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101 Dalmations (1961) - Blu-ray Review [UK - Region Free]

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101 Dalmations - Blu-ray Review

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4 stars

One Hundred and One Dalmations is a film that marks a distinct change in Disney’s visual style, and the way they accomplished it. Their previous film, Sleeping Beauty, had tanked at the box office and drawn into question the business sense of continuing Disney’s animation studio. He had live action films and his theme park to generate income, but animation was where it all started and he very much wanted it to continue.

Ub Iwerks became the man to help Disney continue his first love. He had been experimenting with the revolutionary (at the time) technology—the Xerox process—and figured out a way of transferring the animators pencil sketches directly onto animation cels, eliminating the need and cost of hundreds of inkers replicating the animation frame by frame. This reduced the studio’s staff to a fifth of its former numbers and change the way their films would look from then on.

In previous films, inkers would clean up animators’ drawings, but Xerox copied them exactly, giving the animation a rougher appearance. Also, due to the limits of the Xeroxing technology at the time, colours lines could not be used. As a result One Hundred and One Dalmations, and the films that followed it, had a fidelity to the original animator’s work that had never been seen before, but there was a less refined appearance to the characters and all black outlines. The backgrounds—another cost cutting measure to which Disney wasn’t all that enthused—took on a more abstract appearance, and this led to a falling out between Disney and art director Ken Anderson.

Based on the 1957 novel by Dodie Smith, One Hundred and One Dalmations tells the story of Pongo and Perdita, a pair of Dalmations that get their respective owners together. Living a life of suburban bliss, the dog’s life is upended when their owner, Anita, has a visit from her witch of a boss, Cruella De Ville. Noticing that Perdita is pregnant, Cruella wants to buy the puppies when they arrive. When Anita refuses, Cruella plots to steal the puppies and make a spotted coat out of them. It is left to Pongo and Perdita to rescue the puppies and get them safely back home.

Another first for this film was that it had one screenwriter, Bill Peet, who delivered a true contemporary (for the time) story, remiss of the trappings of previous Disney adventures. It was fast paced, well crafted, with one of the best Disney villains ever created. It was punchy, funny, and had a real sense of peril that engaged children the world over. There were far less songs involved, ironic considering the main character is a songwriter. This was a fresh new approach from the Disney Studios and it played like gangbusters. Even the author came out and said that not only was she pleased with the final product, but she thought they’d improved upon her book.

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101 Dalmations - Blu-ray ReviewMPAA Rating: G.
Runtime:
79 mins.
Director
: Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske
Writer: Bill Peet
Cast:
Rod Taylor; J. Pat O'Malley; Betty Lou Gerson; Martha Wentworth; Ben Wright; Cate Bauer
Genre: Family | Animated | Comedy
Tagline:
One great big ONEderful motion picture
Memorable Movie Quote: "The humans have tried everything. Now it's up to us dogs, and the twilight bark."
Distributor:
Buena Vista Distribution Company
Official Site:
disneydvd.disney.go.com/101-dalmatians-platinum-edition.html
Release Date: January 25, 1961
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
September 3, 2012

Synopsis: When a litter of dalmatian puppies are abducted by the minions of Cruella De Vil, the parents must find them before she uses them for a diabolical fashion statement.

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101 Dalmations - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
4 stars

4 stars



Blu-ray Experience
4 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - September 3, 2012 (UK)
Screen Formats: 1.33:1
Subtitles
: English, Arabic, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: Region-Free

Fantastic 1080p MPEG-4 AVC transfer in the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio (full screen); the colours are more vibrant than I have ever seen, the detailing in the line work, seeing Disney’s new Xeroxing process, is a fascinating thing to experience in High Def; there’s a solid clean up with barely a speckle or flicker present; a new DTS-HD 5.1 mix that won’t make your rears sweat by any means, but nevertheless approximates the original mix in a more modern and immersive way, especially when it comes to the sound effects of the hilarious vehicles.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

  • Backstage Disney: Behind the Scene
  • "Dog-umentary"
  • Music & More: Try Again; You're the One

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