A seven-years-plus quest comes to an end.

The first DVD I ever bought, on Boxing Day 2000, was The Fantasia Anthology, a three-disc boxed set containing the original Fantasia (1940), its sequel Fantasia 2000 (1999), and a third disc of bonus features.

In the months that followed, I picked up a few other Disney films — films as diverse as The Black Cauldron (1985), a deeply flawed fantasy flick that I liked a lot when I was a teenager, and Pinocchio (1940; my comments), which I acquired partly as “research” in the months leading up to the release of Steven Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001), which had a strong Pinocchio subtext.

But it wasn’t until a friend of mine and her young daughter dragged me into the Disney Store at Metrotown that I thought about systematically acquiring all of the films produced by the Walt Disney Feature Animation division. The store was having a sale, and there, on the shelf, I saw copies of early episodic films like Saludos Amigos (1942) and Fun and Fancy Free (1947); and since I recognized some of the cartoons contained therein from the TV shows I had taped when I was a kid, I picked ’em up. And there, on the backs of the DVDs, were notes proclaiming that each film was the 6th or 9th or whatever feature-length effort in Disney’s filmography … and, well, you can’t dangle numbers like that in front of me without making me wonder if I can fill the gaps between them.

As it turns out, there have been 46 feature films so far in the “official” Disney canon, and I’d guess at least half of them had not even been released on DVD when I first thought of collecting the lot. So I figured I’d pick up whatever was available at the time, and then fill the gaps gradually as each remaining film came out.

And today, with the release of the “platinum edition” of One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961), my collection is finally complete.

The film has actually been released on DVD once before, as one of several bare-bones “limited issue” discs that Disney put out in 1999. But those films were out of print by the time I got into DVDs, and in any case, I like bonus features and I knew Disney would re-issue the film one day. (In the meantime, I rented the earlier disc and watched it with my family, which produced at least one amusing result.)

Alas, the framing issues I have raised with regard to some of Disney’s other films seem to be a problem here, too. Maybe only a slight problem, but still, a problem nonetheless. Below this paragraph are four images from the film, picked more or less at random, with the 1999 DVD on the left and the 2008 DVD on the right — and you can see how the new DVD generally “pinches” the picture and loses some of the image on some or all four of its sides:

Incidentally, a number of the “canonical” Disney films have been released on DVD at least twice since I began collecting them, and I have resisted getting most of the recent re-issues; usually there’s only one or two extra bonus features, and in some cases the re-framing of the picture has been even more drastic than what I posted above. (Robin Hood and The Aristocats, for example, were originally released in their original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, but the most recent DVDs cut off the top and bottom of the image for a 1.75:1 aspect ratio.)

But I may have to let myself double-dip when Sleeping Beauty (1959) is re-issued later this year. Not only is it being given the full “platinum edition” treatment this time; it is also the first hand-animated Disney film to get the Blu-Ray treatment. And, well, it is a classic and all.

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About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his award-winning film column for that paper, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He has also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005) and The Bible in Motion: A Handbook of the Bible and Its Reception in Film (De Gruyter, 2016).

  • http://striderdemme.wordpress.com Joseph

    Congratulations! That’s some feat.

  • Bill M

    I started out on this same path, but gave up with only about half the titles accumulated. Part of my excitement was sapped after getting several of the lack-luster “Limited Edition” titles, and then running into the poor framing on some of the shorts. But… Dalmations is a favorite, as is Robin Hood. So maybe a double-dip is in order at least on those titles. :)

    BTW – I thought the initial release of Sleeping Beauty was impressive as it was – what will they be adding to the “Platinum” version?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07395937367596387523 Peter T Chattaway

    That’s a good question, especially given that some of the more recent “platinum editions” haven’t been all that impressive in the bonus-features department.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04087894658713504760 erin

    Wow, I was looking at the list and was surprised at how many of these I either hadn’t heard of or haven’t seen. You have quite the impressive collection now.

    I’ll look forward to Sleeping Beauty; that’s one of my favorites.