THE MANY ADVENTURES OF WINNIE THE POOH
Review by Michael Jacobson
Sterling Holloway, Paul Winchell, Sebastian Cabot June 19, 2007
Directors: John Lounsbery, Wolfgang Reitherman
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio: Walt Disney
Features: See Review
Length: 74 Minutes
June 19, 2007
always been a warm place in my heart for The Many Adventures of Winnie the
Pooh, despite its being a film that has gone into the shredder and back over
the years. Originally release in
1977 as a full length animated feature, it was actually the careful clever
pasting together of three shorter films, each released a decade earlier, with
new wraparound material and a fresh ending.
In the years since, this movie would once again be dissected into its
three main stories for video sales, then put back together again for re-release.
for its 30th anniversary, Walt Disney has offered a "Friendship Edition" disc
that puts the Pooh stories back in
feature-length form for DVD release, and for my money, it’s the best way to
watch them. The characters in them
are warm, winsome, and hopelessly endearing, bringing to life not only the
classic books by author A. A. Milne, but the fantastic and imaginative world of
childhood when your toys actually seemed alive to you.
on his own son and his stuffed animals, Milne created characters that would make
an indelible impact on children’s literature in the early 20th
century. Later, under the guidance
of Walt Disney, they would also become indelible characters in children’s
films as well. These were as well
defined and as instantly recognizable characters as any that would come out of
the Disney studios…partially because of keeping faithful to the spirit of the
original books, but largely because of the inspired voice casting.
two of the three greatest voice casting jobs ever to come out of Disney
animation came from the Winnie the Pooh films.
Sterling Holloway, as Pooh, offered a voice that was practically
indistinguishable from the bear himself, projecting a quality of innocence and
sweetness and a charming sense of being a little less than bright.
And Paul Winchell gave Disney their liveliest character ever in Tigger
with his manically energetic rendering…is it any wonder the bouncing striped
feline remains one of the most popular characters in the studio’s history?
(For those wondering, my pick for third greatest Disney voice casting job
is Phil Harris as Baloo in The Jungle Book.)
the casting went a long way in creating the characters, though, the stories went
a long way in making them memorable. From
“Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree”, where our beloved bear gets himself
into a sticky situation to the Oscar winning “Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery
Day” which introduced Tigger and had a great deal of fun with a whole lot of
wind to the finale “Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, Too!”, these are sweet tales
with a gentle moral lesson or two that each brings the characters to vivid life.
If Pooh was curious and innocent and Tigger was exuberant, who could ever
forget the gloomy Eeyore, the matronly Kanga and the cherubic Roo, the worrywart
Rabbit, the nervous but kind Piglet or the windbag Owl?
Not to mention Walt Disney’s own addition to the mix…the
whistle-toothed Gopher, who added a few big chuckles to the stories.
of these flow together in an imaginatively conceived world that never lets you
forget the tales’ literary source. The
characters exist in a book…we see the text and pictures come to life before
our eyes! “I almost bounced right
out of the book!” Tigger even exclaims at one point.
It’s a homage that’s both endearing and clever.
final goodbye scene is one of Disney’s most touching. It’s not over the top, nor does it wallow in emotion or
sadness, but it manages to convey the sweetly solemn message: childhood is fleeting, and a child’s relationship with his
toys won’t last forever, though it may live forever in the memory of an adult.
It’s a perfect moment that seems effortless, and one of the reasons
I’ve always found this movie to be so charming.
most of the charm comes from how modest this cartoon seems when compared to some
of the studio’s more lavishly produced entries…yet at the same time, how
much more indelible it seems by the same comparison! Walt Disney was a creator who was never afraid to push the
envelopes of technology, theatrics and art, but at the same time, never forgot
that it was the characters who made the story.
Though he didn’t live to see the completion of “Blustery Day”, many
still credit that wonderful, winsome, windy segment and its sweet tale of
selflessness as his true swan song.
couldn’t have asked for a more fitting memorial.
Hundred Acre Woods are looking pretty good these days, thanks to DVD.
This is the most colorful and vibrant presentation I can remember seeing
for this film (and I even owned the laser disc back in the day).
Tones and colors have held up well over the years and look better than
ever here. Some aging artifacts are
apparent…a slight flicker here, a streak there…but nothing too distracting.
Grain is minimal to none and images are generally well defined and crisp.
A good effort.
best aspect of the 5.1 remix is the music, featuring tunes by Robert and Richard
Sherman and a delightful score. Every
instrument in the orchestra sounds out with clarity and distinction.
Dynamic range is fairly good, particularly on the “Blustery Day”
sequence, which also makes subtle uses of the rear stage for extra ambience.
The .1 channel is used sparingly but effectively, again mostly for
accentuating the lower end of the music. Nicely
Quite a fun features package here, especially for the little ones. My favorite? “Pooh’s Pop Up Fun Facts”, a subtitle feature that gives you little fun bits of information and trivia questions at the bottom of the screen while you watch. There is also the original theme song as performed by Carly Simon in a nicely designed music video, an art gallery, a story called “Pooh’s Shadow”, a sing-along for “The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers”, the 100 Acre Woods Challenge Game (for the kids), a delightful making-of featurette, the modern classic short “A Day For Eeyore” plus "My Friends Tigger & Pooh".