Just in time for the 60th anniversary, Disney releases its classic film Peter Pan in a Diamond Edition blu-ray this week. Most are probably familiar with the classic tale of three children who fly away to Neverland with Peter Pan, the boy who never grows up. There, they hang out with lost boys, battle pirates, dance with Indians, and swim with mermaids, before returning home.
Like most of Disney’s early films, Peter Pan holds up extremely well. The story is fondly remembered for a reason, and with a short seventy-seven minute running time, there is no worry about dragging. It clips along at a brisk, entertaining pace, providing giggles for children and warm nostalgia for those of us who, unlike Peter, did grow up.
I cannot say enough good things about the new presentation. The case itself is modern and sharp, and the picture quality of the film is unbelievable. It is difficult to accept that this animation was drawn so very long ago, as the conversion is done to present flawless picture. The colors are vivid, and the lines aren’t the slightest bit blurry.
At first, it takes a little getting used to, because the animation style is from a totally different era. There are large, broad patches of color on the screen, rather than detailed shadows and images, and so the graininess of previous releases sort of filled out those big spaces, making the first impression feel a little off. Yet, everything is so sharp, it could not have looked this good when it first came out, making it appear new, despite the drastic difference in style from current digital imaging. Once you understand what it is you’re seeing, though, it’s easy to appreciate just how much love and work went into giving Peter Pan the best picture possible.
I have similar complements for the audio. Again, there is a vastly different presentation than recent films, with the music and tone sometimes making it slightly harder to understand the words. Yet, no such fault can be blamed on the 7.1 surround sound track, as it is completely free of pops and hisses, providing clarity astounding for such an aged movie. The dialogue, effects, and music are all basically perfect, well balanced, and don’t show their age in the slightest.
Some may be disappointed that Peter Pan is presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio, meaning that you will have black bars on the sides of the screen around a nearly square image on widescreen televisions. But this is the way it was originally released, so just enjoy how good the picture and sound are, and those bars will quickly become unnoticeable.
While the Diamond Edition includes all of the previous extras, there are also some new ones, the ones on the disc mostly geared towards grown ups revisiting their past, rather than children just discovering the tale, who are better served by the multi-platform components. Two deleted scenes are shown with narration and sketches, in full 16:9 HD, about five minutes in length. They are early concepts, and don’t fit in the finished story, so it’s clear why they were cut. However, it’s thrilling to get this glimpse into history and the creative process of this film’s development.
There are also two deleted songs, also story boarded, mixed with a few bits of animation, also in 16:9 HD with restored audio. One, “Never Smile at a Crocodile,” is familiar to many, given it’s recorded release and appearance on Disney sing along videos, and the fact that it sets lyrics to a melody that is included in the film. The other, “The Boatswain Song,” isn’t very good, but hey, it’s not in the movie, so it’s valuable for the same reason the deleted scenes are.
There is a 40+ minute documentary about the Nine Old Men. Those familiar with the early story of Walt Disney’s company will already know who these famous animators are, and while the featurette doesn’t deal much with Peter Pan specifically, it will be of interest to Disney buffs, and is appropriate here because Peter Pan is the last film they all worked on together.
The only thing I really didn’t care for was the Pirate Training that comes up after you pause the disc for ten seconds. It is boring and not very engaging, so I’m not not sure the kids will like it, and it’s far too basic for adults to appreciate. I guess it’s better than just a frozen screen, but I wouldn’t call it an enhancement.
There are also a storybook app, coloring pages and memory games for the computer, a digital copy, a DVD version, and more in the combo pack, making for an interactive experience across various devices, and allowing for interaction by a generation who expects such.
This release is by far the best this movie has ever looked, and is definitely worth checking out just for the film itself. But the features are great, too, so it’s a total package. Disney’s Peter Pan Diamond Edition will be released Tuesday, February 5th at retailers everywhere.