101 Dalmatians (1961)
|Year Of Production||1961|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (46:05)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||
Warner Home Video
Betty Lou Gerson
J Pat O'Malley
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Dutch Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Polish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Czech Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Hebrew Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Greek Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/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|
Providing a synopsis of 101 Dalmatians is almost a pointless exercise, as it surely has to rank as one of the most well-known of the Disney animated features. Indeed, it so well known and loved that Disney paid it the ultimate homage by using it as a basis for the live action version released in 1996, starring Glenn Close (and shortly to be joined by a sequel apparently, tentatively titled 102 Dalmatians). Still, on the off chance that some are unaware of the film, I suppose a short synopsis is in order. 101 Dalmatians is the story of a Dalmatian by the name of Pongo (vocalized by Rod Taylor) who goes in search of a mate for himself and his pet human, Roger Radcliff (Ben Wright). Success was near at hand and he meets and settles down with Perdita (Cate Bauer), whose pet human Anita (Lisa Davis) marries Roger. Like all good middle class marriages, children are soon on the way in the form of fifteen little Dalmatian puppies, but where there are puppies, trouble is bound to follow. In this case it comes in the form of Anita's friend Cruella De Vil (Betty Lou Gerson) who has a penchant for fur coats (common in what would now be considered the politically incorrect sixties). Cruella wants the fifteen puppies to make a fur coat, so when Roger and Anita nix the idea of selling her the puppies, Cruella hatches another plan. Enter one Jasper Badun (the wonderful J. Pat O'Malley) and Horace Badun (Fred Worlock), two bumbling crooks engaged to dognap the puppies. This they achieve and head off to the De Vil mansion in Suffolk to hide the puppies, along with 84 others bought by Cruella from pet shops. But things go a little awry when Pongo and Perdita, tired of the lack of success by the humans in finding their puppies, decide to use the dog gossip network, The Twilight Bark, to seek and locate their puppies. Naturally, they arrive in time to thwart the plans of Cruella by spiriting the puppies into the night for the long trek back to London, with the assistance of Sergeant Tibs (David Frankham) and The Colonel (J. Pat O'Malley).
This is a quite marvellously simple story, based upon the book by Dodie Smith, that in the usual Disney manner has been well transformed into an engaging enough 75 minute romp - one that has been amusing kids for near-on forty years, and probably will for another forty. What makes this film stand out for me, however, is that it is quite different to the usual Disney fare. The animation style is strikingly different to Lady And The Tramp and looks more like a water-coloured pencil drawing throughout rather than the traditional solid colour animation we normally see. The film is also less dependent upon musical content than most Disney films, although that does not stop it from including one of the great Disney songs in Cruella De Vil. But what really makes a difference is that even I can spot the goofs in this film! For a studio that prides itself on its technical expertise, these goofs are something of a nice surprise in many ways. Overall, I find returning to this film to be an enjoyable experience and have never yet tired of watching it.
The transfer is presented in a Full Frame format. It is not 16x9 enhanced.
Given the style of the animation, this is never going to be a glowing example of animation on DVD. The picture is quite flat and lacks a lot of depth, but this is a inherent result of the decision to use the animation style that was used. However, as far as the technical side of things is concerned, the film has been transferred well indeed and is as sharp and detailed as it has ever probably been. The transfer is generally quite clear, and this certainly does not display the problems of the earlier DVD in that regard. There do not appear to be any problems with low level noise in the transfer.
The colours are relatively muted throughout the transfer, other than during a number of scenes involving Cruella and the Badun gang. On these occasions, the colours really become quite bright and vibrant and tend almost to oversaturation. This style has again been deliberately chosen, since how more vibrant do you need to make black and white dogs than black and white? There is certainly a nice depth to these extremes, as is very necessary when you get to the sequence involving the greyer tone of the sooty puppies. There did not appear to be any colour bleed in the transfer, apart from minor problems in the opening credits with the red colour on the white background - always a problem area.
There were no apparent MPEG artefacts in the transfer. Film-to-video artefacts were pretty much absent from the transfer and the only real problem was a very slight wobble around the 10:30 mark, but that really was barely noticeable and hardly a distraction to the viewing experience. Film artefacts were hardly a problem either.
This is an RSDL format disc, with the layer change coming at 46:05. This is a well-handled change, coming during a black scene change and is not too noticeable and is not at all disruptive to the film. It continues to amaze me that RSDL formatting has been used for such a short film, but the extra space allowed for compression of the data has certainly meant that we have got the best possible transfer that we could reasonably expect for a forty year old film.
There are eight audio tracks on the DVD, all being Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded efforts: your choices are English, French, Italian, Hebrew, Czech, Polish, Dutch and Greek. I stuck with the English default. It should be noted that the surround encoding is barely there at all, and for all intents and purposes this is actually a straight-out stereo effort at best.
The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times.
The usual animation sync "problems" exist but nothing to worry about here.
The musical score comes from George Bruns, and as possibly already indicated, is quite an understated effort that really is quite different to the usual Disney fare. It certainly lacks any real distinction, although it must make quite a contribution to the film as it barely draws attention to itself.
There really is not an awful lot going on in the sound mix here and this really sounds at best a quite frontal, barely stereo effort. The surround channels hardly get a mention at all in the mix and you can certainly forget the subwoofer here. I would have expected the sound to have a bit more space to it, although I could hardly call it congested. The sound picture is quite frontal and is not the most enveloping soundtrack that you will ever hear. It does its job well enough and is free from any distortion, so I guess that there is not too much to complain about.
The Region 4 release misses out on:
A pretty good video transfer.
A reasonable audio transfer.
Forget the extras package.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-515, using S-Video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega (80cm). 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|