101 Dalmatians (Diamond Edition) Blu-ray Review
Over the past decade or so, Disney has been releasing a lot of their classic films from their vault in special Diamond Editions. Being a huge Disney fan from a young age, this has obviously excited me to see a lot of these old movies getting a special treatment and I’ve been anxious to re-watch them. However, as I’ve been going back through them as an adult, I’ve found themes or scenarios in the films that are a little shocking and even disturbing in some instances which have tarnished some of my childhood memories. Maybe I’m being a little too critical, but now that I’m a parent I have to think about some of these things and formulate a plan on how to explain what’s going on on the screen to my youngsters.
In 101 DALMATIANS we follow Pongo and Perdita, two adult Dalmatians and their “human pets” Roger and Anita, as they fall in love and have a litter of puppies (the Dalmatians, not the humans). Unfortunately, an evil woman named Cruella De Vil has her eye on the new puppies for her new fur coats, and she’ll stop at nothing in order to procure the spotted pups.
The first thing that I found disturbing was the fact that the film centers on a lady who wants to kill and skin a bunch of puppies for fur coats. I remembered that plot point, but it was a little disturbing to watch her two henchman casually talking about “clubbing them over the head” while the other was preparing to skin them for their fur. As a kid I took this in stride, but it’s really a disturbing concept even for 1961 when the film was released. How do you explain to a kid that these two creepy guys broke into a house, assaulted the maid/nanny, stole the litter of puppies and are now going to kill them for some jackets? Somehow the word disturbing doesn’t quite describe the situation well enough.
Other than the main plot of the film, 101 DALMATIANS is actually a somewhat decent movie. The animation was pretty incredible for its time, the one song in the film “Cruella De Vil” is fairly catchy, and who didn’t want a house full of puppies after watching this movie when they were a kid? Though now as an adult I do wonder how Roger and Anita managed to sleep when not scooping doggie poop or vacuuming all the dog hair up.
101 DALMATIANS is one of those Disney films I’m glad to have in my collection, but after watching it again I’m not sure how often it will ever get pulled out for a viewing. The animated puppies are still adorable over 50 years later, but it’s a little hard to swallow knowing that half of the humans that are in the film are wanting to kill the poor dears in cold blood. On the upside, I can now lay in bed wondering what kind of message the dogs are trying to convey to each other when they are barking at night and it won’t make me quite as annoyed with the howling going on outside my window.
Video: A beautiful transfer to Blu-ray considering the age.
Audio: Nice audio throughout the film, with good balances between score and dialogue.
The Further Adventures of Thunderbolt (1:46): A little more of the cartoon Thunderbolt the puppies are watching during the movie.
Lucky dogs (9:08): A short featurette featuring some of the Disney animators taking about their time working at the studio.
Dalmatians 101 (5:20): Cameron Royce (a Disney Channel star) talks about the film.
Walt Disney Presents “The Best Doggoned Dog in the World”: (51:05): An entire episode from the 1961 series featuring famous dogs from around the globe as well as promoting 101 DALMATIANS.
Redefining the Line: The Making of 101 Dalmatians (33:55): A typical making of feature broken up into seven parts, which includes interviews from animators today as well as archived footage from animators from the 60s.
Cruella De Vil: Drawn to Be Bad (7:10): an short bit with animator Marc Davis about this character as well as some photos of the real life inspiration Mary Wickes.
Sincerely Yours, Walt Disney (12:48): A featurette about the correspondence between Walt Disney and author Dodie Smith during the making of the film.
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