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by Kirby C. Holt
Platinum Edition Disney DVD
Filled with endearing characters, a suspenseful storyline, infectious music, ground-breaking animation and quite possibly the best toon villain ever created, 101 Dalmatians has been a critically acclaimed crowd-pleaser ever since its release nearly fifty years ago. And it finally gets the DVD release it deserves with a new two-disc Platinum Edition, now available.
Highlights of the canine classic (which won the Best Animated Film award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in 1962) include the first-rate character animation (it was as if the new Xerography process invigorated the animator’s creativity) and such iconic imagery as the wedding scene (wherein Pongo and Perdita mimic their “pets” nuptials through a church window) and the entrance of that singularly unique creation (courtesy of legendary animator Marc Davis and voice actress Betty Lou Gerson), Cruella de Vil.
Featuring an all-new digital restoration with enhanced picture and sound that makes every spot pop and every “bow” wow, this set includes a collection of bonus features almost as numerous as the title characters. But first things first: so as not to appear to condone smoking, Disney has tacked on a disclaimer at the start up of disc one decrying the “evils” of Cruella’s tobacco habit; ironically, the heroes’ owner Roger seems to smoke his pipe at least as much (if not more) then his more famous co-star does her pink, green smoke-spewing cigarettes.
In place of an audio commentary, the film can be viewed with two optional “101 Pop-Up Trivia Facts”. The “family” version features a lot of details about the differences between author Dodie Smith’s source material and the final film (such as the book’s married Cruella and two extra adult Dalmatians). The option for “fans” includes a bounty of info for Disney geeks (who need no explanation of what a “Hidden Mickey” is), with emphasis on the voice actors (some of whom pulled double duty in various roles), directing animators and Disney film trivia, such as where to spot the Lady and the Tramp cameos. That factoid is also noted in the “family” version, as there is some redundancy between the two. Regardless, the film is inherently re-watchable, so this does give you the opportunity for different viewing experiences.