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Kevin Krock, editor
DVD Review
Peter Pan - Special Edition
(1953) | Approx. 76 Minutes | Rated G | Reviewed by Kevin Krock
Cover Art
Click to Buy
Ratings Summary
(Scored out of a maximum of five)
Audio Video
Goodies Interface
Value
ADVANCED HOME THEATER - Nice soundtrack remix

The Movie

For the sake of brevity, I will not belabor the story of Peter Pan. It is suffice to say that it is a classic story that has been adapted for several media over the decades, and just about everyone should be familiar with the basic premise. At its core, it is a wonderful adventure story that reminds us that while our bodies may grow old, our inner self need not follow. Never Land is only as far away as we choose to make it.

The Goodies

This release of Peter Pan is being called a “special edition,” which appears to fall somewhere between a standard release and a collector’s edition. Provided on a single disc, you get a pretty good selection of goodies, but you should not expect the same level as Snow White, for example. I am not sure if this was done to leave room for an eventual collector’s edition or if this was simply all they could put together.

I found three items of particular interest on the disc. The first is a newly produced documentary called “You Can Fly.” This documentary runs for approximately 16 minutes and covers most of the movie’s production aspects, but I found it a bit shorter than I would have liked.

Promotional art © Disney
Promotional art © Disney

The second item is the 1952 featurette called “The Peter Pan Story,” which is a 12-minute promotional featurette that is interesting to watch. You may notice that some of the footage was reused in the new documentary, but it still nicely complements the new documentary.

Finally and best of all, the full-length commentary is quite a treat. Roy Disney hosts a wide range of guest commentators: Walt Disney, Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, Marc Davis, Ward Kimball, Leonard Maltin, John Canemaker Jeff Kurtti, Margaret Kerry, and Kathryn Beaumont. Obviously, some of the comments were taken from archival recordings, but many of them have been cleverly edited to match the related scenes. The wide variety of people involved provides a nice overall picture of how the film was developed and produced.

The other goodies, like the set-top game, storybook, sing-along and still gallery are not terribly different from similar features on other Disney DVDs.

The Video, Audio and Interface

The video and audio have both been digitally restored and remastered, and they look and sound great for a 50-year-old film. The grain- reduced video is generally clean and detailed, and the colors are saturated and well-balanced throughout the movie. The audio is clean and should play nicely on any home theater system.

Finally, the user interface is simple in its presentation, but it works well. All of the menu screens are accompanied by music from the movie, and many of them are animated to some degree.

The Advanced Home Theater

If you have the previous gold embossed 45th Anniversary CAV LaserDisc of Peter Pan, hold on to it, as there are special features included with it NOT on the new DVD release, including storyboards accompanied by acetate recordings. You also miss out on concept art, character design and storybook art sections, plus live action reference materials. Granted, much of this material is utilized in the new documentary, but it wouldn't have hurt to include the already available materials from the LD on the new DVD.

What appears to be the same almost grainless transfer as the previous "Limited Edition" DVD release is supplemented here in this version with a brand new Dolby Digital 5.1 remix. They've done a lovely job with the soundtrack - spreading the music around the listening area, and keeping the voices planted in the center channel, with some of the effects gently moving around the room.

Although there are widerscreen and louder reference quality Disney DVDs to show off your home theater system with, very few of them have the charm, expert animation and sheer quality of this classic release. It's especially a great deal when you consider it can be found in many retail outlets for well under $20.

- Al Lutz

The Final Evaluation

Overall, this DVD release makes a great replacement for those old VHS and DVD copies (the DVD was originally released as a Limited Edition version toward the end of 1999). The remastered video and audio will provide a pleasing experience on just about any home theater system. The interface is simple and well-themed, and the variety of goodies adds to the value of this disc.

Even though it is not a full-blown collector’s edition, there is enough on this disc to warrant a strong consideration for adding it to your library.

New & Upcoming Releases
Promotional art © Disney

DVD FEATURES

Goodies

  • “You Can Fly” – The making of Peter Pan (approximately 16 minutes)
  • "The Peter Pan Story" – 1952 featurette
  • Audio commentary hosted by Roy Disney featuring Walt Disney, Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, Mark Davis, Leonard Maltin, and more
  • Still gallery
  • “Following the Leader” Sing-along
  • “Peter’s Playful Prank” - DVD Storybook
  • DVD set-top game
  • DVD-ROM web links

Technical Specifications

  • Region 1 Encoded
  • Single-sided, dual-layer
  • Digitally restored and remastered with grain reduction
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Spanish and French language soundtracks
  • English subtitles
  • Original theatrical full screen aspect ratio - 1.33:1
  • THX Certified
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