October 19, 2001

On The Wire

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Although our world is currently experiencing vast changes of unprecedented magnitude, there are timeless classics that bridge the gap between the unparalleled present and the ageless past. Accordingly, “back to the basics” is an appropriate description for the recent release of several new DVDs. Enduring with a time-honored popularity, The Godfather series has been digitally remastered on DVD to impart its distinguished Hollywood mastery upon a new technologically-minded generation. Enhanced with various unreleased scenes, The Godfather DVD Collection, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, should be added to the collection of every American “family.”

Nevertheless, if you ask the mirror on the wall, “who’s the fairest one of all?”, the Godfather may not definitively be the mirror’s response. Recently released and enhanced in all aspects, Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is, in my opinion, like an interactive trip to the world of Disney itself. Like a theme park and its offshoots, Disc One and Disc Two are integrated, with the second disc enhancing, for the most part, the previously-seen material on the first disc.

This two-disc DVD experience takes only minutes to become accustomed to, yet hours to fully peruse — hours led by your very own tour guide, the evil mirror. Her prompts sarcastically beckon the viewer onward, such as on Disc Two when she introduces the menu and impatiently reminds contemplative viewers to “choose wisely, but equally important, choose today.” Thus, Disney has added a contemporary flair to a once subdued sense of fantasy.

Disc One is primarily the actual Disney movie that we all know and love. Enhanced with numerous interactive additions, the real achievements of this version are those that are made possible by the advent of computer-based technology and links to the World Wide Web. Games (such as “Dopey’s Wild Mine Ride”), unreleased scenes, and interactive adventures (like the Disney songbook that allow even the busiest viewer to “whistle while you work” to the Heigh-ho sing-a-long), are all incorporated onto this first disc.

As an additional supplement to the original animated feature, Disc Two, The Legacy of Snow White, begins with the black-and white photographic feel of the obsolete era in which the original animation was released. Introduced by Walt Disney, the DVD quickly transfers to the magic mirror, which can link one to a storyboard of the supplement. This is where the real facelift comes to a creation approximately at its 70-year mark. Although the animation (featuring the original artwork and dynamic techniques crucial to the fabrication of this masterpiece) has been digitally perfected, the authenticity of its look and the technically precise recreation are indicative of the original artistry. Entertainment Weekly says that “the makeover Disney has given these hand-drawn images sets a thoroughly modern digital-restoration benchmark.”

By choosing from a variety of entrances, including Snow White’s Wishing Well, the Queen’s Castle, and the Dwarfs’ Mine, the viewer is able to navigate from one area of the supplement to another. Spanning from its conception in 1937 to its modern preservation, the presentation includes everything from the original radio broadcasts discussing the premiere of the fairy-tale fantasy, to the process of restoration that transpired in creating this milestone of audio and visual mastery. In addition to vintage audio and authentic trailers from the opening of this creation are storyboard scenes that serve as a means of comparison to the final animation that is so familiar to Disney productions.

The collaboration of various figures in the entertainment industry is evident when entering the Dwarfs’ Mine and embarking upon a trip exploring Disney through the decades. Along with employees such as Disney Vice Chairman of the Board Roy Edward Disney, D.B. Sweeny and Angela Landsbury make guest appearances as they guide viewers through the Disney experience. And epitomizing the collaborative Hollywood effort is the performance of the film’s renowned theme song, “Some Day My Prince Will Come,” by Barbara Streisand.

Abandoned concepts are prominently featured throughout the entire DVD experience, including different versions of songs — such as the fantasy version of “Some Day My Prince Will Come” — and even altogether deleted songs, such as “Music in Your Soup,” led by the chief dwarf Doc. New to the world of Disney, these animations, some of which are still in the precursory stage of hand-drawn images, are refreshing for Disney fans.

While many believe that this DVD experience is aimed toward children, the unbelievable technology, advanced use of three-dimensional planes and depth perception, magnificent artistry, and interesting historical content can be equally appreciated by older generations — generations to which numerous re-releases have been novel. The first of a series of Walt Disney Home Entertainment Platinum Editions, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs should become part of every collector’s DVD compilation; for it may just be the “fairest of them all.”

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