music video of the “Winnie the Pooh” theme song performed by Carly Simon presented in a fairly average video format. Why US studios, and Disney in particular, feel the incessant need to take every popular song they can from their features and repackage them by getting a current in-the-spotlight singer to perform an upbeat version, I do not know. This is yet another example of such repackaging – as always, the original sounds better.
14 Galleries containing 66 Pictures. The user can chose to browse the galleries at their own pace, or take a guided tour through the galleries complete with commentary. The galleries themselves contain a sampling of very good quality pictures detailing material from early concept sketches, original Ernest Shepard drawings, various animation backgrounds, finished frames, character development sheets, production photos, draft sketches, water colour storyboards, photos of the animators at work, promotional materials, posters, location shots and some publicity shots (including some Pooh for President, 1972 photos).
Duration 9:17. Alternatively the user can take the guided video tour through the galleries and images. The images selected and then panned and scanned for effect, to keep things moving on the screen. The intermittent commentary does provide some interesting background behind a few of the images and collections, which can be useful. This is designed more for children to keep them interested in something that normally would only be of interest to older fans; more children’s features should have gallery tours like this.
Enables a set of captions that then pop-up during playback of the main feature with tidbits of information and trivia related to the segment currently playing. These range from mildly interesting to mildly amusing and are taken from almost everywhere imaginable (I am sure some of them are bound to surprise). This is almost the opposite of a commentary track, instead of an audio commentary it is a caption commentary, providing information and discussion items at appropriate points in the presentation. This is a very interesting concept that could be used on other films where either space is a premium or an audio commentary cannot be secured; albeit with limited information bandwidth.
26 page story. This is a simple, read along story about how Pooh lost his shadow one day.
Duration 2:36. This is a very amusing and fun sing-along song. Being a video copy of a poorly sourced film master, it contains the usual video artefacts (soft image, interlaced frames, noise) and various film artefacts (lots of flecks and scratches), but the audio is not that bad.
This is an interesting collection of games that are designed to stimulate memory and visio-spatial skills in young children. Each correct answer progresses the game and the aim is to complete all three games which can be selected via each of the following characters:
Pooh: Memory. Help Pooh get to the honey at the top of the tree by answering the various questions about the feature correctly. (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) Solution: Honey, Wheelbarrow, Raincloud, Bottle.
Tigger: Visio-Spatial. Tigger is hiding, can you find him by following the instructions? (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) Solution: Left, Center, Right. Kanga, Eeyore, Piglet.
Rabbit: Cognition and Memory. Can you identify the items which are not quite right? (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) Solution: Frog & Eeyore’s Tail, Grub & Pooh’s Picture, Letterbox & Clock.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Apart from the inclusion of some additional preview trailers on the R1 version, the two releases appear identical, so I would give the local, PAL product the thumbs-up.
This is a charming addition to any young family's DVD collection, and is a welcome change from the more common fairytale story genre. This is especially suitable for very young children and uniquely highlights the connection between real story books and animated video entertainment.
The video quality is exceptionally good for something of this age and is a pleasure to watch.
The audio quality is not 5.1 channels but is perfect for the material and target audience.
The extras are quite reasonable and targeted at the same audience as the main feature.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-S733A, using Component output|
|Display||JVC Interiart Flat 68cm Display 16:9. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.|
|Speakers||Front LR - NEAR MainMast, Center - NEAR 20M, Surround LR - NEAR Spinnaker DiPoles, Rear LR - NEAR MainMast-II, Subwoofer - NEAR PS-2 DiPole|