Lady And The Tramp Diamond Edition
First of all, YES, it is in its original aspect ratio, 2:55:1, just like Sleeping Beauty was. Second this film is a must own for Disney or Animation fans, so if that's the case you can stop reading and buy this (or more likely you already have).
So the main reason I'm reviewing this item is I actually found something funny about the release and I had to point it out. You put the disc in the player, the nostalgia inducing Disney intro plays and the trailers begin. Then they say "stay tuned for EXCITING previews...", I don't think the next words should be "...including Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3", lol. Films like Cinderella, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Aristocats and The Rescuers all coming to blu-ray and they want to lead off with BHC? Okay, lol, other than that this is an experience the child in anyone will thoroughly enjoy.
Story: This is a great story, it's very simple but so well done. The characters are well crafted, the story progresses naturally and it's a story that hadn't been told from this point of view before, and I argue has never been told as well in this way since. It holds up amazingly even after 57 years, the period setting of an idyllic town in the early 20th century helps give it that ageless fairytale feeling that most Disney classics maintain. This is one of Disney's animated classics that you fondly remember but you appreciate it all the more when you finally rewatch it. Given a well timed release right before Valentines Day, this is a sweet romance that is suitable for the entire family and told from the unique perspective of two dogs.
Picture: It doesn't get better. Like Bambi I find this remaster to be spectacular, I don't see how anyone could complain. Nary a spot of grain (I personally didn't spot any in in my first of what will be many viewings) and not a single blemish otherwise. The colors are true to the original but as vibrant and pure as one imagines they've ever been. It's like watching the hand painted cells move before your eyes and nothing seems to have been negatively tampered with at all. This HD transfer makes Lady and the Tramp look as if it could've been animated yesterday, the only tip off is that they don't put this much care into hand drawn animation anymore. The backgrounds are gorgeously done and the characters are realistic but stylistically animated, the human characters being purposefully the most simplistic. This film has the style of the other 50's era Disney films, it is kindred to Cinderella but the dogs are so realistically captured that they remind me of the animal designs in Bambi.
Audio: The audio is just as good as the animation with a 7.1 DTS-HD track. This isn't a film that is full of sound but all the sounds that are present are clear and distinguished, I couldn't ask for more.
Special Features: Is it me or in general has Disney not been putting as much new content on their Diamond Editions as they did on their Platinums? Perhaps I've just been spoiled but it may also be in part as they've released the films so many times by now. I will say I am very happy with the new supplements provided for this particular release. Here fans will be happy not just with the High Definition but with Disney's attempt at providing new and interesting extras that clearly took some time.
Audio Commentary: Inside Walt's Story Meetings - The best extra by far, these have been included on many recent Disney films both Diamond and not. It is informative and clearly took some time. Not only have they assigned recurring actors to play the same parts but here they have found pieces of discussion that apply directly to what you are viewing on the screen, simply amazing. These are great for those interested in film, listening to these conversations you really get a sense of Walt Disney, his team and their story crafting genius and animation know-how. They discuss every detail and always have some interesting angle for approaching each scene. They really considered the audience the entire time they created these amazing classics and by the time they made Lady and the Tramp you can see they really know what they're doing. They also make reference to several other films (Bambi, Sleeping Beauty) and discuss the state of the business briefly.
Deleted Scenes: There are three new deleted scenes. As I think people know by now most of the scenes are abandoned storyboards turned into animatics and not actual animation. There is a narrator and voice actors playing the characters. I enjoy these, here viewers get twenty minutes worth of new material (though I probably won't watch them very often).
Introduction of Boris - A long abandoned scene about two early concept neighbor dogs, Homer and Boris, who would vie for Lady's affection. This is neat to see but I'm glad they decided to go the Trusty and Jacques route, they are much better characters. (10mins Approx)
Waiting for Baby - The shortest scene finds Lady with Jim Dear awaiting the arrival of the baby. Jim Dear is seen wanting a baby boy and imagining all the things that will come. Another interesting scene but you can see how they moved pieces around and ultimately did without it. (2mins Approx)
Dog Show - Finds Lady and Tramp sneaking into a stage performance of dancing poodles where they accidentally cause havoc before making a run for it. This is mostly just bit gags. (8mins Approx)
Never Recorded Song: "I'm free as the breeze" - storyboards are again shot as a sort of animatic that plays as the song is heard. It is actually a great song that would have fit the tone of the film but was dropped only because they decided not to make Tramp a singing character. I'm glad to have heard it.
Diane Disney Miller: Remembering Dad - A featurette (just under 8 minutes) that finds Disney's daughter recollecting on her father, primarily an apartment he had above the fire station in Disneyland. This basically serves as a tour of that apartment as items she discusses are shown in detail as you hear her describe them and relate them to her father.
Introduction by Diane Disney-Miller - Disney's daughter gives a plug for the Disney museum in San Fransisco and tells why Lady and the Tramp was a special film for her father, runs just over a minute in length.
**Note: I have not yet used the Disney Second Screen on this item but have on past releases. I'm sure, just as on previous releases, it has copious amounts of behind the scenes drawings, animatics, storyboards, designs, etc., all of which can be accessed from your computer while watching the film (there's also games but I've never played them). On that note, I did miss on this release that they didn't incorporate any of that content directly into the Walt's Story Meeting feature on the disc, as they did on Bambi for example. I'll update the review when I get a chance to actually look through the feature.
Classic DVD Bonus Features: Carried over from the Platinum Edition are - Lady's Pedigree, a 52 minute long documentary on Lady and the Tramp. Finding Lady - a 13 minute long featurette about making a great storyboard. Original 1943 storyboard version of the film. The Siamese Cat Song, a 2 minute featurette. A Belle Notte music video, Theatrical Trailers and 2 more deleted scenes.
So ultimately this film, which was a financial success but originally overlooked by most critics, has become a classic. It is probably one of the most referenced love stories in film if only because of the simplistic genius of a shared plate of spaghetti on a first date, but it deserves much more credit than that. This is a Disney classic everyone should own and every child should watch.