The nostalgia of popping in a new Blu-ray for something you’ve seen numerous times can sometimes make you forgive even the slightest transfer blunders. In the case of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, there’s been massive debate about DNR, color correction, and framing issues. But does any of that really have an affect on the fact that the film still holds up as a true Disney classic? Of course not. Wandering back to the Hundred Acre Wood is always a pleasant escape. The five theatrical Pooh releases show there’s always a reason to revisit A. A. Milne’s anthropomorphic bear and his friends.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh was one of the last films Walt Disney was involved in before his death in 1966. Since the full length feature wasn’t released until 1977, it wasn’t the release itself he had a hand in, as much as the vignettes that made up the story. Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree from 1966, Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day from 1968, and Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too from 1974, have been strung together anthology style, and effortlessly so. Keeping audiences of all ages entertained, it actually gets more amusing the older you get, because let’s face it, Pooh Bear is a horrific speller. But it’s all part of the fun as we follow along with Rabbit, Eeyore, Owl, Piglet, Kanga, Roo, Christopher Robin, and Tigger too, on what could be called The Many MISadventures of Winnie the Pooh.
The heated debate will continue to rage on about the BD-50GB MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer framed in a peculiar 1.66:1 aspect ratio. According to IMDB, the film was originally in 1.33:1 meaning that the image has been cropped to fill more of your TV screen, but it also means that part of the image is missing. There are many forums dedicated to this mishap and if Disney wanted to fill more of our screens, why didn’t they just go all the way to 1.78? Disney has also taken the time to scrub the image completely clean of any visible grain, taking with it a smidgen of fine detail.
I’ve read about the abominable Sword in the Stone release that also washed out the color, but thankfully for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, they’ve gone the opposite route and pumped up the brightness and colors. Bleeding is never an issue, and there is no banding or aliasing present, which just leaves the DNR process for everyone to complain about. The print is also pristine with no nicks, scratches, white specks, or hairs. The all-new 5.1 DTS-HD surround track is even better. Voices are delivered crystal clear, even if nothing else really makes it feel as if a complete 5.1 remix was necessary, aside from most Blu-ray users having at least that kind of home theater equipment. Additionally, there is 2.0 English Dolby Digital, 5.1 French Dolby Digital, and 5.1 Spanish Dolby Digital tracks.
To see what the transfer could have looked like, check out the included transfer for the Pooh short, A Day for Eeyore. It looks better than you’d think, but should look far better considering they took the time to include it. Seeing how they also included some Mini Adventures of Winnie the Pooh — including If I Wasn’t So Small, Piglet’s Drawings, The Expedition, Geniuses, and The Honey Song — just because they were all released most recently (The Honey Song coming from the new full length Winnie the Pooh from 2011). Even those don’t look as good as they should, but all represent how much better the Eeyore short could be.
The rest of the features are rather middling. To kick things off, there’s a 2-minute “Pooh Play-Along” designed to get kids off their butts and do some exercising with the Pooh, Tigger, Rabbit, and Christopher Robbin. “The Story Behind the Masterpiece” runs 25-minutes, and is ported over from the original DVD release, and is self-explanatory. And finally, a music video from Carly Simon is included as she performs the Winnie the Pooh theme song — which has probably been running through your head this whole time. If you pick up the right copy, there’s a Winnie the Pooh kite inside, along with a DVD copy of the film and access to a digital copy.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, regardless of what one thinks about the video quality — let’s face it, it could have looked way worse, and my wife thinks it looks better than she’s ever seen, considering she remembers watching it countless times on a VHS tape — is a very welcomed addition to a growing Disney classic Blu-ray library. I asked a friend if their daughter would like the kite that was included and was told, “She knows who he is, but doesn’t really watch it. She would love anything that gets her outside though,” and I couldn’t help but find it disheartening to think that a new generation are starting to leave these things behind. Children’s programming today is a disaster, and the more classics like The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh see a Blu-ray release, the better.