Digitally Restored Peter Pan on Blu-ray Soars to New Heights
Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Silly analogy not-withstanding, once again, Disney has done the animation community proud by digitally restoring and releasing one of its all-time classics on Blu-ray. Almost twenty years in the making, Peter Pan was originally scheduled as Walt Disney’s second animated feature. Work began in the late 1930s, but the effort was shelved with the start of World War II. Picked up again in 1947, the film finally was released in 1953. In celebration of the film’s 60th anniversary, Disney has just released this animated classic bundled with a great selection of featurettes and some deleted scenes and songs.
For animation officionados, the compilation of bonus materials includes numerous goodies, such as audio commentary by the late Roy E. Disney along with Leonard Maltin, as well as commentary by key artists who worked on the film, including Ollie Johnston, Frank Thomas and Marc Davis, three of Disney’s legendary Nine Old Men. Listening to these giants talk about the work, hearing their behind-the-scene stories, adds a richness, a layer of subtext to the film and additional visual materials that makes for a rich, engaging experience.
The DVD is packed with old storyboard sequences and concept art, depicting early versions of the film’s development. Walt and his team struggled initially to adapt the original story to the medium of feature animation, an effort given greater context through the inclusion of deleted scenes and songs, recreated and presented with narration coupled with various storyboard sequences. In fact, one of the deleted scenes details an alternate version of how Wendy and company get to Never Land in the first place. Such intimate details of the process provide insight into how much work, over many years, went into these films.
A Making-Of featurette includes rare watercolors and visual development sketches by master concept artist David Hall, dating back to the late 1930s. There’s a featurette on the history of the character Tinkerbell dating back to J. M. Barrie’s original 1904 play. As you can imagine, the production quality of each featurette is excellent, though a bit contrived at times. It would have been nice if a bit more background was provided on why these scenes and songs were never used and how those story decisions were made within the context of the final film that was released.
One of the most interesting bonus featurettes is the documentary Growing Up With the Nine Old Men, a short film by Frank Thomas’ son Ted, who both interviews and reminisces alongside the grown children of many of the legendary animator. It presents a fascinating look into their lives growing up with such talented and “famous” dads. Highlights include a look at Ward Kimball’s hobbies, first restoring horseless carriages, then restoring full steam locomotives, as well as how Johnny Lounsberry, who wanted more of a country life away from the city, moved his family “all the way out to Chatsworth.”
The DVD also includes the song “Never Land,” lost, never used song lyrics put to new music by Richard Sherman and sung by Paige O’Hara.
On my 60 inch HDTV, this newly restored film looked incredible, truly vibrant. A must for any animation collection.
Some of the key details of the release are provided below:
Release Date: February 5, 2013
3-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack - (BD, DVD, Digital Copy & Storybook App) = $44.99 U.S. / 51.99
2-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack - (BD & DVD) = $39.99 U.S. / $46.99 Canada
Digital & On-Demand - please check with your television provider or favorite digital retailer for pricing
- Disney Intermission (new)
- Growing up with Nine Old Men (new)
- Disney View (new)
- Introduction by Diane Disney Miller (new)
- Deleted Songs & Scenes
- You Can Fly: The Making of Peter Pan
- Tinker Bell: A Fairy’s Tale
- Disney Song Selections
- Audio Commentary Hosted by Roy Disney
- Music Videos & More!
Rating: G (bonus material not rated)
Feature Run Time: 77 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Blu-ray: 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (English); 5.1 Dolby Digital (French and Spanish)
Languages: English, French and Spanish
Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish
To learn more and keep informed on this release: